The DMV and continuous integration

My father recently had an experience which bitterly proves that minor details can have major consequences. Last week, his insurance company mistakenly reported to the DMV that the coverage on his auto had lapsed. The DMV responded by revoking his tags within the space of 48 hours (quite speedy for them). To resolve the matter, he had to take proof of insurance to a local DMV office (in someone else’s vehicle, of course).

Here’s how the process went, in his own words:

  1. Go to the DMV office on Academy St.
  2. Find out they only do driver’s licenses there.
  3. Go to the DMV office at Walnut and US-1. Walk up to the desk.
  4. Find out that the FS-1 form the insurance company faxed me has an effective insurance date of 3/34/05 rather than 3/24/05. It’s not acceptable.
  5. Find a pay phone to call the insurance company for a corrected form. Seems I left my cell phone at home.
  6. Get the insurance company to fax the corrected form to the DMV office I’m standing outside of.
  7. Go back into the DMV office and finish the transaction.
  8. Walk out with my sticker, new registration, and the confidence that comes with obeying our state laws.

Suprisingly, aside from the nuisance of having to physically go to a DMV office, most of the blame for the mistake lies with his insurance company. First, their computers reported him as uninsured, which was, of course, incorrect. Second, when proof of insurance was faxed to him, the date on it wasn’t just off by a day or two… the date wasn’t even valid!

If we assume that the insurance company used a computer to generate the form (a safe assumption), this means that one of the following must be true:

  1. Their processing is so antiquated that they’re simply filling out word processor templates; the incorrect date was human error
  2. The software they’re using isn’t smart enough to catch invalid dates
  3. The software they’re using has a good, ol’ fashioned bug

If #1, they really should consider upgrading their systems to minimize the impact of human error. If #2, they need to consider investing in a more sophisticated software package. In my book, date validation is a fairly important feature! If #3, they were either sold lousy software or their in-house development group needs to do a better job of testing.

Minor details can have major consequences. The best way to ensure the integrity of minor details is to test them. The best way to test something is to always run tests. The best way to always run tests is to use a continuous integration system!

Now if only someone at my father’s insurance company would read this…

3 thoughts on “The DMV and continuous integration

  1. Also, it’s too bad he can’t be reimbursed for his time. I had a debacle a few years ago in which the insurance company never sent a bill to me, and yet reported to DMV that my insurance lapsed…that cost a lot of heartache. Since I have no way to prove it was never sent, what can I do?

    Needless to say, they lost a customer for life.

Comments are closed.