Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When the simple becomes absurd

I'm probably going to step on some toes here, but I am going to say it anyway: sometimes it's just ridiculous trying to get things that should be relatively simple accomplished here in our fine state.

A few weeks ago, we had a classic experience. Our friend Ani returned from India to live with us. I took her to the MVD on Monday morning to get her NM license renewed (it had expired 3 years ago). We drove an hour to go to the office in Red River, because the MVD office in Taos is locally known for long waits and surly employees. In she went, with her expired license (that once proved who she was, didn't it?) and her passport in hand. Boy, were we barking up the wrong tree. This woman was not going to make this easy.

And so begins what would become a five day odyssey. First, a trip to the taos county tax assessor's office for a copy of Ani's tax bill for her very rural property, which turned out to not be acceptable for proof of residency, because it didn't have a 911 street address. Then, a trip to Santa Fe for a signed and stamped affidavit from the Social Security Administration (please note: your social security card is not to be used as legal identification, except, apparently, if you need a driver's license in NM). Then, another trip back to Red River...whereupon the "nice" MVD lady is getting testy because her lack of giving proper information in the first place has now cost three days' trips and yes, it's true...not enough correct documentation. She forgot to mention the bank account...yes, having a bank account will do the trick!

Back to Taos. Open a bank account. Get signed paperwork from the bank. Drive back another hour to Red River. OOPS! No dice. You must wait until the first statement is mailed to you, and bring that in. Oh, and I forgot to mention the trip to our lawyer's office for the required, notarized, affidavit signed by Roger, acknowledging that Ani lives with us and we know her to a good person.

I will not trouble you with the rest of the attempts to try to divine up what the MVD wanted. When they finally had it right, on day five (I was out of town by this time, and Roger had taken up the cause), the MVD lady says "Oh, do you want a driver's license? 'Cause my machine is broken, and I haven't been able to make them all week!" (This is now Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in Red River). A last resort trip back to the MVD office in Taos that afternoon yielded not only the only known nice, helpful, and polite person in the MVD office, but at last, a driver's license.

And this is a state that issues drivers' licenses to people who don't even have citizenship or passports. Not that I care, but how do they manage their way through this maze and get licensed?

My next gripe is from this week. I have been told repeatedly by my postmaster that ANY package over 13 oz. being shipped out of the United States MUST be shipped by Priority mail rates. I have had to charge obscene postage prices to my dear Canadian customers because of this (bad) information, and this week, I paid $27.50 in postage to send a 14 oz. package of wool to a customer in Australia. I had finally hit my limit when my Australian customer told me she had never paid more than $11.00 for a similar purchase from another U.S. vendor. Off I went to the wretched U.S. Postal system website.

There I found that yes, Virginia, there is a First Class International postage rate for packages up to 4 lbs., if under a certain physical size. Back I went to my P.O. yesterday, printed web pages in hand, to challenge my postmaster. She would not even look at them. I was trying hard to be diplomatic (not my strong suit when irritated) and explain my concern about this conflict in information, when she said..."and what's your point?" Her best and final answer: there is only priority mail over 13 oz., because her machine tells her so.

So today I went to another post office in our area...and guess what? They know about the much lower international shipping rate and will let me use it! Imagine that! I know the postal system is in trouble, but getting hosed unnecessarily on postage is not the way to fix the problems. Will I report her and this incident? No. It will serve me no good, and most likely, not fix the problem. That's just how it is here sometimes.

So IF you've stayed with me this long, and IF you happen to be one of my customers from out of country, please know that when I reopen my Etsy shop at the end of May, I will now, officially, offer international shipping at reasonable (compared to priority) prices. My deepest apologies to those of you who have gotten stuck, in the past, with high postage rates because of my Postmaster's lack of knowledge.

Thank you for putting up with my rant. Things are screwy here, sometimes, and often it's what we love about living here...but sometimes it just gets to be too much, and I need to get it off my shoulders. Please feel free to share your own, similar, stories with might be comforting to know this happens in other places.


Poetrycompany said...

Martie: Bob has experienced similar issues in Mesquite & Forney. He says customer service no longer exists & courtesy is rare. He will LOVE reading your blog. He thinks it only happens to him!!

RuthieJ said...

That's so sad Martie.... It always annoys me when people in "customer service" positions just don't get it. I'm glad you persisted (without losing your cool) for the results you wanted and needed.

Taos Sunflower said...

Teresa: Please tell Bob he and Roger can swap stories sometime! Yesterday was another one of those days...both our cars were at the dealers for maintenance in Santa Fe and after 7 hours in the shop and "new" spark plugs, he drove a few hundred yards only to discover he was missing a cylinder. Back to Ford! Then, halfway home from SF, the engine light came on. I would NOT want to be the guy in the service department today! (And this is the truck we plan to drive 1,000 miles across the desert next week.)

Taos Sunflower said...

Ruthie: I've almost decided that manners and courtesy (along with a host of other attributes) have all but gone down the toilet in much of our country. However, having said that, one nice person can sure make up for a few of the others! Yay for the nice people who are left!

Sage to Meadow said...

Martie, Are you ever persistent and tolerant, a good person. I don't blame you for getting frustrated and off-set. What a nightmare. Brenda went to Stephenville to mail a package and asked for some tape to seal it better and the clerk handed her the tape and said Brenda had to seal it because they could not--liability issue if the package fell apart! The tape was stuck at the ends and she spent thirty minutes dinking with that plus the other clerk was in training at the counter and was having difficulty making the transaction. Brenda came out cussing and stating she was going to use FedEx from here on out.

Martie, Going to Red River is quite a jaunt to try and get good customer service...then the trouble.

As you write: Yay! For the nice people left.

Taos Sunflower said...

Jack: OMG, I almost choked on my coffee laughing. Poor Brenda, we are sisters in, well...annoyance at the post office, at least. Please tell her last year's postal stories would have been about OUR trainee, the one the left alone on Saturdays, who was sweet but had no clues...I could have written a story about her and my attempt at sending something certified mail. Honestly, sometimes I think it's a wonder anything in this country works at all!

Robyn said...

Hey Martie, Just catching up on blogs..and I have had the exact same situation with packages to Australia and my NYC post office. Beyond irritating! If it makes you feel any better, our local P.O. was actually voted the nation's 2nd worst post office. I have twice seen customers (there is always a line AT LEAST 20 minutes long, usually longer) nearly start to riot because of slowness, incompetence and general unpleasantness of the staff. You are not alone... : )

Taos Sunflower said...

Robyn: NO WAY! The second worst in the nation? I wonder if my post office is #1????

Emily said...

I use so I don't have to deal with the folks at the post office, except to drop off the package. And I think you can get pick-up from the PO too. In any case, the full array of shipping possibilities are available using their service, so you aren't limited by the ignorance of whoever you meet behind the PO counter.

I don't have any advice on the MVD though.

(It looks like I'm Emily, but I'm really Lisa, in Chimayo)