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The DMV Saga: An Update

DC-Flag Now that I've almost unpacked all of my boxes here in my new place, I thought my many both of my readers might be anxious for an update on my dealings with the DC DMV. 

You remember, right? WHAT - you've forgotten?

Well then, allow me to refresh your memory. Wait - go - pour yourself a glass of wine, then come back and get comfy. It's a long story.

It all started when I was a baby in 2001. Soup Husband Curt had a Very Important Function to attend for work and, in his haste, parked illegally in DC and got a love note under his windshield wiper.  No big deal. He forgot to pay it, and they sent us a Friendly Reminder. We then paid the ticket, mailing a check to DC for $45, which represented the parking ticket plus a late fee.  The DC Treasurer cashed our check.

For anyone else, that would have been the end of the story. But not for us! Because we did not include the citation number on the check - even though the citation remittance slip had the number on it - DC has been unable to match up our check to the citation. We have spent the past eight years corresponding with our Good Bureaucratic Friends in the District, asserting each time that YES, we have paid the ticket. And even though it's only $45, at this point, I'm protesting for sport because I need a hobby on principle.

I have a stack of letters and a copy of the canceled check, along with copious notes about phone calls from the various collection agencies DC has used over the years. Last April, I decided to share the fun by blogging a letter I sent in response to their latest erroneous plea for cash. Months passed and I figured I had finally succeeded in making them see it my way!

Alas, this summer, our home phone began to ring incessantly from some outfit I finally figured out was hounding me to pay this ticket. I explained to the agent that I had already paid it, in 2001. She gave me an address to write to - the same address as before. Then I wrote this letter on September 12, 2009, and copied the Mayor Himself, plus the CFO of the District, along with the Director of the DMV. Because, I mean, if you were the head of an agency, wouldn't you want to know that the collection company you pay millions of dollars to is trying to collect a debt that's already been paid? If you were the CFO, wouldn't you want to know why your budget has been out of balance by exactly $45 for the past eight years? If you were the mayor, wouldn't you want to keep this kind of idocy from getting blown way out of proportion?

Yeah. Me, too.

Whereas before, it was months and years between letters, things seem to be moving a little faster now. For one thing, the calls stopped, so that was good. Then, I got this letter on September 20 from none other than the director of the DMV herself, stating what their records show, and inviting me to send a copy of the canceled check to prove my case. So, I did - along with this letter back to her. Again, cc'ing the Mayor Himself and the CFO. (I didn't want them to wonder what happened!)  

Then, on October 2, I got this letter, in response to my copy to the Mayor Himself, stating they'd forwarded my issue to the DMV (picture a dog chasing its tail) for review. BUT HERE'S THE GOOD PART: They assigned me a Tracking Number, and invited me to telephone them if I had not heard anything on this issue within 30 days!

Accountability: It's the new irresponsibility.

So today, I called, and guess what? I spoke to a very nice lady named Mrs. Small. I explained how I had a tracking number and that it had been more than 30 days, and she politely asked if she might place me on hold to find out the status. After a moment, she came back and said that my issue had indeed been forwarded to the mail adjudication group and is in the queue for a hearing examiner to review. She couldn't really say how long it would take for them to get through their "backlog", but she did offer to contact the adjudication office and then call me back to let me know!

And you know what happened then? Mrs. Small DID call me back! She confirmed that they do have my issue in the queue, and that it could be a while longer, maybe to the end of next week. So, I promised to watch my mailbox and call back if I didn't hear anything.

Now, I don't know if you've ever dealt with a bureaucracy like the District of Columbia's DMV. Everyone in DC has their story of Fresh Hell served up during attempts to navigate this target of endless jokes of an agency. But I must say, I am blown away that this woman actually called me back, just like she promised she would! It could be she was feeding me a line, but she seemed sincere, and you know what? I totally appreciate that she returned my call. And whether or not my eight-year issue gets straightened out this one last time, or I end up having to keep fighting it (and I will if I need to), Mrs. Small restored a tiny bit of my faith in the government today, just by doing what she promised she'd do, and doing it with a cheerful attitude.

Cheerfulness: It's the new surly.

As always, stay tuned for all the latest updates.