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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Drunk, Malevolent, Or Vapid?

, , , , , | Working | May 19, 2020

I recently moved to New Hampshire so I go to the DMV to apply for a new driver’s license. After filling out all the proper paperwork, making sure I have proof of residency and blood type and mother’s dog’s maiden name, and waiting in line for the typical ninety minutes, I finally get to the counter.

The woman behind the desk looks through all my papers, and everything seems to be in order, until:

Clerk: “Okay, can you just review all the info on that screen and confirm that everything is correct?”

I look at the first line.

Me: “Uh… actually, there’s a problem. My address isn’t correct.”

The clerk seems slightly offended that I’m accusing her of entering in my info wrong.

Clerk: “What’s wrong with it?”

Me: “The street number is supposed to be 25. It says 75 here.”

The clerk looks at the forms I filled out.

Clerk: “Oh. That looks like a 7 to me.”

She says this despite the fact that the other documents I had given her, including a lease agreement and an electric bill, all confirmed it should be 25.

Clerk: “Okay, so, everything else is correct?”

I look at the second line.

Me: “Uh… nope. My birthday is [date], and this says [different date].”

Clerk: “Seriously?”

The clerk sighs and then goes to correct all of the info on the computer.

Clerk: “Oh, I guess I need manager authorization to change the birth date. Hold on one second.”

A manager comes over and authorizes the birth date change and gets my temporary license printed.

Manager: “Okay, you’re all set! We just need to take your old [Other State] license away. You can’t have both at the same time.”

I have never heard of this before, but it seems to make sense, so I comply.

Manager: “Your new license will arrive within sixty days. Have a nice day!”

About a week later, I go to a local specialty store and attempt to buy alcohol. As I have not yet received my permanent license, I hand the cashier my temp license.

Cashier: “Oh, I’m so sorry, but we can’t accept temp IDs here. Can I just see your old license to confirm your age?”

Me: “Oh, I don’t have it anymore. The DMV took it away when I applied for my new one.”

Cashier: “What? That’s odd; they usually just punch a hole in it so it’s not valid on its own, but so you can still use it to confirm everything on your temp one. I’ve never heard of them taking it away!”

Me: “Yeah. Me, neither.”

I don’t get any wine that day.

After that, about a month and half goes by and I still have not received my new license. I am getting very concerned as it has never taken me this long to receive a new ID in the past, and my temp one is almost set to expire. I am worried it got sent to the wrong address, so I even try going to number 75 on my street to see if they received it by mistake, but they are never home when I go.

Finally, I give in and call the DMV.

Me: “Hi. I still haven’t received my new driver’s license, and my temporary one is going to expire in about a week and a half. I’m worried it might have been sent to the wrong address, because my address was entered incorrectly the first time.”

Support #1: “Okay, can I have your name and address?”

I give them to her.

Support #1: “All right, I see your application right here, and it looks like all your info is correct but the license just hasn’t been printed or sent yet. If it doesn’t come by [date next week], call us again and we will expedite it to you.”

Sure enough, a week goes by and still no license. I call the DMV again.

Me: “Hi. I called last week to say that my license hadn’t come in yet and was told to call back today if that was still the case and you would expedite it to me.”

Support #2: “Okay, can I have your name, please?”

I give it to her.

Support #2: “Okay… Huh, I can’t seem to find you. Is it [Different First Name]?”

Me: “Nope, [My Name].”

Support #2: “Okay, let’s try your social.”

I give her that.

Support #2: “Nope… Birth date?”

I give her that.

Support #2: “Huh. All right, what is the number on your temp license?”

I give her that.

Support #2: “Wait, your license number is [number] but your birth date is [date]? That doesn’t make sense. The number is based on your last name and birth date.”

Me: “Well, the woman who took my info at the DMV office entered my birthday incorrectly the first time…”

Support #2: “Ohh… Okay, I think I know what happened, then. Let me just look into this further.”

She puts me on hold for about fifteen minutes.

Support #2: “I just confirmed with my supervisor. There cannot be a license account with more than one birthdate. If the date is changed, our system completely erases the old application. The clerk should have reentered all of your info in a new application and retaken your picture. She basically deleted your application when she made the change.

“Here’s what I can do for you: if you can get back to the DMV this afternoon, I will tell them to let you go straight to the front of the line. Make sure you bring in all the paperwork you had last time, and we will expedite a new license to you within two business days. I am sorry for all of the inconvenience this has caused!”

This last support person was very helpful and, true to her word, I was let up to the front of the line when I got to the DMV office. However, I don’t know what bothers me more: the fact that the original clerk AND her manager made so many fumbles with handling my application and didn’t know that the mistake would completely erase all my info, or the fact that it seems the first phone support person blatantly LIED to me saying she saw that my application was in process. 

Bonus: my new license finally arrived, no less than a month later.

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White And Privileged? Get A Gold Star!

, , , , , | Working | September 22, 2019

I needed to get my license renewed. As I was waiting in the DMV, they passed out these pamphlets that detailed something called a Real ID — basically just specially-marked cards with a gold star in the corner that indicated whether the cardholder had shown the DMV agent proof of being a citizen of the States at the time of renewal, and these stars would be required for domestic air travel and entering federal buildings by 2020.

I thought to myself that it was unfortunate that I didn’t have the papers for it at the time, but I wasn’t about to lose my place in line to go get my birth certificate. When I was called up, the agent had me take a new picture and read the letters for the vision test. I remember being completely unable to see a thing; all the letters were just blurry blobs of colour. The agent told me to guess. I did, apparently, well enough; she gave me my new license without any further ado and didn’t even tell me to get glasses. (I got them of my own accord a few months later.)

About a week later, my non-paper ID card came in the mail. It had a star, marking it as a real ID. I guess I looked white enough, or sounded ditzy enough, or both, so the agent just marked it as a real ID without the required papers.

Your security is in good hands, folks.

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