(Update: there is still no responsiveness three days later, see blog article.)
The Assignment Branch is failing to provide acceptable tech support for its new Assignment Center.
Yesterday was my first opportunity to see how badly designed the new Assignment Center system is. This is the replacement for EPAS/ETAS that was going to be placed into service on December 4, 2023, and got postponed to January 15, 2024, and got postponed to January 22, 2024, and then got accelerated to January 19, 2024, and then got postponed to February 5, 2024.
So yesterday I needed to e-file an Assignment to get recorded against a PCT application. And it turns out that the designers of Assignment Center made a big mistake and failed to support recording Assignments against PCT applications that were filed in Receiving Offices other than the RO/US. See blog article. The failure message is quoted above.
The Assignment Branch lists two ways that it supposedly provides tech support for its new Assignment Center system. One way is by email. The idea is that you could send an email to “firstname.lastname@example.org”. I did that yesterday evening, spelling out the details of the bug in Assignment Center that fails to allow me to e-file the Assignment against the PCT application. Today at 8:30 AM Eastern Time, the people who answer that email address arrived at work. But by now, more than four hours have passed and I have not received any response to that email message. That is a disappointment.
So I gave up and tried the other way that the Assignment Branch lists as a way to receive tech support for its new Assignment Center system, namely to call the Assignment Branch on the telephone ( +1-571-272-3350 ). I dialed the number and worked my way through the robot attendant, eventually getting placed into a queue to talk with a human being. I was told “there are currently 9 calls ahead of you”. Here is what Mister Deep Voice has now said to me more than twenty times:
Your call is important to us. All Examiners are still busy assisting other customers. Please continue to hold, and an Examiner will be with you shortly.
Eventually a human being answered (a person with the initials “MC”). This person said he was absolutely unable to assist in any way other than to “create a ticket”. And no, this person could not say when or if I would actually hear back about this ticket. It is ticket number 1-849780117.
This person claims that customer beta testing began “two weeks ago”. I pressed him on this, asking if he was saying that customer beta testing really did begin on January 22, 2024. He insisted that yes, the customer beta testing did begin on January 22, 2024 and “even before that”.
I asked to speak with the manager of the Assignment Branch. MC said that this is Joyce R. Johnson. He offered to transfer me to her. This went to voicemail. I left a detailed voicemail message.
If and when I hear back from Ms. Johnson I will have several questions:
- Why have I heard nothing back in response to my email of yesterday to her designated tech support email address?
- Is it really true that customer beta testing has been going on since January 22? If so, then how can it be that so many very serious bugs were in the system on launch day (yesterday)?
- When will her system get the bug fixed so that I can record my Assignment?