Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Barry Soper: More AA staff needed as renewing license becomes a hour wait

The sign that greeted the ever increasing driver's licence queue should have raised alarm bells. Photo / Doug Sherring
The sign that greeted the ever increasing driver's licence queue should have raised alarm bells. Photo / Doug Sherring

Few of us would argue that the technological revolution hasn't enhanced our lives, although if you've lost your jobs as a result of it you'd obviously have less enthusiasm.

As the revolution progresses there seems to be fewer people around doing the jobs that expedite our daily dealings, although checking in at airports without queuing at the counters and automatically checking out at the supermarket without waiting in line are distinct advantages.

Try something as simple as renewing your driver's licence though and be prepared to put aside the best part of an hour. In Wellington's CBD the job's been farmed out to the organisation many of us value greatly, the Automobile Association, which comes at the drop of a hat if your car battery runs flat or if a tyre is in the same condition.

The sign that greeted the ever increasing driver's licence queue should have raised alarm bells. It told us that at times their centre can be very busy and they'd appreciate our patience.

After waiting forty minutes during which time one of the three attendants spent the entire time on the telephone, no doubt dealing with a Government department, as her client waited and the rest of us sighed, you had plenty of time to contemplate the rest of the words on the sign which told us that "while people may find the rules that we work within frustrating, note that any direct threats, threatening behaviour or acts of violence against our staff or customers will not be tolerated. If any of these situations occur, we will call the police without hesitation."

The message was pretty clear, zip it and wait your turn with good grace.

It's a pity though that only three of the five counters were being manned and it was frustrating to see back office staff coming and going with water bottles and coffee as the now agitated line grew longer.

For AA's sake, it's a public relations pity that they took over the contract from the real issuing authority, the NZ Transport Agency. If the contract is lucrative, which it obviously is, then why can't they employ more staff to handle the workload, or alternatively automate the process?

It was a little hard at the end of the process to be told to smile for the new driver's licence photo.

At least getting an AA mechanic to a breakdown is quicker and besides thankfully you only have to renew your licence every ten years.

- NZ Herald

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