When you log online to ServiceOntario.ca, you are promised service, that anything you need is easy and accessible. Oops, they messed that up.
Last Thursday, I received a standard notification in the mail that my licence plate would soon expire, so I logged into the site and followed the cues to order a new licence plate sticker online. These days, why would you line up at a counter?
I filled in the required data fields, provided an email box for a receipt, but the order was not accepted because the software didn’t like my credit card. Today, I repeated the process, re-entering all the data, offered another credit card and again my order was not processed. A reason for this wasn’t given; there was no message online indicating that the computer service was offline.
After all of the frustration entering data that the computer program dismissed, I drove to the Oshawa ServiceOntario location. Lines of people extended out the front door and there were no parking spaces available on the ServiceOntario lot, so people were parking on lots of nearby businesses. Undaunted, I drove to Bowmanville and stood in line behind 20 people.
When my number was called, I approached a clerk at a window. I said, “how is this better service? I tried to do this online but the computer would only let me fill in the data fields. It wouldn’t confirm an order or issue a receipt. Is your computer system down?”
She replied, “I don’t think so.” I said, “it would be nice if there had been a notice that the system was offline so that I or anyone else would not keep entering data to complete an order.” She was attractive, mid-forties with that blank look that most civil servants acquire with years of service. There was no point to ask her to do anything about it because it wasn’t her job to do anything about it.
She handed me the sticker and returned my bank card. She had been polite, sure, but it was a routine politeness, dry, perfunctory, honed by thousands of repetitious encounters at that wicket. It struck me that ServiceOntario hadn’t really changed anything.
Professional. Retired. Canadian.