Hey, there! Log in / Register

Citizen complaint of the day: Why is the Registry roasting its customers in Roslindale?

Hot RMV customers in Roslindale

A concerned citizen files a 311 complaint about the inhumane conditions on the verge of a deadly heat wave at the Roslindale branch of the RMV:

During a heat emergency the RMV is making people stand outside in the sun. Please help!

Boston 311 promptly closed the case, because, as it noted:

RMV is overseen by the Governor's Office. They can be reached at 617-725-4005.

Ed. note: The federal government, at least, treats its line of waiting people outside in Roslindale better, because they at least have a shady overhang under which to stand while waiting to get into the Social Security office down the street. And there's a Subway right there, too.

Neighborhoods: 
Ad:

Comments

I swear, they keep people waiting outside because then they don't grab a number. When you grab a number, they can track how long the line is. The wait of the numberless outside is not reflected in the system.

I'd say that the head of the RMV should resign about this, but she's resigned over more serious things already.

up
Voting closed 37

Never attribute to conspiracy what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

up
Voting closed 61

A conspiracy to make them more competent than they are.

In full disclosure, even though I did my last 2 in person transaction at AAA, I had an issue that sent me to that branch that they settled in 10 minutes, and it looked like a tough one. Still, since the Real ID thing started, I’m trying to avoid them.

up
Voting closed 14

This is the lived reality at nearly every registry that I've had the misfortune to visit. They create a line to get in the line. Every stinking time. Every stinking location. You don't just walk in and get a number - you get in line to get a number, and the line you get in to get a number isn't officially tracked.

If it was one location and one time, you might be right. But it is multiple locations at multiple times. They even tell you to come early for the road tests so you can get through the line. Unfuckingvbelieveable.

up
Voting closed 30

I have also seen registry staff game the ticket system at the other end. They call a whole bunch of numbers at once, and then line up those people whose numbers were called in front of a window, where they wait in line to be served. But the system of course records the customer's wait time as the time between when they were issued a number and the time their number was called, and doesn't count the 10-15 minutes in the secondary line.

Not only is this a cynical manipulation of the performance-tracking system, for which the managers ought to be canned, it also consumes staff (to manage this secondary line) who could otherwise be serving customers. Which means that the managers are not only lying about their performance numbers, but the act of such lying actually makes performance worse than it would otherwise be.

up
Voting closed 28

Do we really think that RMV workers are in some back room with AC playing fortnite while customers are outside taking numbers and waiting in lines? I would think it would be more efficient for everyone involved if the staff had some sort of system that moved everyone along as fast as possible.

And do we really think they have "performance numbers"?

Last time I went was at the Watertown registry a while back and they had a nice comfortable waiting room where I waited 20-30 minutes and boom I'm out.

I'm sure it can be a frustrated process for those doing more complicated transactions, just wondering if all the blame needs to be put on staff, or if the processes themselves are the problem (tranfering titles, etc)

up
Voting closed 17

The 1980s called - they want their conception of perks of civil service back. Nobody thinks they have people sitting on their ass in a back room.

This situation is quite the opposite: they don't have enough people, they are squeezing the people they have in ways that are incompatible with the tasks they need to perform, and they don't want anyone FOIAing data to show that they have cut too deep and service has suffered.

This is how they use their performance metrics and why the state pulls this bullshit:

They are used to justify cuts in hours.

They have been used for years to justify closing registry branches.

They were used to "prove" that the express registries were not necessary.

They are used to justify not replacing people who retire.

These outside lines are a management decision to game the metrics. Full stop. The line to get to the line being completely offline is a middle management ass covering decision for excessive cutbacks in capacity to process increasing workloads that originated at the top levels of management.

This is they way they post rosy performance numbers and short waits when there are long waits and short staff. Those performance numbers also get trotted out every time there is a question as to whether the registry could be run more efficiently. They are not individual worker performance numbers, but the state has been and continues to collect data on how long the waits are, etc. While this is a good idea in general, those numbers are used to justify management decisions that maximize revenue and minimize costs, not to improve service.

Performance tracking is EXACTLY why there is a line that isn't being tracked to get to the line that is tracked. If it isn't recorded, if fifteen memos haven't been written about it and seventy five managers haven't justified their existence with it, it doesn't officially exist, and nobody is responsible for it.

Extra Credit: look up Taylorism and Neoliberal Management - they are both involved here with the process of increasing profits by screwing workers on productivity.

up
Voting closed 26

Serious question.

Why would an RMV have performance numbers? I get it for performance based jobs or offices, but an RMV? At a location that can only hold x amount of employees anyway? Do you mean like x amount of titles renewed per day or per worker?

And yea, I would assume the performance based numbers are used the same way a Starbucks might base them on. Ever notice (And I ask you swirrly because you have referenced that you go to Starbucks) that when Starbucks workers are on break, they stay on break. Doesn't matter if the line is obscene and people leave because of the line, the workers on break sit down and enjoy their break (I have no problem with this).

And if you don't think civil servants abuse work hours by taking longer breaks and are protected by ineffective managers, then you are stuck in some other decade, because that still happens.

And again, how do you know that line isn't being tracked? (the line to get into the other line) At some level of the RMV management they know this, which means someone would know the line would be tracked, or not tracked. So at the middle management level, they think the can get away with these "performance" standards by not counting the line, but in the end that would hurt them, because they would be the ones who want to show they are understaffed anyway correct? So the middle managers would want to inflate the customer base (since this isn't a free market, and the RMV has a monopoly on fees associated with vehicles).

up
Voting closed 9

Read their press releases. They cite numbers there.

Also? The Governor uses them every time someone brings up the problems that became super evident with the Real ID fiasco.

Try to keep up here.

I also know people in DOT.

These lines appeared about six years ago when they were looking to reduce the number of locations to justify "we don't need these places because we are doing so well!".

Sealions don't have to go to the registry, though.

up
Voting closed 9

Has been going on longer than 6 years. And of course they have numbers. I'm seriously asking why a middle manager (someone who wants their registry to stay open or workers to stay employed) would ignore demand at a specific registry?

Real ID has it's own problems, I'm not taking about bureaucratic BS and spin, unless that is the issue here. I'm thinking the real issue is the size of the Roslindale RMV. Have you ever been there?

I mean Bob Lesponge seems to be referencing wait times, is that what your talking about?

up
Voting closed 6

Every organization with aspirations to be well-run (including the RMV, which does, popular humor aside, actually aspire to be well run) tracks all sorts of performance metrics. "How long do our customers wait in line" is a really obvious one, and tracking that metric, which is a huge factor in public satisfaction with the agency, is the rationale behind the computerized system that assigns you a ticket and then calls you to a window.

Of course people in management are looking at that number -- well-intentioned and sincere folks are looking to improve it; cynical folks are using it to increase workload or close branches.

Making people wait an extra 10 minutes at the beginning, before the computer even knows they're there in the building, or an extra 10 minutes at the window, after the computer thinks they've already been served, is an outright fraudulent attempt to manipulate the statistics. There's absolutely no other explanation for this behavior.

up
Voting closed 15

But people have misconceptions about public quotas and performance goals first off, but that’s a separate issue. And besides the people Swirrly knows at the DOT, are you positive the RMV has metrics for wait times? I mean how accurate could the goals be? I’m assuming most RMV transitions depend on the competency of the customer over the worker in most cases anyway, how could you even evaluate performance at a place like the RMV? I would think metrics like staff evaluation or even customer reviews would be more accurate than wait times.

And again, maybe I’m missing something, your using the metric “waiting times” swirly says they have “performance numbers”. I don’t think those are the same.

up
Voting closed 11

And again, maybe I’m missing something, your using the metric “waiting times” swirly says they have “performance numbers”. I don’t think those are the same.

Wait time is one performance number. (and a very important one for most customer oriented businesses -- whether McDonald's, the RMV, or a medical clinic) There are obviously other ones -- revenue per employee per hour; transactions per hour; customer satisfaction ratings; percent of transactions in error or requiring a correction; percent of issues resolved with a single visit vs requiring a revisit, etc.

are you positive the RMV has metrics for wait times?

Given that they collate the statistics and publish them, yes, I am absolutely positive.

That's their entire reason for replacing the old style "take-a-number" machine familiar from the deli counter with the new computer system: it tracks the time between your being issued a ticket and your being called to a clerk's window.

I’m assuming most RMV transitions depend on the competency of the customer over the worker in most cases anyway, how could you even evaluate performance at a place like the RMV?

The individual transaction of course depends upon the customer, but on average, the average transaction takes the average amount of time. So you can evaluate performance by measuring how long the average customer has to wait to be seen by a clerk. (and of course you can do more sophisticated statistics looking at median, distribution, etc. Given the same average mix of customers, a RMV office that understaffs its counter is going to have worse numbers than one that adequately staffs its counter. A RMV office that provides quality training to its staff is going to have better numbers than one that does not. Better supervision, ditto.

up
Voting closed 15

There are obviously other ones -- revenue per employee per hour; transactions per hour; customer satisfaction ratings; percent of transactions in error or requiring a correction; percent of issues resolved with a single visit vs requiring a revisit, etc.

I would hope managers at private businesses would take into account these metrics, but are you 100% sure the RMV manager cares about them or tracks them?

Are you sure the RMV manager cares about wait times? Because from the government operations I've seen that deal with public transactions (permits and parking tickets from City Hall, Federal Offices, etc) unofficial worker evaluations usually are the prime indicators. In the old City Hall parking office where civilians used to hand enter tickets into a computer, if an employee was lazy and performed below the others, the manager would want to show that so he could get better workers. But in this case at the RMV, we seem to assume that the managers are fudging the numbers in order to make themselves look good or something? Why would the two be different? You can't fire these people you know that right?

And before this whole thing I thought the number system (at least at Roslindale) was in place so 150 people aren't waiting in a room with a 30 person capacity (so they can actually see the screen).

So again, are we assuming that the RMV (wait times aside) evaluates employees on revenue per transaction, or whatever other measure a normal business would use? That is really my only question.

up
Voting closed 12

So again, are we assuming that the RMV (wait times aside) evaluates employees on revenue per transaction, or whatever other measure a normal business would use? That is really my only question.

I would not expect that the RMV evaluates employees on anything like revenue per transaction. I would expect that they evaluate employees on things like accuracy and completeness and frequency of their work needing to be re-done.

I would not expect that the RMV evaluates individual employees on wait time either -- I would expect that the RMV measures *itself* on wait time, though, as in the sense that what gets measured gets managed, and that achieving (and publishing) good wait time numbers or showing improvement is good business, good service, and good PR.

up
Voting closed 13

It is telling decision makers how well or poorly the customer service experience goes. If I know, or in reality am lead to believe, that the wait time at an RMV branch is better or worse than other branches, I’d be more inclined to go there. If a branch has data that says the wait time is short, it looks like they are doing their jobs well. The metric probably isn’t used for individual evaluations, except maybe the person in charge.

End of the day, as a user, I’d prefer to get a number and be told to sit under a tree in Adams Park across the street for a half hour than to have to wait on the ramp for a half hour to be told how long the wait is.

up
Voting closed 10

Never attribute to conspiracy what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

A combination of arrogance, incompetence, and stupidity is an even more likely explanation, however.

up
Voting closed 12

See "the 1980s called", above. Seems you are joining Pete on that call.

up
Voting closed 12

Doesn’t everyone have to take a number in order to be served?

up
Voting closed 11

These poor saps are in line to get a number.

Once they have a number, they get to wait in the air conditioning.

up
Voting closed 22

They've put in air conditioning at the Roslindale RMV??? I mean, in the area where the customers have to wait, not behind the plexiglass where the workers are? Awesome! The last time I renewed my license there, I stood for five hours inside the registry office--it was July and very hot, there were some fans but no A.C., and precious few chairs. Didn't dare leave to get a bite to eat/drink, in case they'd call my number (they were calling numbers by what sort of issue you were there for, not chronologically). I nearly fainted and had to sit on the floor for a long time--and my license picture came out much worse than usual! I feel really sorry for the people who have to stand out in the weather--they need a bigger office space and more clerks, obviously.

up
Voting closed 7

Or go online and beat the heat

up
Voting closed 18

for services including getting a new license.

PS: Haters- AAA hasn't lobbied for motorists in well over a decade and now even offers services for bicyclists and donates money to bicycle causes.

up
Voting closed 5

There are many, many things you have to go to the registry itself to do that cannot be handled online, such as many license renewals and all renewals that want to be Real ID compliant.

up
Voting closed 36

FWIW, I know this doesn't help everybody, but I got my license renewed at AAA with Real ID. They can perform a bunch of other registry services.

up
Voting closed 18

You must be a AAA member in order to utilize their Registry services. If you are not a member, they will not provide service and you will be asked to go to a regular RMV office.

Although, if not a AAA member, they will ask you if you would like to join AAA right then and there and if you obtain a membership at that time, then they will provide the service.

up
Voting closed 20

You can't renew online if your picture is on its second run.

You can't get plates online.

You can't do a Real ID on line.

You can't get your first license on line.

You can't transfer a registration online.

Etc.

up
Voting closed 30

I just renewed my license on-line and the picture is on the third or fourth run.

up
Voting closed 8

Don't know how you managed that, you seem especially lucky. Usually, you can renew online the first time it comes due after you've gotten a new picture, but the time after that, you can't.

up
Voting closed 6

Because they don't give an F about you. Many probably banged in and are down the Cape or up north.

up
Voting closed 4

hotline?

Nine times out of 10, the most egregious public-works 'fails' I've come across have been under DCR or MassDOT jurisdiction, but whenever I've emailed them, their responses (jf any) have been apathetic.

Would it be too much to ask for some form of state-level complaint system that would hold these departments nominally accountable? Doesn't our governor claim to be data-driven?

up
Voting closed 8

Please explain what the federal government has to do with a long line at the Roslindale RMV

up
Voting closed 14

The state makes people wait in the broiling sun. Two blocks away, though, the federal government has provided shade for people waiting to get into the Social Security office (even if inadvertently because of the way the building it's in was built).

And, that's it. I was just comparing two government offices on Washington Street.

up
Voting closed 28

Has to be one of the smallest in the country. Maybe they should just let Roslindale, Mattapan, and WR/JP/Rox residents renew there.

up
Voting closed 11

Nope. That's not how state services work. If someone from just over the line in Mission Hill or Dorchester (or, horrors, Dedham!) finds it convenient to go there, they have the right to. If the lines are too long, they can choose to go somewhere else, but so can someone from the neighborhoods you list.

up
Voting closed 10

I don't know if it is still an issue, but people who needed Real ID licenses were forming huge lines last spring.

Real ID is a federal government thing.

up
Voting closed 18

Isn't this a tiny office? I have only been there once a couple years ago, but I recall that the interior space was tiny and packed with people waiting - I think the line forms outside because there is simply so little space for additional people inside. This is obviously an error in planning and design, but 'making people stand outside' makes it sound like they have capacity inside that they are refusing to let people use. I think the issue is just that this office is trying to serve far more people than intended. It's a problem, but it's not something they can easily solve short of relocating the office elsewhere.

up
Voting closed 13

I can't wait for the government to take over our health care!

up
Voting closed 20

Republicans in red states die at pathetically young ages. People in countries with government run health care live way longer. I bet you won't last long.

up
Voting closed 24

I can't wait for the government to take over our health care!

Consistently, people on medicare (which is, of course, a Federal government health care progarm) report a very high level of satisfaction with the program. Often quite a bit higher than reported by people on private health insurance.

up
Voting closed 22

Lazy, entitled drivers aren't used to things like standing or fresh air. They pay next to nothing yet expect world class service.

up
Voting closed 14

The Registry issues non-driving government ID as well...

up
Voting closed 22

Go stand in the sun for a half hour this afternoon, then report back to us, okay.

Also, who’s to say they aren’t non-drivers working on their state IDs.

up
Voting closed 21

Doesn't want to.

He also doesn't want to carry his passport around all the time.

He went to the registry to renew his ID because his old one had a picture that was taken when he was 13.

up
Voting closed 9

The Rmv is small and gets crowded very fast. After they reached their limit, It’s usually one in when one comes out. I made the mistake of going in the winter. I honestly don’t care how convenient Roslindale Rmv is I will forever go to haymarket. I was in and out. It’s huge, everyone gets a seat and did I mention there’s like 20 tellers?

up
Voting closed 9

The Rmv is small and gets crowded very fast. After they reached their limit, It’s usually one in when one comes out.

And this failure is absolutely invisible to the folks trying to look at data to see which offices might need to be physically expanded or have more staff added, because none of the tracking systems in place know that there are people standing in line waiting to be logged into the computer tracking system.

up
Voting closed 11

Parasol.

up
Voting closed 10