More Pandemic Tech Failures: Renewing my Driver’s License

Recently I renewed my driver’s license and provincial health card through an online system. Being able to complete this task online and according to my schedule was a relief. It seemed odd that I could renew photo IDs online without uploading a picture. I always thought my photo IDs expired after 5 (or 10 years) expressly to get a new picture. In this case, however, the new cards will likely have my existing picture.

Everything was smooth and easy with the online process, until the end. With a driver’s license and health card renewal, the confirmation documents need to be printed. This is to validate the expired cards until new ones arrive in the mail. The whole process fell apart at the printing page.

After completing the renewal process, and paying the fee, I had an option. I could either print or download the renewal documents. I selected print. When I realized our new printer hadn’t been hooked up to my iPad, I tried to email the documents as a backup option. The documents would only email as a link that opened to a blank page. Before connecting the printer to the iPad, I also tried to download the documents. This option also failed. In the 3-4 minutes it took me to configure the printer, all of the renewal documents had disappeared. Completely. There was no way to recover them. My receipt was in my inbox, but not the critical renewal documents.

Technology Fail with an Online Renewal System

According to the website, I now had to visit a ServiceOntario center to get printed copies. The following Monday morning, in the middle of another pandemic lockdown, I went to the nearest center. I had to explain my situation to two different agents, one of whom had to call his superior for instructions. Finally, I got the printouts.

Throughout this entire process, it seemed odd that I didn’t have the option to email myself the documents. Or that the system didn’t email them automatically like it had the receipt. What about people renewing their documents at a public computer? Or people who don’t have a printer? Why wasn’t there an option to show the renewal documents electronically as verification, rather than a print copy?

A year+ into a pandemic, I expect better with technology and electronic options. Hopefully I receive the renewed cards soon so I can stop carrying around all this paper.

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