My adventure started with a phone call from my son telling me the license plate on the front of his car had disappeared. I thought the situation would warrant a simple exercise of going to the license bureau to get new plates. Turns out, this would be a lesson in the art of being smart with money.
New License Plates, Take One
I explained my situation to the license bureau desk clerk, handing her my driver’s license and the insurance card for the vehicle for which I needed new plates. The card listed the make, model and VIN number. She filled out a form, retrieved new plates, and stated the cost was $19. After paying, she handed me all the paperwork and my receipt.
I examined the paperwork as I walked out of the office, and noticed the form listed my car, not my son’s. I instantly turned around and went back into the license bureau.
New License Plates, Take Two
I was summoned to the desk by the same clerk to whom I explained the mix-up. She looked over the paperwork she had filled out, as well as my insurance card. She apologized for the mistake and pulled out a new form and began typing. This time, she slid the form towards me and asked me to verify she had the right vehicle before proceeding. After I reviewed the information, she told me the cost would again be $19. My mind raced as I handed her my debit card.
I held up the first set of plates she had given me, and asked what I was supposed to do with them. Since she had already marked my plates as lost and changed the plates in the system I had no choice but to put the new plates on my car.
I finished the second transaction leaving the license bureau with two new sets of plates, one for my vehicle, and one for my son’s car.
What had occurred didn’t sit right with me. As soon as I returned home I called the bureau and asked for a manager. After explaining what had happened, I asked to be refunded the $19 for plates I bought because of the clerk’s mistake. Our conversation went something like this:
Manager: “Did she ask for your license? We go by a person’s license because it’s just easier to find the vehicles registered to you.”
Me: “Yes, but I have four vehicles registered to my name. That’s why I provided the insurance card for the correct vehicle.”
Manager: “Does the insurance card have information only for the one vehicle.”
Manager: “The clerk should have asked you to verify the information on the form before getting new plates and entering them into the system. Did she do that?”
Me: “No. I didn’t see any of the paperwork until she had completed everything, including taking my payment. The second time she absolutely did ask me to verify the information because of the mix-up the first time.”
Manager: “Well, I wasn’t there, so I can’t say exactly how everything happened.
Silence. After a few moments it became awkward. I felt myself wanting to end the confrontation by conceding, but I held on just a few seconds longer.
Manager: “If that’s how you said it happened, I can refund your $19. Are you still in the area?”
Me: “I live nearby, I’ll be right in.”
Being smart with money is a lifestyle of consistently making sound financial decisions. It’s big things like stuffing money away for retirement, but also the small day to day decisions. It’s evaluating purchases for value and that nagging feeling in your stomach when you’re overcharged. Each individual situation won’t make or break your overall financial stability, but over time the sum total of your decisions has a significant impact.
How about you EOD Nation, do you have a recent money management story? Have you had to fight for a refund?