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  1. #1

    Default Do we need more SoS offices?

    Yesterday I decided it was the day to renew my license and also get an enhanced version for air travel and border crossing.

    I foolishly thought if I went there when they opened I could get in a shorter line. Wrong! The place was packed out to the windows. I decided to try the text-in-line option and found out that "only" 81 people were ahead of me. It seemed as if they were all nearly bursting out of the place!

    My place in line got to #1 around 1pm, after which the process went smoothly.

    I seem to recall some campaign promises of being in and out in 15 minutes. I guess that means texting in line and then arriving 15 minutes before you eventually get to #1 in line.

    Back in the old days, there were many more SOS offices and I don't ever recall a 4-5 hour wait. I also thought about getting an appointment but the next available appointment is August 8th!

    Maybe some creativity is needed to better serve the citizens of Michigan. No one looks forward to a trip to the SOS, but even text-in-line still put most of my day in flux as I tried to determine how much time until I made it to #1.

  2. #2

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    I feel like more efficient systems for customer management would help relieve the overcrowding. For instance allowing people to set specific appointment times. You can still have a walk-in system as well, but encourage scheduled appointments, then hold workers accountable for staying on schedule.

    I have lived in other states and everything was done via appointment. Very few services were offered on a walk-in basis.

  3. #3

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    I hate to call it out, but the SOS system here in Michigan is absolutely horrific! I'm glad they have finally brought out some technology to help alleviate the wait (Kiosks, online options and texting), but when it comes right down to it the counter is just a mess.

    I remember being a bit dumbstruck by how inefficient our SOS is when I temporarily moved to Florida in the mid 2000's. I walked into their "Tax Collectors" office expecting a long wait to transfer my driver's license, plates etc. I walked out 20 minutes later with a new photo ID (In my hands), plates for my car and officially a Florida resident. In 20 freaking minutes! In Michigan I would not even had made it half way through the line.

    Last year I purchased a used vehicle in Virginia and the seller wanted to transfer the title at his local SOS. We were in and out of there in under a half hour and that was with a relatively complicated transfer as it was a commercial vehicle that had some unusual title issues.


    More offices and more employees would help, but better use of the ones they have would be better. I know they have the texting service, but the two times I used it was totally unreliable.

    The one thing I would love to see them do is add LED screens to the parking lots showing updated customer numbers. Sitting around the SOS with screaming kids and grumpy adults is not my cup of tea. I'd much rather have the option of waiting in my vehicle without the constant worry that I'm missing my number being called.

  4. #4

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    I have found dramatic differences depending on which specific branch you visit. Some are very efficient and some are downright awful. Not all have the same technology available either.

  5. #5

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    I remember how horrible the SOS was in the 80s under Richard Austin. Very long lines and rude workers behind the counter

  6. #6

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    It is the ďyou get what you pay forĒ concept that so many people in Michigan struggle to grasp.

    Lower taxes collected translates into less money to employ SOS workers, which results in longer wait times. It really isnít that hard a concept to figure out. Most people want lower taxes though, and in a democratic society the majority usually wins, hence what we have.

    People here (in general) just arenít smart enough to realize what the consequences of lower taxes are, and instead just see the benefits of more money in their bank account. I am not making the argument for or against higher or lower taxes, but merely pointing out that with anything there are pros and cons. And most people in Michigan arenít able to grasps what the cons of lower taxes are.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atticus View Post
    It is the ďyou get what you pay forĒ concept that so many people in Michigan struggle to grasp.

    Lower taxes collected translates into less money to employ SOS workers, which results in longer wait times. It really isnít that hard a concept to figure out. Most people want lower taxes though, and in a democratic society the majority usually wins, hence what we have.

    People here (in general) just arenít smart enough to realize what the consequences of lower taxes are, and instead just see the benefits of more money in their bank account. I am not making the argument for or against higher or lower taxes, but merely pointing out that with anything there are pros and cons. And most people in Michigan arenít able to grasps what the cons of lower taxes are.

    What "people here" aren't smart enough to grasp is throwing money @ a problem doesn't resolve it. I've had to renew my license once and my plate twice this year, and I didn't find it anywhere as painful as described above. If people would learn to read, (I know, we need more money for education) and figure out how the system works, they wouldn't have half the problems they do.

  8. #8

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    Here in Nevada, you can do nearly everything via computer. That includes registering a car (they mail you the plates and sticker) and most related items. About the only time the average Joe Blow has to appear in person is once every eight years for driver's license renewal (once every four years for those 65 and older). But our DMV's are still packed due to the numbers of those who don't do the internet.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atticus View Post
    It is the ďyou get what you pay forĒ concept that so many people in Michigan struggle to grasp.

    Lower taxes collected translates into less money to employ SOS workers, which results in longer wait times. It really isnít that hard a concept to figure out. Most people want lower taxes though, and in a democratic society the majority usually wins, hence what we have.

    People here (in general) just arenít smart enough to realize what the consequences of lower taxes are, and instead just see the benefits of more money in their bank account. I am not making the argument for or against higher or lower taxes, but merely pointing out that with anything there are pros and cons. And most people in Michigan arenít able to grasps what the cons of lower taxes are.
    I doubt it's a penny-pincher issue. Michigan's SOS would save a ton of money if it made a lot of its services electronic.

  10. #10

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    Those self-serve kiosks are nice - maybe add them at Meijer, Kroger, etc?

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by rb336 View Post
    Those self-serve kiosks are nice - maybe add them at Meijer, Kroger, etc?
    And who maintains them? Who fixes them when something goes wrong (which happens to any software system)? And the answer to that is a technician who costs a lot more to employ than a SOS clerk.

    Would kiosks be more convenient and helpful to people? Probably. But they would cost more, not less. Great ideas, but no one wants more taxes. They just want to complain about what they donít have, but donít want to pay more to fix the system.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
    I doubt it's a penny-pincher issue. Michigan's SOS would save a ton of money if it made a lot of its services electronic.
    They do make a lot of the services electronic. And for those they donít, you can book an appointment and essentially have no wait. Those services are all offered by Michigans SOS today.

    But there is a segment of the population who either doesnít have ready access to the internet, or maintains a schedule that makes appointments not practical. And that population thus does the walk ins, whose wait time is determined by how many clerks are on staff. It does come down to money.

    And finally, if the answer is that it is not worth spending more tax money to serve the ďwalk-insĒ faster...that is a perfectly valid argument. But letís just be honest in saying that a consequence of not spending the money is longer wait times for those who donít utilize online services. There is always a trade off somewhere.
    Last edited by Atticus; July-16-19 at 11:48 AM.

  13. #13

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    Can't you make appointments now? On the SOS website it shows an option for it. I have yet to see how it works, but hopefully will make visits a little easier.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpp1004 View Post
    Can't you make appointments now? On the SOS website it shows an option for it. I have yet to see how it works, but hopefully will make visits a little easier.
    Yes you can. I've done it and went to the SOS on my lunch break. I was back to work in less than 30 minutes. You can also renew your drivers license online as I had to do that recently.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpp1004 View Post
    Can't you make appointments now? On the SOS website it shows an option for it. I have yet to see how it works, but hopefully will make visits a little easier.
    So easy to do. I recently did to renew my license. But, make sure you get online to make the appt. a few weeks in advance of your renewal date. I was in and out in just about 30 min. as well.
    Last edited by Maof; July-16-19 at 01:44 PM.

  16. #16

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    I started using the kiosks for my tabs. It only, literally, costs $2-3 more & is extremely fast. I regret not doing it sooner. Maybe folks don't have their insurance current & have to use the counter. I'm pretty sure you have to have current insurance on your renewal forms to use the kiosk.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpp1004 View Post
    Can't you make appointments now? On the SOS website it shows an option for it. I have yet to see how it works, but hopefully will make visits a little easier.

    I handle almost all my SOS business online. The few times I had to go down in person and used Next In Line, it worked fairly well. You can sign up in the morning and they'll give you an estimate when your appointment will be. They send texts with updates for your appointment. If all 81 people lost their title, the line moves slower. If all 81 people just need tabs, the line moves quicker, etc. Once you get there, they have monitors that update, and you can see where you are. The only drawback is you can't wander too far away from the SOS. Even then, they send a text asking if you need more time.

  18. #18

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    When Candice Miller was Secy of State, she introduced some changes that were for the better. One was... you first went up to a pre-screening desk as you were entering the office. That prescreener asked you what your business was, and told you what documentation you needed for that purpose. So if you didn't have every document you needed, you left the SOS office rather than waiting potentially a long time for your number (which the prescreener gives you) to come up to the main counter, and find out that you didn't have everything you needed.

    She also initiated some other changes that escape me at the moment.

    One drawback in the last 20 years was the consolidation of the smaller SOS offices over the years into larger offices... thus precipitating longer waits, especially at the end of the month (for license plate tabs, cuz police will get you if your plates are past the month they expire).
    Last edited by Gistok; July-16-19 at 03:50 PM.

  19. #19

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    (for license plate tabs, cuz police will get you if your plates are past the month they expire)

    Brings back memories of every March 1 when I was on "the job". Back then, plates were a yearly thing that expired on that date. Writing tickets on March 1 was like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Today, with plates expiring throughout the year, just pay attention to when you need a new sticker and should be no problem. For what it's worth, I also moonlighted at AAA in January and February to help out with their license plate rush. Helped with a car payment or two.


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    2,257

    Default

    The current SofS campaigned on getting everyone in and out in 30 mins. Haven't heard how they plan to do that.

  21. #21

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    I think the next improvement should be appointment sorting. Last time I got my driver's license the issue seemed to be that you had ~10 desk clerks dealing with every type of request. License renewal. Tab renewal. People selling and/or buying cars. Title transfers. Issuing new plates. Issuing specialized licenses. The people next to me were switching plates to a new car, with a new title, and it seemed to take forever. It must have been complicated as the manager was helping the clerk work out what to do.

    For those situations they should have appointments set up with staff who know how to handle those situations. Regular staff can handle tabs and licenses. The more experienced staff can handle the weird title transfers, issuing new plates, RV and commercial stuff - things that are more complicated and time-consuming.

    This is a common technique in process optimization. In general, 80% of your workload is going to be generated by 20% of your customers. You don't want the processing of the other 80% of your customers to get bogged down by the 20% who need more help.

  22. #22

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    If you want to make an appointment you get one a couple weeks down the line. If you think you’re going to make an appointment for the next day it ain’t happening. I would say the system is slightly better then it used to be but the SOS office is a terrible place to have to go.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by softailrider View Post
    If you want to make an appointment you get one a couple weeks down the line. If you think youíre going to make an appointment for the next day it ainít happening. I would say the system is slightly better then it used to be but the SOS office is a terrible place to have to go.

    You're just simply wrong.
    Last edited by Honky Tonk; July-16-19 at 09:47 PM.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBMcB View Post
    I think the next improvement should be appointment sorting.
    Yep exactly what I was going to suggest.

    As far as appointments, coworker just did this earlier this week. Next available slot for the Troy office was 1st week in August.

    The get in line feature is so so. Yes you don't have to sit there but it always amazes me it is a multi hour wait even when getting in line early in the morning and there have been times it went from 20 users to next in line quicker than I could return so back to the end
    Last edited by pocketchange; July-17-19 at 07:18 AM.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Honky Tonk View Post
    You're just simply wrong.
    I have had the misfortune of having to go to the SOS office twice in the last 14 months. My experience was exactly as I described.

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