I received the following letter in the mail two days ago. I have to admit…it scared me. It’s from the Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois. But that isn’t what scared me. Go ahead and click on the thumbnail for a readable version…it’s short, so it won’t take you too long.
Can you see what scared me? Well, maybe I should tell you I haven’t purchased or sold a car since Dec. 1995. Twelve and a half years ago! Now do you see what sent my heart pounding? That first line:
"Your application for a vehicle title and license plates registration has been processed."
What?!?! What application for vehicle title or plates registration?!?! The letter listed my car and its VIN. I paid off the car years ago and have the title safely tucked away and I got my annual license plates stickers in December and won’t be getting them again until Dec. 2008! We’ve all heard of identify fraud, is this a new way of stealing cars out from under people…getting the title transferred to someone else?
I called the number on the letter and spoke to someone that was clearly annoyed to talk with me. She was, after all, at work and answered the phone, so how dare somebody call her! The upshot is that she was completely unhelpful! She said that a new law became effective on January 1, 2008 and certain cars had to be tested for emissions within 45 days prior to getting new title or plate stickers. I pointed out that isn’t what the letter says and how do I know something hasn’t happened to the title of my car. She claimed nothing had happened to the title of my car and to ignore the first line of the letter but the rest applied to me. I pointed out that my car was not "newly registered" as part of the rest of the letter said. Then she said:
"Well (huff), the State Department didn’t write that letter and doesn’t know who did. But it simply means you need to get the emissions tested on your car before getting new plate stickers."
WHAT!?!?! They don’t know who wrote the letter? Excuse me! It says Ernie Dannenberger wrote it! Who is he? Not from the State Department? Why is their logo at the top? And she claims this isn’t a scam? So, not really knowing what to say, I asked, "I had the emissions tested last year as I’d been sent a notice saying I had to. Will I be sent another notice?" Her response, yet another classic:
"That’s up to the Emissions Department. I don’t know what they’ll do."
The State of Illinois has an Emissions Department? That stinks! Can’t some other department handle the emissions efforts without creating a whole new department just for emissions? Boy, employees in that department better hope they never succeed at eliminating emissions because they’d all lose their jobs! Talk about negative incentives. At this point, I could tell I had an Illinois class fool on the phone and said goodbye.
Yesterday afternoon I went to a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ask some questions. I showed them the letter and they were much more helpful, but really didn’t have any answers. The receptionist had never seen the letter, but did look up my car and verify the title is in my name, but she couldn’t tell if there had been any activity on it. She agreed that there is a new law about having emissions tested at least 45 days before getting new plate stickers and verified with somebody else that a 12-year old car would be in that group. She gave me an 800 number to call and said,
"Don’t call Springfield. They’re often arrogant and clueless."
I have to agree with that.
I haven’t called the 800 number yet, but I will. I notice that the letter has no address to write back to Ernie Dannenberger, but I might try to trace one down. This is unbelievable! I must not be the only person to get the letter because the first fool knew exactly what the letter was…even though they didn’t know who had written it.
So, in addition to receiving a letter that is implies my car is being stolen, I have further proof that the government of the State of Illinois is incompetent. Does this mean I have to have my car’s emissions tested twice next year? Once on it’s regular schedule (it used to be every 3 years, but last year I got switched to every year because of its age) or will they change the regular date to later in the year to coincide with my license plate sticker renewal? I’m not worried about passing the test, my Honda runs wonderfully! Will they send me a notice about the new emissions test? The tests are currently free, but now that people will be required to do them more often, which will cost the state more money, will they start charging a fee for it or will my taxes go up? How many people are going to be turned down for titles and stickers because they didn’t know about the new law? Personally, I like my car and don’t want a new one, but the state is probably doing this to push people to do just that!
Last question, how long should Ernie Dannenberger get to keep his job after sending such an idiotic letter?
UPDATE: The state sent another letter apologizing for the first debacle. They’ve admitted the first letter was completely in error. I’d post a copy of the new letter, but I’ve put it down somewhere and can’t find it right now.