Friday, June 17, 2011

Passport Renewal at DFA: A Better System Goes a Long Way

Today, we went to DFA to have my wife's passport renewed and my 2-year old's first passport processed. 

We left the house at 6:30 am with horrors playing in my mind with images of long queues, body heat and noisy fixers. Our appearance appointment was at 8:00 am, so we were hell bent on making it on time, since I didn't want to reschedule it again. We arrived pretty early and parked at DFA headquarters on Roxas Blvd., only to find out the passport appearances have been moved to the new building at Macapagal Ave near Mall of Asia. We were really hungry since we left without breakfast, so we decided to just get it over with.

Well, to tell you honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. We were in and out of there in like an hour or so (for a government agency, this is really good), and waiting wasn't really a bother. Our appointment time was 8:00 am but we were at the cashier even before that time. The building looked new, good airconditioning, and clean. There were no fixers around at all since it was strictly enforced. Staff were courteous, and led the people properly to their designated seats. Actually we spent most of the time moving up the line than we did sitting down. 

This was the clincher: while we were on our way to Step 2 (cashier) which was all the way up on the second floor and in another wing of the building, I got an anonymous call on my mobile phone. An official DFA employee from Step 1 (ground floor) found my wife's passport on the floor. My wife told him she would go back and get it, but the man on the phone said he would bring it up to us personally. He went all the way to the Step 3 location (enrollment and encoding) to hand over the passport to my wife. Woah, were we at a government office? 

At Step 3: Encoding and Enrollment - about 60 people ahead of us, but it was our turn in less than 15 minutes. Now that's what I call an efficient system. There are a lot of encoding stations where you can take your passport photo with a Canon Ixus, take your fingerprints digitally and have your information encoded into the system. Notice the smile on my wife's face and how fresh she still looks. Not typical when doing government errands and stuff, right?

So that Gabby would just sit and behave while we waited for our turn, we gave him the ultimate baby sitter, the iPad.

I managed to take a shot of Gabby from afar talking to the staff of DFA during his encoding step. He had a lot of retakes for his photo (looking to the side, eyes closed...etc) but eventually got a great first passport photo. Couldn't say the same for my wife though. She said she looked horrible because according to the girl, "Don't show your teeth." Is that really a passport photo policy?

The last step was Passport Delivery Service. You pay P120 per passport, and they will deliver it to your home on the date appointed. Convenient! We were out of DFA before 9 am!

We had the extra time before I had to go to work, so we had a good brunch at Flapjacks in Greenhills. Country fried chicken and Chicken Longganisa. Yummy way to start the day. 

Look, maybe it was because our appointment was early in the morning, and people were less harassed, but nevertheless, great job DFA.  It proves that if you have a good and effective system in place, you will have happy customers. Anyone have a bad experience with DFA? Please let me know.

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