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Adventures with Vermont DMV

About a year ago, I bought a used Hyundai (“rhymes with SUNDAY”) Elantra. I chose to get new plates instead of transferring the old ones from the car I was getting rid of (or, if you prefer, “…of which I was ridding myself”).

A couple of weeks later, I received letter from DMV, saying a clerical error had resulted in my plate number having been recorded as issued to two different vehicles. I promptly confirmed that I had it and mailed the letter back. The other guy is supposed to have received the same letter.

Fast forward to last week.

I had received a renewal, as I should, for our Kia Sedona that was due for renewal, so I went on line to do that. In my record, the Elantra was flagged as not eligible to renew on line, and that I should call DMV about it.

The confirmation of who had the plates was never processed. Postal Service? DMV? Not a clue. The problem is that my current registration expires “Last day of March, 2014.” I never received a renewal notice, because DMV still didn’t know who had the plates. It’s been a YEAR! You don’t follow up?

No, I cannot renew it with a credit card over the phone or on line. I have to download a registration renewal and either mail it or bring it in person.

Rather than wait for the mail, I went to DMV’s mobile office the day before yesterday (they’re here once a week). I left with my renewed registration, believing it was all straightened out.

This car has to be inspected by Monday; I had an appointment for this afternoon. As I am gathering what I need, I looked closely at the new registration to learn that it, too, expires “Last day of March, 2014,” just like the one in the glove compartment.

Fortunately, I can have the car inspected using the current still-valid registration, but DAMN, DMV, where the hell are your heads?

I told this story to the guy who did my inspection. He was stopped yesterday, because DMV had recorded his green pickup truck as brown.

I just went through a similar kind of adventure in my state. The vehicle that I bought and tagged last year suddenly showed up on the state computers with a “flag.” My usual card that I receive in the mail for simple registration came back with my money order. I went to the county clerk’s office and was told that there was a problem with the original sale of my truck.

On further investigation…I learned that the man who originally owned the truck was dead and that his heirs had brought suit. A quick thinking clerk phoned the “dead man” and learned that he was still alive. A quick check of his driver’s license info on the computer confirmed that information.

It turned out that the man’s ex-wife had him declared dead for some sort of insurance scam. A warrant is out for her arrest on charges of attempted fraud. I guess she was the one that had her kids file the lawsuit and they may be in trouble as well. In the mean time…my truck is still mine for now.

Driving a dead man’s truck. That whole story sounds like a country-western song. Just work in the dog and the booze and you’re done.

My BMV chuckle was hearing a couple of clerks chatting with each other on how “her son just got his car back and was T-boned by someone with Party Plates”, then catching herself, looking at me and saying that “we’re not supposed to call them that” (“Party Plates” are the slang term for the brightly colored license plate that DUI offenders have to have in my state)

DMV around here is pretty slow but usually correct,it always helps to be nice and make friends with the Clerks if you are face to face and some offices work better then others,my Daughter chatted a Lady Clerk up and told Her how nice Her hair was-amazing how fast Her fingers flew over the keyboard during the long drawn out reinstatement process(with a smile on Her face),Public Servants come in three flavors,the good,the bad,the indifferent and you can bet most of them would sooner be somewhere else-Kevin

I agree that some DMV locations are far better than others.
In NJ, they range from absolutely hostile environments to relatively pleasant places to visit.

Many years ago, I happened to mention to the service manager at the dealership that I was dreading going to the DMV for an upcoming license renewal. She (yes, the service mgr at that time was a young woman) advised me to drive just a bit further to a DMV facility that was far better to deal with than others. Sure enough, a 30 minute drive brought me to this very rural DMV office where the staff was–I almost hesitate to say it-- both friendly and efficient!

Nowadays, with the advent of online functions for most of my MV-related needs, I don’t have the need to go to the DMV very often, but when I accompanied a friend to that same rural DMV office last year, I found they are still very efficient, albeit without their old down-to-earth, friendly nature.

It seems that once they moved from their old location (in the back of a run-down strip mall) to a new, larger, and more modern facility, their previous friendliness disappeared. However, I don’t need friends at the DMV. I only want efficiency, and they still have that quality.

Don’t know how applicable it is, but both state wide and locally, there have been a significant number of cut backs through attrition that now one person is expected to do the job of five in our state. Theoretically with computer aid that’s entirely possible. Theory and reality just don’t always agree.

Agree @kmccune…So, when you get into situations like this, calling directly and getting a talking person, not from India, on the line with a real name, helps the most; the earlier the better. Or in your case, just call Bernie Sanders. He may be responsible for “everything”,

Oblivion, I love the idea of “party plates”. I commend your legislators.

@MarkM, gotta have a broken heart, too.


“Public Servants come in three flavors,the good,the bad,the indifferent and you can bet most of them would sooner be somewhere else”

I’m a public servant. I’d like to think I’m a good worker.

I get well compensated for my hard work.
I get good benefits.
I get holidays you’ve probably never heard of.
I’m going to get a real pension when I retire.
I’ve also got a 457k, which is similar to a 401k.

I’d rather NOT be somewhere else. Most of my coworkers are well aware of the fact they’ve landed a good gig, and they’re not about to jeopardize it.

I will take it step further and say, everyone can be put into some catagory as Kevin listed and on different days. Getting good or poor service from anyone, is sometimes about timing. Everyone has heard about not buying cars built on Fridays; not that I believe it, but the same could be said for any job done for you.
I don’t know if you would classify any public worker as bad, good or indifferent but all have their benefits it’s they all took commitment to train for. Could a public worker make a mistake because it was “a bad day”. ? Sure, just like the guy who changed my transmission fluid and failed to replace the old with a new gasket causing it to leak had a bad day. People are people. I just hope the fireman or cop coming to save me or my house does want to be somewhere else.


I certainly have had bad days. Everybody has.

But I think it’s not fair to put all public workers in the same boat

Some of my coworkers are rotten to the core . . . dishonest, lazy, incompetent

Some of my coworkers are extremely hard working and brilliant

I’ll rant a little more . . .

There are written tests for my position, and for all the other positions, as well

The tests are not easy. I got a pretty good score . . . and got hired . . . because I studied my [butt] off. Of course, I already had some experience under my belt at the time. These positions are coveted, and hundreds of guys usually show up. During the exam, I looked around, and I saw more than a few frustrated faces. I presume they were frustrated because the exam was giving them problems. I actually finished fairly quickly, because I was well prepared.

To be fair, I didn’t get the job the first few tries. One time I barely passed the exam and they never called me in for an interview. Fair is fair. Another time, I studied all the wrong things, and I didn’t even pass. That particular time, there were tons of non-automotive questions on the exam, and many people didn’t fare very well. I was not alone. The next time, I studied my [butt] off even more than I had in the past, and I even bought a study guide specifically geared towards civil service exams. It not only had automotive questions, but all the other BS stuff as well. It had a green cover page, with yellow lettering. Some of you guys will know what I’m talking about.

There are some people out there that says any fool could get a civil service job. If they feel that way, they should shut up and prove it.

When I was at the dealer, I had been telling my coworkers for years that I want to be a civil service mechanic. They all laughed. They said I’ll never get the job. And they also said “Why would you want to work on that stuff anyways?” I took the ribbing and continued to study, all those years.
It finally paid off. I passed the written exam and did okay in the interview. I passed the medical exam, was cleared to start work, and had a start date. I told my coworkers at the dealership that I was leaving. They stopped laughing and said “How did you get that job? Did somebody get you that job?” I said “While you guys were laughing, I was studying. It finally paid off.”

So yeah, I truly value where I’m at now, and would rather not be anywhere else.

"I’ll rant a little more"
This is certainly the place to do it. We all get better informed with you’re and other’s experience.

The only non public employee jobs I have had were working in retail and in mills during college and after I retired working for my neighbor as a contractor. Yes, we did get grief for some of the benefits but I didn’t hear any complaining when I was there at two in the morning helping people when I was a cop or driving an ambulance in the military.

Like You said, it takes a commitment to get these jobs in the testing you took and the hours and conditions we both work. Actually, 90% of the public employees I have ever come in contact with have viewed themselves as service providers and always tried to do the right thing. I don’t want to sound political but, there are services that people need that if done on a for profit basis instead of public funded, would make life for them unbearable. I am proud of the services I provided in public service as much so as a job well done as a hired hand as a contractor. Quality work depends upon good people…they are everywhere.
Keep up the good work !

Never had any problem in Minnesota but I always go down in person and never over the net or mail. We have deputy registrars all over the state so never had to wait more than 5 minutes.

To follow on from what @db4690‌ said: I know a lot a civil servants, and all of them are happy to have their jobs. Most of them are fully capable of getting another job if they want it, but keep the government job they have because it suits the life they want to live. My parents were both federal workers. They worked hard every day, didn’t cut corners, and were proud to do they jobs they had.

Sorry you are having this trouble OP. I feel for you. I had a problem with the DMV here in Calif a couple years ago. Since misery loves company, maybe this story will help.

The Calif legislature “forgot” to pass the budget in time, so the DMV didn’t know what the fees would be to register the cars. The budget due date for the legislature was June 30, and my car was due for renewal July 6. Since the state legislature was late, the DMV was late, and I didn’t get my renewal notice until July 15! I paid as soon as I got the bill. But the DMV assessed me a fine for paying late. I refused to pay the fine, so they wouldn’t register the car and send me the decals. I had to park it in my driveway for 3 months. Every few days I’d phone them up and explain I couldn’t pay by the due date b/c I didn’t get the bill until after the due date. They’d say, “sorry, this is our policy, tough luck, if you want your decals, mail us the fine”. And the fine was getting bigger each month it was late. There was no way I was going to pay a fine when the delay wasn’t my fault.

I finally resolved this stand-off by phoning up the state legislator who represents my voting district. At first his office refused to help, but then I pointed out some newspaper articles were being published about how the legislature – by missing their budget deadline – was hurting people who’d due dates were in July trying to register their cars. Since they need votes to get re-elected, this negatively publicity was on my side. After some run-around, eventually the DMV sent me my registration decals with no explanation. I can’t say I won this battle, b/c I couldn’t use my car for 3 months there. But at least I didn’t pay the fine.

I have to give the motor vehicle tag and license agents around here in OK a thumbs up; especially the one I usually go through. Drivers license, vehicle title change, or car registrations; it’s usually 5 minutes, 10 tops if they’re busy.

Back up the clock 20 or so years and even when no customer was in the office there was usually a 30 minute wait for the simplest of things.
Ask for an out of state registration, lost title, or whatever and it was nothing but a litany of you can’t do that, sorry, go away, not allowed.

A custom bike build I did once of an antique Harley had me bouncing up and down in the seat and half yelling at the sheer ignorance of the people behind the counter. They would insist on a frame VIN number and could not comprehend that old Harleys never had numbers to begin with prior to 1969. What part of not ever born with is not being understood…
Call any HD dealer on the planet and ask; which they did. The dealer verified it and the DMV agent? STILL wanted a frame number.

I stomped out when they insisted that I grind the legal VIN off of the engine cases.
That not only turns legal engine cases into scrap metal but also gets them impounded as stolen goods by the first cop to eyeball them.

@GeorgeSanJose: I probably would have paid and then fought it—at least you could use your car then. Or pay with a credit card and then dispute the charge.

The trouble with Bureaucrats-Kevin

“The trouble with Bureaucrats-Kevin”

Just like lawyers though. You never appreciate them until you really need them.