DMV Says Wait Times Down, Customers Insist Other Hassles Remain

With the Department of Motor Vehicles reporting wait times in branch offices on the way down, the agency has tried to put its problems in the rear view mirror.

But the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have continued to hear from DMV customers who have issues that have taken months, and in one case, more than a year, to resolve.

The DMV says it has gotten most of the software bugs out following a rough rollout of its $26 million modernization project, but problems for customers seem to keep cropping up.

Steve Palmer, of East Hartford says he had to go back and forth with the DMV for over a year, to get a partial, $40 refund on a two year registration he used for just three months.

Palmer first contacted the Troubleshooters last September. NBC Connecticut reached out to the DMV about Palmer’s problem then, and again in December before he got his check.

“Gotta stay with it and thanks to your help and finally they reacted and sent the check out,” Palmer said.

In Palmer's case, as well as the case of Allan West, of Hartford, it appears DMV software gave false positives that their car insurance policies had lapsed.

West was fined $200 and it took him five months to get a refund, after we contacted the DMV.

“This is not acceptable. People work hard. People don’t have $200 just to give away to the state on something that the state brought up in the first place in error,” West said.

The Troubleshooters have fielded complaints from DMV customers across the state. They often involve issues connected to vehicle registrations that they didn’t cause, and take weeks or months to clear up. Besides Palmer and West, both from Greater Hartford, other customers who contacted us come from Southington, Milford and Salem.

After being pulled over by a state trooper in December, Brenda Brown, of Salem, was told she was driving with a canceled registration. After sending letters and missing half a day of work to go to a DMV branch, in January, Brown was able to prove her registration had not been canceled.

“They honestly need to look at the overall process. If they're going to continue to have problems with their system, then these types of scenarios should be worked out where they know they're in error and come up with a fix,” Brown said.

The DMV addressed the latest round of complaints we received in a statement:

“DMV strives to improve customer service every day through continuous examination of comments and complaints from customers, critiques from our employees and data-driven analysis of the workings of our customer service. DMV serves nearly 3 million license customers and 3 million registration customers. As with any large business, issues can occasionally develop for our customers and we work with them to resolve the matter. To improve this response to customers, the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner through much study of our internal requirements for issuing registrations have made significant cuts in wait times for customers who now obtain faster service when making a trip to DMV for a registration-related matter. Their next stop is DMV’s back office operations that have sometimes brought long wait times for customers seeking refunds or other kinds of assistance. DMV has started a similar kind of study, as done with customer wait times in the branch office, and will be looking at solutions that streamline those back office operations, including any delays in getting customers their refunds or other assistance provided by those operations.”

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