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Navigating the Ohio Bureaucracy of Motor Vehicles

In Business, Economy, Education, Local News, Opinion, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on July 24, 2013 at 9:14 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

???????????????????????Before I launch into the meat of this week’s column, it is important to point out that the majority of people I’ve encountered at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles have been kind, courteous and helpful, and often apologizing profusely for the inconsistency of their employer’s policies. Most spend whatever time is necessary to help you sort out problems and do their best to make your visit more pleasant. But, as they say, one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.

With the possible exception of going to the dentist or some invasive medical procedure, nothing is more agonizing than the thought of standing in line at the BMV. Trapped like cattle to slaughter in a snaking rope line, people wait anxiously; subdued by a system that takes in an unbelievable amount of money and possesses a level of control surpassed only by the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the Ohio BMV website, in 2012 the agency collected nearly $40 million from driver license reinstatement fees alone. At the same time, it processed more than 14 million vehicle registrations. No revenue figure was available on those services but at roughly $50 a shot, that number has to be dizzying. One would think with that much money coming in someone could spring for a customer service lesson.

Recently I went to the BMV to renew the registration for one of my father’s vehicles. Having repeated this procedure for several years in a row, I had all of the previously accepted documentation and waited patiently for over an hour. Once at the counter, I was told my power of attorney form, issued by the BMV authorizing me to make the transaction in my dad’s absence, was unacceptable.

“That one’s for the title office,” they spouted with fervent authority, like proud kings of their particular hill. The document in question has no markings specifying such information but instead contains wording that suggests it can be used for any and all BMV transactions as a legal POA. In addition, that same document had been accepted by that same branch for the previous two years for the same transaction, on the same vehicle.

When I attempted to explain these facts, I was quickly interrupted by one clerk who felt it necessary to demonstrate his dime store knowledge of the law as he described how a durable power of attorney should be configured. Really? Perhaps Mr. Matlock is in the wrong line of work.

As it turned out, the “acceptable” document is not even a POA and requires no notarization. With no official confirmation of the proper owner’s signature, I could simply have gone out into the hallway, signed my father’s name and brought it back in. Good to know that the BMV is on top of helping keep your identity secure. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Since I teach people how to handle business situations and deal with customers in a more fruitful manner, even when the customer is wrong (which seems an inevitable constant at the BMV) I offer this advice to clerks in similar situations. Since the document I possessed was a legal power of attorney for the vehicle in question, accept it as such.

Instead of showing me how powerful and rigid you are, ask that I fill out the new form in your presence and sign for the vehicle owner based on the permission granted by the notarized POA. Then say something like, “We can do this now, but here’s the new form you need for next time.” That’s all it would have taken to solve the problem.

To those of you about to make the painful trek to the BMV, knowledge is power so do your homework! The Ohio BMV website – www.bmv.ohio.gov – contains all the documents and information you need to be better prepared. Being a little pro-active can make your day easier when dealing with an unknowledgeable, control-freak teller, and demonstrates your understanding for those clerks who are doing their best to help you navigate an imperfect system.

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