LISTEN TO the comments of those leaving some branches of the state's Motor Vehicle Administration this year, from customer service cards from MVA centers throughout the state:

"I feel as if I have entered the circus," one customer wrote.

"Clerk was rude, uncooperative and did not explain needed information on fees. She acted like she was doing me a favor by taking $70," a customer from Gaithersburg relayed.

And this from Largo: "I have observed over 30 stations but not even half are being utilized. Hire more people, especially during your peak times."

"The employees here are very rude," wrote one customer from the Glenmont Shopping Center MVA office in Montgomery County.

"They don't listen to what customers are saying and asking, which only contributes to conflicted communications. I observed that people of foreign cultures are treated very poorly."

From the Bel Air MVA office in Harford County, one customer fumed, "Representative failed to listen to the problem before saying I was wrong. Supervisor had to resolve my problem. This should not have happened. Solutions cannot be identified if MVA is not listening."

Staff was 'friendliest'

Not to focus strictly on bad times, here are a few positive comments: "The staff was the most friendliest I've ever encountered at MVA," a customer said in Leonardtown.

"I was very impressed," another wrote from Loveville in Southern Maryland. "Got license in record time -- could teach Waldorf [MVA] how to become efficient."

"I'm originally from New York and this was the most painless experience I've ever had at MVA. These express MVAs should stay," a Montgomery County customer gushed, while another happy camper at the same location said, "I came to renew my license and the whole process took less than 20 minutes. WOW!!"

In Gaithersburg, a customer was greeted by a long line when he visited MVA on the dreaded last day of the month, but observed, "I have never seen so many people directed so quickly and courteously to where they needed to go. I was completely finished in 30 minutes."

With scads of varying opinions flooding in on comment cards every month, MVA administrators say they are on perpetual lookout for ways to make their daily operation smoother.

Your Intrepid One recently spent a few hours sifting through 250 such comment forms in search of answers. Almost every one lists either a compliment, suggestion or problem ranging from the succinct "You stink" to the more detailed "You need Spanish person working here to help the Spanish community."

MVA spokesman James P. Lang said the comment forms are part of an informal internal survey available to -- but not pushed on -- customers when they visit the 24 MVA offices statewide. The results are given to MVA office managers who, Lang said, often learn a thing or two about their operations and employees.

The best advice your wheelster can offer, if you must visit the MVA for a driver's license renewal or other minor business, is to seek out one of the six MVA Express offices at: the Charles Center Metro station; Kenilworth Park Mall in Towson; Columbia Business Center in Howard County; Walnut Hill Shopping Center and Glenmont Shopping Center, both in Montgomery County; and Landover Mall in Prince George's County.

You'll breeze through with a minimal wait -- and the clerks are friendly and proud of the fact that most customers leave their offices with a smile and renewed confidence in MVA. One driver said her license mug shot was taken, retaken and retaken yet again until the final product pleased her. Now that's service.

Because the Express offices don't offer all MVA services, you may want to take a trip to the boondocks to conduct other MVA business -- if it's convenient. That's what some customers do while trying to avoid a bad experience at either the Glen Burnie headquarters or the Mondawmin Mall office in Baltimore -- home to megaheadaches and frequent long lines.

Tips for your MVA trip

And here are other tips that may make your MVA experience easier: Go early: Be there at 8 a.m.

Go early in the month -- try to avoid month's end when the Procrastinator's Ball is in full swing.

Call ahead to make sure you'll bring all necessary identification forms for your transaction.

Bring a good book and a light snack -- just in case.

Intrepid invites your stories and opinions on MVA, too. Stories may be published, so share them by calling the hot line -- 410-783-1800, Ext. 4305, or in Anne Arundel County, dial 410-268-7736.

Pub Date: 4/21/97

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