They hear you knocking, but you can't come in — without an appointment.
Harold Bowman stopped by the office on Tuesday, and he had a problem. He was trying to fulfill his obligations to the state, namely the Secretary of State. Bowman, who lives in Ludington and is in his 80s, has to get a new photo for his license.
His birthday is in July, and like most every single adult, our state is kind of enough to blow us birthday wishes of license and registration renewals.
Bowman doesn't have a computer, and he really doesn't want one, so for him — and let's face it, so many others — making an appointment for the Secretary of State a see-saw battle between patience and frustration.
He said he parked outside the Ludington branch office Tuesday, and he watched and he waited. A handful of people went in. He even thought one work might have taken a lunch. He couldn't go in, though. He didn't have an appointment.
He said he then went to the police department to help. A call was made to 1-888-767-6424 — the same number the Secretary of State's office told me in an email Daily News he should use. The police officer told Bowman it was just a recording.
Bowman's frustration was that he was asked to call a number that had a recording referring to a website to make an appointment. He kept getting a recording, and he felt he was getting the run-around, too.
"We want to follow (the law)," he said Tuesday. "There are a lot of us that don't have a computer. We're not computer savvy."
After Bowman left our building, we called the number.
During the recording, it states that branch offices are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment.
There are four areas that people need to make an appointment, otherwise folks can use the mail or conduct business online. The message was clear — no walk-ins.
During the message, a woman says there are some driver's license/state ID transactions that need to be done in person, such as a first-time commercial driver's license or replacing an enhanced driver's license, title transfers for motor vehicles, some testing and seasonal commercial vehicle renewals.
The message stated this once, but it could be two or three times because it's easy to zone out. The woman had a pleasant, but monotone voice.
Finally, shortly before 9 minutes elapsed on the call, options.
Yes, OPTIONS. I could press a number after 9 minutes.
It was nine minutes of what you can do and what you can't do, but options were no where to be heard.
There were seven options, finally, and the first option was for pressing "7" - scheduling an appointment at a branch Secretary of State office.
The remaining six options, dealt with other issues like titles and registration and filing a complaint. But Option 7 was the choice for Harold.
At least the Secretary of State front-loaded the option as opposed to listening to six other choices, then the one Harold needs.
Now, after more than 12 minutes on the phone — and a quick reminder of all the things you can set an appointment for, you can press "1" to make the actual appointment.
I didn't press the number because I didn't need the appointment as much as Harold, and he wasn't here to assist him further. So, I disconnected.
So, Harold, if you're reading, as soon as you call the number, press 7. Then press 1. You should be able to save 10 minutes — at least. I hope there isn't another 10 minutes of reminders of what you can and can't make an appointment for because the phone line covers it extensively.
And, please accept an apology. What I should have done was assisted you with making the appointment right here with a computer. That would have been the right thing to do. It would have saved you some further frustration.
Hopefully, Harold and anyone else needing to set an appointment with the Secretary of State, we've saved some time and some trouble.
That way when you show up at their office, they'll see you knocking and they'll let you in for your appointment.