3-plus-hour waits at MVD leave customers frustrated

What is the best time to visit the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division office in Prescott?

People at the MVD on Wednesday would have said never. Customers spent long hours Wednesday waiting to register their vehicles, transfer titles or get a new driver’s license.

The long wait prompted one frustrated customer to call The Daily Courier.

When the Courier arrived at the MVD office at 4 p.m., five of the 19 service windows were open. The clerk at the front desk told customers as they arrived to expect a three-hour wait.

Roy Lyon of Prescott Valley already had waited an hour and a half to transfer the title and registration on his vehicle. He said he expected to wait at least another hour.

Lyon said MVD employees gave no explanation for why the wait was so long. “If the MVD can’t staff this office, there should be another outlet. The wait should never be more than an hour,” he said.

The MVD’s media and constituent relations spokesperson, Cydney DeModica, said explosive growth in the Prescott area also means an increase in the number of customers at the MVD.

Transferring out-of-state vehicle titles takes the most time, DeModica said.

She said 300 to 350 people a day came to the MVD office in Prescott in June 2004. This year, the number increased to more than 400 people a day.

“From June 22 to July 1, there were 2,000 customers. On Tuesday, July 5, there were 423 people in the office,” DeModica said. “Growth does have an impact on any MVD office.”

DeModica said more than 60 people were in the MVD lobby at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday and 45 of them were there for a title transfer and could not complete their transactions online.

The best time to visit an MVD office is the middle of the week, after the first week and middle of the month, but before the end of the month.

“If you go at the end of the month, there will be a longer wait time. People often wait until the end of the month to renew their registration. The 15th of the month is also bad,” DeModica said.

She also suggested that people arrive early in the morning or in the middle of the day, immediately after the lunch hour.

One woman who recently moved to Prescott from California said she arrived at 1:50

p.m. to change her driver’s license. She already had waited two hours and 20 minutes.

Rhonda Plume of Prescott said when she arrived at 3:45 to register her vehicle, they told her to expect a three-hour wait.

“I didn’t expect it … it usually goes fast,” Plume said.

Allan Christenson of Chino Valley was at the MVD to transfer a title for an out-of-state vehicle. “I expected to wait,” he said, but “unfortunately, it is a long wait.”

DeModica said attrition and turnover has left the Prescott office short-handed. She added that they have hired five new employees.

“They will be on board the end of the month. The new employees must be trained. We just can’t stick them in an office. After their initial training, they will work on simple transactions until they gain experience,” DeModica said.

Steve McAllister of Prescott Valley ended up waiting twice Wednesday. He went to the MVD in the morning and learned that he faced a three-hour wait. He had to leave, and when he returned at 3 p.m., he faced another three-hour wait.

McAllister, an organ transplant patient, had to leave again Wednesday afternoon to go home and take his 5 p.m. medication. McAllister’s wife, Lolly, stayed at the MVD to complete a title transfer.

Lolly McAllister said, “I must say that most of the people who work here are very polite. The last time I was here I listened to the lady at the counter talk to customers for an hour and a half. She was so nice and helpful and never once lost her temper. You can’t get mad at the employees. It is not their fault the office is under-staffed.”

DeModica said MVD built the new Prescott office with expansion in mind. She said it has 13 customer service representatives, including the five new employees.

“Additionally, we have approval to fill four more positions. By late fall customers will begin to see full staffing,” DeModica said.

She said by Thanksgiving customers should see 17 customer service representatives working in the Prescott office, adding that MVD is working toward staffing capacity instead of additional offices.

DeModica also suggested MVD customers take advantage of online services, either on a personal computer or at a customer service center in an MVD office.

MVD started providing online service in 1997, and DeModica said it has continued to add services.

“Be patient,” she said. “Things are going to be changing. We are adding new positions.”

She noted that in addition to the new positions, the MVD has sent a “Tiger Team” to Prescott to help with the staffing shortage.

The MVD created Tiger Teams a year ago. The teams include cross-trained em-

ployees who can go into any office that is in a crisis mode and provide extra staffing.

DeModica recommends

that people visit www. ServiceArizona.com to complete their MVD transactions. The site is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Contact the reporter at prhoden@prescottaz.com