Friday, December 03, 2010

A Painful and Expensive Lesson Learned

I have recently survived a minor ordeal that, while frustrating and expensive, was also time consuming. Now that I have been able to put it behind me, I thought it best to share my story so you don't make the same dumb mistakes I did.

Apparently, my old car being my first purchase, I did not really grasp the whole concept of a title. I did, but I didn't. I knew the car had one, but that my leinholder had it until the car was paid off. When I made the last payment they sent me something. Maybe a title, I don't know. I'm more inclined to say it was a lien release, not the actual title. Whatever it was didn't look official and important enough for me to take note. I was unaware I was supposed to 'do' something with it. So, basically, I immediately lost it.

No thought was given to this for five more years. When the car blew up, I considered selling it to a junk yard or a friend of DB's. When DB asked about the title, I made that Tim the Toolman sound. "Errh?" Title. Uh, don't have that. Thought you could junk a car without one. Nope. They have to make sure they aren't purchasing a stolen, stripped car.

Ok, no problem. Went on the Alabama DMV site, downloaded the replacement title form and got a money order for $15. Went in and the lady told me they didn't have my title. Why not? The car was registered in Alabama for 9 years? Certainly they had something. Turns out, they requested it from my lienholder and they never responded. Awesome.

So I went to the Nevada DMV site and called to confirm they had a copy. Hallelujah, they did. But to get it, I'd need a letter from my lienholder showing my title was now clear ($17 + 7-10 days). I'd also need a notarized letter saying I'd lost my title and needed a replacement (free with my bank, thank goodness). Mail that along with a check for $35 and I could get it in 4 to 6 weeks. I could also expedite it by express mailing the request and paying to have it express mailed back ($18 each way).

Get the letter from Ford, mail it at the post office and wait. Somehow, express took 1 day there but took 4 days back, but there's no refunds of course. They come to deliver it, DB is home and waiting, but she just leaves the 'missed you' note thinking he's asleep (we have a day sleeper tag) so I have to leave work early the next day to go claim it at the post office (since I work 7:30 to 5 and the PO is open 8:30 to 4).

Ok, so, title in hand, I march back to the DMV triumphantly. The woman says "do you have the car here?" Uh, no. It doesn't run and its stranded at the dealership. Oh, well, they can't accept an out of state title without a vehicle inspection. Ok, so is it supposed to magically levitate? No, I have to get a police officer to inspect the car and fill out the form. Once I come back with it, it will take 4 to 6 weeks. I said lots of ugly things and left in a huff.

Driving to the dealership, on the phone with the police station, I finally get an office to meet me out there. I got voicemail the first time and was certain I was doomed to not get it done that day. But I did, got the car inspected, and returned to the DMV, where I got ugly looks from the ladies when I walked in. One even went on break when I was next in line, so apparently they did not appreciate my attitude. I didn't appreciate theirs, either.

Turn in the form. They try to give me grief about needing my mother's signature since her name is on it. We have a long discussion about "or" versus "and" and that we were an "or" and therefore, did not need her permission. (Which I REALLY didn't want to get since her name had since changed and I could just imagine they'd want more forms filled out for that.) Finally, we have a breakthrough and we move forward. I write a check for $18.75 and she tells me it usually doesn't take 4 weeks, but that with the holiday it might take two or more. Ok, fine.

Glorious, glorious, the title has arrived. Now, a month and a half and $121.75 later, I can finally sell my car for a whopping $350. Hardly seems worth the effort, really. I had considered several times just setting the car on fire and being done with it. But, alas, a lesson learned. Keep up with your titles! Its important. I'd been passively car shopping for a long time. Had I known this was going to be an issue, I would've gotten the ball rolling on the title thing months ago. But no, it wasn't until the car blew up that I realized this was a problem. You don't want to try and get those things replaced at the last minute. There is no last minute, only 4-6 weeks later.

Any lessons learned lately that you'd like to share? Spread your wealth of knowledge and save us all a couple trips to the DMV.



Playground Monitor said...

When I moved last year I went to the DMV to have the address changed on my driver's license. I was told I didn't have to get a new license if I didn't want to. All I had to do was fill out a form and mail it to Montgomery where they'd change my address in the system. New license = $20+ and it wouldn't extend the expiration date. Mail in form = 44 cents. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. I still had to go to the DMV but the cost difference was considerable.

Had to get the title changed on my car too. Couldn't find it and it seems the credit union had it because the ex had used it as collateral on his truck. So he had to free it up so I could get it in my name. It's safely locked away.

I'm of the opinion that some of the DMV employees need a class in good customer service and etiquette -- except maybe the one who saved me almost $20.

Angel said...

And if you have to go to the courthouse, they are MUCH worse there. I love the little place they opened near us -- usually friendly and full of information -- as long as something doesn't go wrong.

Which reminds me, I wonder where my title is?


Problem Child said...

Now I must wonder where my title is... hmmm.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

My first DMV experience in Alabama was exceedingly pleasant. But it was in Decatur when we first moved here, and I swear it was like going to Mayberry RFD. The county commissioner comes out and talks to everyone in line. She offers coffee or a snack. The clerks at the desks are smiling and happy and say how much they love, love, love working for her. Everyone is happy and chatty, and though the paperwork takes forever, they are so pleasant. I wish I could go back there but we're in a different county now, sigh.

I've been to the DMV in Madison county a couple of times for other stuff. Not nearly as fun, but no hassles either. And I do know where the titles are, thankfully. Whew.

Maven Linda said...

Our car titles are in our safe deposit box. No exceptions. When they come in, they go in the box.

Our DMV people are pretty good, though. They've always been nice and helpful.

Stephanie Jones said...

My DMV experiences have have been more Mayberry RFD than Mean Girls. I haven't been to renew my license since I moved but I will be doing that this month so I may have a better story to tell after that!