'Curious' Why The Wait When Calling The RMVCBS

You call and call and call again, and are stuck on hold for what seems like forever.

Jan from Abington has had it with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. She declared her outrage on our Curiosity Web page saying:

“I’ve heard the ‘thank you for your patience’ blurb nearly a hundred times! What’s going on at the RMV?”

As David Wade found out, it’s not great now, but there are plans for improvement.

When you call the Registry’s number you’ll hear plenty of recorded messages like “Thank you for your patience….” and “Please stay on the line and you will be connected….” and “Your call is important to us.”

But Jan from Abington doesn’t believe her call was important to the Registry.

“Absolutely not,” she says.

Before David Wade began his interview with Jan he called the Registry, promptly entered the queue, and put his phone on speaker to see if he’d get through to a human being before the interview ended.


But back to Jan. Here’s what happened to her. She tried to renew her license online, but received an email from the Registry saying they couldn’t do it, and to call 617-351-4500 to find out why. She did…over and over and over again. She says she waited on hold the first time for 15 minutes, and then gave up. It was 20 minutes the second time she called before she hung up. The third time she lasted an hour before she called it quits. “Aggravating. Very aggravating,” she fumes. The only thing that kept her sane was walking her dogs while she was on hold, listening to canned music. “I think it stinks,” she says.

Jan’s not the only frustrated caller. We waited outside the Registry office in Watertown for only 15 minutes and found 3 people who had tried the phone system and never got through. They finally went to the office for help. “It kept saying your call is important to us, but I never actually got a person on the phone,” said one Registry customer. We tried too, calling 15 times over a three week period, often giving up after thirty minutes on hold. Other times we were able to get through to a human being after 29 minutes, 25 minutes, 21 minutes and 20 minutes. The best we did was 9 minutes.


We went to the Registry’s phone center in Quincy to find out what was going on.

The first issue is staffing. The call center used to have 57 employees, but budget cuts have taken that number down to 46. “We’re not satisfied with our wait time on the call center at this moment,” says Registrar Rachel Kaprielian. It’s tough for them to keep up with the demand. “2.2 million calls a year, 300,000 a month, that is an enormous volume, and we are doing our best to keep that wait time down,” she says. She also says being on hold more than 10 minutes is unreasonable. But staff cuts are only one part of the problem. “Our current phone system is over a decade old, which in phone system terms is, it’s ancient,” says Kaprielian. The good news, a new system is going to be installed. The bad news, it won’t be up and running for 6 months.

That’s little comfort for Jan from Abington. “To have somebody not be there to answer a question I have that would make my life easier, it just drives me up the wall,” she says. We finished our interview and were still on hold, so we waited. We finally got through to a Registry employee in 22 minutes.

Even with the budget cuts and antiquated phone system, the Registry says it has reduced wait times during each of the last 3 months, and promises to do a better job once the new system is installed.

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