This Is What You Get For Moving!

, , , , | Working | October 6, 2020

After a long search, I finally buy a home. As one of the first things a responsible owner should do, I update all my addresses with utilities, bills, and my vehicle registration. The DMV has an online form so I fill it out and send it. I get an auto-confirmation that everything is good and I think nothing more of it. My vehicle renews every October.

The registration never arrives. Thinking something has gone wrong, I go to my insurance which happens to have some DMV functions. The clerk advises that no address change was made and fixes it on her computer, and I pay my fees.

One year later, no registration. I call the DMV and the clerk on the phone repeats my correct address. Now I’m confused that I never got my registration and yet my address is correct. The DMV clerk offers no advice other than that it was likely a glitch. I go back to my insurance to pay fees and the clerk confirms everything is fine address-wise.

About half a year later, it’s time for my driver’s license renewal. Figuring that there’s no way I’m getting that by mail, I make a DMV appointment. One week before the appointment, the renewal arrives! Overjoyed, I cancel the appointment thinking this is all behind me.

A few months later… no vehicle renewal. And thanks to California law, this is the year I need my vehicle SMOG check done; for those unfamiliar, this is a vehicle emissions check. Luckily, they use the vehicle’s VIN but I can’t believe it.

I ask this DMV clerk about this. She says the address was never updated. Huh? So, my online update through your online system didn’t work, the update through my insurance carrier didn’t work, a DMV clerk confirmed my correct address, but no, my address is still incorrect. She tells me to mail it in.

Well, I’m off to get my SMOG check and God only knows what year four will bring!

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Bet You Weren’t Expecting That

, , , , , , | Working | August 21, 2020

It is the mid-1980s and my mum is pregnant with me. She is about to take her driving test for the second time. Dad has bought her to the test centre and they are waiting for the examiner to arrive.

Eventually, he comes over with some paperwork and practically throws it at Mum.

“And do you have any other disabilities besides being pregnant?” he asks.

Mum is upset; Dad is furious. Not surprisingly, Mum fails her driving test, and she and Dad make an official complaint to the Driving Test Centre about the examiner’s attitude. Dad conveniently mentions that he is a serving police officer and that police driving instructors would never talk to anyone like that, so civilian instructors definitely should not. All the examiners have to undertake retraining following the incident and the rude examiner is moved to another location.

Mum passed her test on her next attempt.

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No One Can Take The New Car Smell From You

, , , | Working | July 19, 2020

I am super psyched because I have just bought a BRAND new car, and I am going down to get my car tag the same day, paying cash. I am totally bubbling with happiness. Maybe I am high on new-car smell.

When I finally get to the window, I smile at the clerk and proudly hand over my dealership papers. The clerk begins to process my request, looks at all my paperwork, and then glares at me.

Clerk #1: “I’ll need to see the window price sticker from the vehicle.”

Me: *Still smiling* “Really? Why?”

Clerk #1: “I need to see the VIN.”

The VIN is the Vehicle Identification Number. I cheerfully point it out on the paperwork.

Me: “It’s here.”

Clerk #1: “I still need to see your window sticker.”

I look at the long line of people waiting to be served. 

Me: “When I get back with it, can I just come back up to your window, since I’ve already waited in line? I am on my lunch hour.”

Clerk #1: “No. You’ll have to line up and wait your turn just like everyone else.”

I go four blocks down the street and get said paper from my glove box, my happy mood evaporating. 

I wait in line another forty-five minutes, all my new-car joy dampened. When I get up to the window, I am called over to a different clerk. I give her the paperwork I initially gave to the first clerk.

She rapidly processes my request, takes my money, and hands me a car tag. She NEVER asks about the window price sticker.

I look over at the previous clerk, who has been staring at me all through my interaction with the second clerk. I turn back to nice [Clerk #2] who’s just given me my tag.

Me: “Do you need to see my window sticker?”

Clerk #2: “Of, of course not! I got all the info from your sales papers.”

I glance back to [Clerk #1]. He just grins.  

Me: *Sighs* “Happy mood erased.”

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License To Get Frustrated

, , , , , , , | Working | June 30, 2020

About a year and half ago, I moved from Florida to Pennsylvania for graduate school. Since I was moving as a student, it wasn’t necessary for me to go through all the steps to change my residency, such as updating my driver’s license or vehicle registration.

It is now time for me to renew my Florida vehicle registration. I am technically a resident of Florida, but I receive an email saying that my registration has been denied due to my car insurance being for Pennsylvania. I didn’t have this issue last year, even though my circumstances haven’t changed. I call my insurance company to figure out what is going on and what my next steps should be. 

Insurance Agent: “Well, since you are located for most of the year in Pennsylvania, you should probably register your car there.”

Me: “Okay, but I am not a Pennsylvania resident. I don’t think I’m allowed to register my car here without changing my residency, and I would rather not do that. I’m probably not staying here after I graduate.”

Insurance Agent: “That’s fine! Because you are a student, that allows you to register your car in Pennsylvania, even without a Pennsylvania license.”

Me: “Okay, thank you! I will look into that.”

As I am still not certain this is correct, I call the Pennsylvania DMV.

Me: “Hi, I’m a student and Florida resident. However, my insurance company said I could register my car in Pennsylvania regardless?”

DMV Representative: “No, you need a Pennsylvania license. If you don’t have one, you can’t register your car here.”

Me: “That’s what I thought. I’ll call my insurance agency back. Thank you!”

After explaining this entire situation again on the phone:

Insurance Agent #2: “Okay, I can absolutely change your policy to a Florida one. That’s strange that it changed.”

Me: “Great, thank you! I didn’t make any changes in the last year, so I’m not sure how that happened.”

I spend a good deal of time on hold, while the agent begins to change everything over.

Insurance Agent #2: “So, there are actually notes from a different phone call saying that you are a full-time Pennsylvania resident.”

Me: “But I’m not. I’m a student and only here temporarily.”

Insurance Agent #2: “Well, because of the notes, I’m not allowed to change your policy.”

Me: “So, I’m not a Pennsylvania resident, so I can’t register my car in Pennsylvania, but I can’t fix my insurance policy to register my car in Florida? Even though I never changed my policy to a Pennsylvania policy in the first place?”

Insurance Agent #2: “That’s correct.”

Me: “My registration expires in a week. The Pennsylvania DMVs are all closed due to the pandemic. I don’t want to drive an unregistered vehicle and potentially get in trouble. What should I do?”

Insurance Agent #2: “You should keep the records of these phone calls and go once everything is reopened. You might be able to do it all online.”

Spoiler alert: you can’t.

Me: “So, despite the fact that I’m a student and not a full-time Pennsylvania resident, I have to change my residency? And despite that I was able to renew my registration last year when I was in the exact same situation?”

Insurance Agent #2: “That’s correct.”

Me: “Well, thank you. I guess I’ll try to get that done soon.”

While this is all comically inconvenient, it isn’t the worst thing. The biggest kicker is that Florida driver’s licenses are good for eight years, and I finally had to renew mine this year. And now I’ll have to pay to have a new one issued for a new state.

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Like Banging Your Head Against The Berlin Wall

, , , | Working | June 3, 2020

It is 2009. Germany recently introduced “low-emission zones” in several major cities. In order to drive into those areas, every vehicle, even foreign-registered ones, must show a color-coded sticker — Feinstaubplakette — issued according to the vehicle’s emission standards.

As I frequently travel to Germany, I go to a RDW office — the Dutch equivalent of the DMV.

Me: “Good morning. I need a German emission class sticker for my car. Here’s my registration.”

Employee: “But sir, you don’t need that! You need it only if you drive to Germany!”

Please note the area I’m living in is just forty minutes from the German border.

Me: “Well, I’m aware of that. I guess it’s called ‘GERMAN sticker’ for that reason, right?” *Smiles*

Employee: “Yes, that’s why you don’t need it!”

Me: “I assure you that I need it. I often travel to Germany with my car.”

The employee gives me a blank look.

Me: “Okay, let me explain. On Saturday, I’ll be in Oberhausen. Next week Wednesday, I’ll be in Düsseldorf. Those cities are in Germany, and both require an emission class sticker and I don’t want to get a ticket. May I now have my sticker, please?”

The employee finally looked at my registration papers, checked on the computer, and gave me my emission class sticker, not without mumbling a couple of times, “You don’t need it here.”

Oddly enough, as The Netherlands is quite a small country bordering with Germany, many vehicles have this emission class sticker. I hope other drivers didn’t have to cope with this employee!

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