Visitors who haven’t been to the Redwood City or San Mateo DMV office recently may be surprised by the quality and efficiency of the service.
According to California DMV spokesperson Jan Mendoza, the agency has been making a proactive effort over the last several years to improve its offerings.
Most importantly, she says, the DMV is making more services available online that previously required a visit to an office.
“There is a gamut of things that people can do online so they don’t have to set foot in a field office,” said Mendoza.
When office visits are required, Mendoza emphasized that it is now possible to make an appointment online using a computer or using one of the DMV’s smartphone applications.
Mendoza stressed that many people who complain about long waits have not made an advance appointment. She compares making an appointment at the DMV with tending to other affairs, such as seeing a doctor.
“If you’re going to see the doctor without an appointment, you’re going to wait.”
On a recent visit by a Patch staffer the DMV's Redwood City office, customers praised the appointment system for allowing for shorter wait-times, however many people bemoaned the lack of appointment availability.
One couple said they attempted to make an appointment, but the soonest available time was over three weeks later, which would not have been in time to make the necessary extensions in vehicle registration.
As a result, they said they were number 217, with number 43 having just been called.
A recent search for appointments at the Redwood City and San Mateo DMV branches yielded mid-September as the earliest shot at any appointment, even with no constraints on time of day.
Another part of the DMV’s quest for improvement is a greater emphasis on customer service.
Trainings are conducted every Wednesday morning at branches throughout the state before opening time to give employees the opportunity to learn more about customer service. In addition, awards are given to employees and supervisors who go above and beyond.
Patrons noted the friendliness of employees; however, many expressed concern about employees’ attention to detail.
“The service was good but the employees have no idea what they’re talking about,” said Dennis Perry, who was quoted three different prices for reissuing his license by three different employees before he was able to iron out the details with a supervisor.
Overall, patrons who had visited other DMVs cite the Peninsula offices as being efficient in comparison.
David Porterfield, who accompanied his daughter on her driving test, noted that the Redwood City DMV is superior to the one in Pittsburgh in the East Bay.
“For as many people as you have in the area, it seems efficient.”
Efficiency, says Mendoza, is the name of the game.
“Our employees behind the counter see thousands of customers per day, deal with problematic issues and are very helpful,” she says.
Nonetheless, like a doctor’s visit, Mendoza recognizes that DMV visits will likely never be a pleasurable activity.
“It’s not a pleasure trip,” she said.
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