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McDuffie driver's license office is one of quickest in state

The Thomson driver's licensing center is one of the top 10 fastest places in the state to get a driver's license. A report issued last week by the Department of Driver Services listed 18 Customer Service Centers in the state with an average customer waiting time of less than five minutes before receiving service. Thomson is listed ninth, with an average waiting time of 3 minutes, 6 seconds.

"I'm glad we are on the list. We have worked hard to make our wait time fast, and I hope we can stay on the list," said Joey Scott, the Customer Service Center Manager of the Thomson center.

Mr. Scott said the Thomson center has four employees and averages about 450 customers per week.

"They come from almost any county you can think of - Richmond, Columbia, and we have even had some come from Atlanta, because their appointments for road tests sometimes get backed up," he said.

Susan Sports, the Public Information Officer for the DDS, said the department has been successfully working to improve the customer wait time at all of its centers because one customer's long wait can establish a negative reputation.

"It is like throwing a pebble into a brook and the waves ripple out; there's a domino effect," she said. "If one goes and there's a bad experience, then it's word of mouth. Then they say 'oh, you don't want to go there,' and it has an effect on all of them."

It was these waves that brought Martinez resident Elizabeth Robinson and her son, Ethan, to the Thomson office for his first driver's license. Mrs. Robinson said she heard from a friend "how bad the wait was at the Evans office," and then later heard from a co-worker about the fast service at the Thomson office.

"So I put two and two together and thought, 'Hmm, I think I'll go to Thomson,'" she said. "We were very pleased. It was very speedy, and they were very kind. So I have been recommending it to my friends. ... They (teens) are so nervous taking that exam anyway, and waiting would have just made it worse. So Ethan was pleased, too."

Remodeling work is underway to make the Thomson center even speedier. Ms. Sports said the local center is one of 10 in the state being remodeled for better customer service. Mr. Scott said work is being done after business hours and should be completed by the end of April. A wall has been knocked out between the lobby and the office, creating more space for seating, which has already been put in place. Another wall is being moved to create a testing room so that test-takers can have a place to sit down away from the noise and distractions of the main office area while testing.

Because the Thomson center offers commercial license tests, Mr. Scott said it "sometimes gets hectic." He said Tuesdays and Saturdays are usually the busiest days, and Wednesdays are slower. The Thomson center offers all services except reinstatements, and these will be offered by mid-summer, Mr. Scott said.

To further cut back on waiting time, Mr. Scott recommends customers use the department's website, Online services include initiating a change of address, replacing a lost license, viewing and/or downloading a copy of one's driving history, taking a practice knowledge test and verifying an existing road test reservation. For more information, call 1-866-754-3687.

Web posted on Thursday, April 05, 2007

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