Friday, March 31, 2017

The long and winding road to car registration

This post is being written purely for my own catharsis and for when the day comes that I can laugh at the sheer lunacy that has ensued over the last three months filled with nearly 10 DMV visits. Thus, it's unlikely anyone will enjoy reading this. Someone beer me.

So, good news first-we can drive again! After 10 weeks (10 weeks!!!).

Back in November, I received notification from California DMV that because our car was no longer insured in California, registration would be terminated on January 17. It was a face palm moment, because I had not intended on registering our car in DC, but oh yeah, duh, I wasn't paying insurance in CA anymore, but rather in DC, and the government/insurance agencies like those to match. I'm chalking that snafoo up to moving 3,000 miles and being 16 months pregnant/postpartum. The devil's in the details!

At this point we are forced to register the car in DC, which means we must get DC driver's licenses. That in itself was an experience with multiple trips to the DMV-some failed attempts on me (bringing my birth certificate to confirm identity...not helpful when the last names don't match) and on them (ridiculous closure dates.) (DMV Trips #1 + #2)

After obtaining my license (DMV Trip #3), I was told the permanent one would arrive in the mail in about 10 days. I began waiting, and after about three weeks, finally called asking what happened. Apparently it was denied by the post office, so I should call them and ask why. Oh, and the temporary one was set to expire while we were in California so I needed to go BACK to the DMV to get a new temporary one because otherwise, I'd have to repeat the process with all of the documents again. Lose-lose if you ask me, because it was a trip there either way. Ugh. Good news is, I called the post office and there was no problem with our address so I'd like to have words with whomever deemed it 'undeliverable'. So, off we went (DMV Trip #4) for the second temporary license. Thankfully, the second permanent one arrived as it should have.

Three days into January, Scott made the first request to Chase to initiate obtaining the title information. We were told this would take 21 days and the information would be sent to the DC DMV. We'd also get a copy of the information overnighted. Two days later, via Fed Ex, I kid you not, I received very official documents of our title information complete with the words "print screen" on them. The DC DMV had made it abundantly clear that they need originals, so Chase paid a stupid amount of money for something I could have printed from my own inkjet. Yet, the 21 day clock began ticking.

While waiting for the title info to be sent, I went and got the car inspected/smog tested (DMV Trip #5).

I patiently wait (or not, I complain to anyone who has ears) the 21 days and start making calls after an extra few courtesy days and get the best news ever. Someone at Chase has cancelled our request, because they thought the printed, Fed Exed documents were all we needed. Heads needed to roll there. I calmly explained that this was in fact NOT the case and that the DMV needs original documentation (also thinking, surely they do this all the time! And have sent the info all of over the country! The DMVs can't all be that different!) So, of course, it will be another 21 days. Did I mention these are business days? This person also reconfirms I'll get a copy that it's been sent in the mail. New target date is early March. Also, I've realized this is the only time holidays suck because it makes me wait longer thanks to the two Presidential holidays in February. They advise me to call back on March 7 and the nice lady has said she'll try to expedite this request. What's particularly strange to me is that the information is sent via snail mail directly to the DMV. This seems like such an opportunity for error.

March 7, 9 a.m., I call Chase. I can already tell the person who answered is not going to continue the helpful service from my last call. He tells me the estimated completion date is March 30. WTF?!?!?! This was the straw that broke this camel's back. Now, I've never yelled or been aggressive on the phone, but this guy was basically useless and I told him how ridiculous this saga has been and that I've not been able to drive my car for almost two months and while there were miscommunications on their end along the way, I've been promised a much earlier date than March 30. I naturally tend to be much too passive in these situations and perhaps the East Coast has done me some good in that I am standing up more. Thankfully he put me on hold while he researched and said that it had in fact been sent at 11:30 p.m. the night before and the March 30 date was wrong. (Ya think?!?!) I still had to wait for the documents to arrive coming from Ohio to DC, and would need to call the DMV to confirm receipt.

I gave the USPS a good week before calling the DC DMV to check for receipt. Thankfully, they had received them the same day I called, and I decided that day was the day to go down and call this turkey DONE (DMV trip #6). One good thing about the DC DMV is that they have cameras and wait time estimations so you can see if it's a good time to go down. The office claimed it would be about a 25 minute wait time, which was doable for me hauling the kids down there. (They do not offer appointments for this kind of service.)

When we arrived, I got my number-A34, and took a seat to settle in. Half an hour, 45 minutes go by and I start snooping around at other people. A21 is called. I can see the guy sitting next to me is A25 and ask how long he's been here-2+ hours-and he estimates it will be another hour before he's called. Ok, well I am not hanging out for probably four hours with two kids at the DMV-ridiculous! So we leave, feeling deflated and defeated.

I decided that going early when they open was going to be the best plan-hopefully put in the wait time on the front end and have some control over the situation. So, this past Wednesday, when the weather looked favorable (knowing we'd be hanging around outside) we headed out with Scott to work, rode the Metro together, and the kids and I took our place in line at 8:30, when the offie opened at 9:15 (DMV Trip #7). We were about 25th in line, and while it was cold and breezy, they did great. When we were finally able to move inside, I got my number A4, and we only waited about 30 minutes and make a frantic phone call to Scott to supply one random piece of (rather unnecessary and frankly unofficial documentation). I left with the best piece of metal I've held in a long, long, time.

And that afternoon, we celebrated with a trip to Whole Foods for a cookie and fine craft beer. And groceries.

And for anyone keeping track, I visited the following DC DMVs:

#1, #2, #3: Georgetown
#4: Benning Ridge
#5, #6, #7: Southwest Service Center

Moral of the story? Start early, stay on top of your bank-especially if it's Chase, be prepared to practice Buddha-like patience, and drink heavily if necessary. ;)

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