March 23, 2006

Passport Office Wait Times Wildly Off

I was applying for a new passport today so I checked the Canadian passport office website for times and locations.

I was happy to see that the site had average wait times posted. I saw that the Surrey office was averaging ten minutes and the Vancouver office was at 18 minutes. Surrey is a bit closer anyway, so I took the Skytrain to the office, arriving less than half an hour after I'd checked the website.

There was a line out into the hallway when I got there around 12:50 p.m. Hmm. I was assigned a number at 1:04 p.m. My number was called at 2:13 p.m. That's 69 minutes from getting a number to getting service, or seven times the wait posted on the website. The real wait was 83 minutes, or over eight times what was posted.

I asked a staff member how often the website was updated. She shouted down the row and a guy answered that it was refreshed about every ten minutes. Right. She said the wait time was always around an hour.

While I laud the government in its high-tech, near real-time efforts, what is the point of providing wildly innacurate data? Rather than smoothing the process, it just makes clients angrier because it raises false expectations.

When I checked the website again at 3:30 p.m., the wait time was posted as 18 minutes.

Just give us the truth, OK?

Posted by Paul at March 23, 2006 03:30 PM