Washington State Department Of Licensing Reviews
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Helpless in Seattle
Helpless in Seattle When Governor Gregoire named Alan Haight as new director of the Washington State Department of Licensing this year, many residents were pleased. Perhaps no one could be more pleased than George E. Nervik who filed suit against the DOL for failing to provide public disclosure records as mandated by law. It would seem that the former director, Elizabeth Luce, did not perform her duty as a public servant in a competent manner. So, when we visited the DOL website to obtain complete vehicle registration / title fee and tax information for a new 2011 passenger vehicle, we naturally assumed that a "house cleaning" of the DOL directorship would make our job easier. However, we found the DOL website to be tailored to vehicle registration renewal and not new car purchase. Accordingly, we phoned the DOL customer service department to obtain answers to our questions. In fact, we placed several of those long distance phone calls because no one agent agreed upon a common answer for the same question. In effect, there was no consensus! Troubled by their apparent lack of knowledge, we sent an email to Director Haight outlining our frustration and requesting a timely response to our time-sensitive inquiry. There was no reply! Then, after submitting several follow-up messages to the director, an administrative assistant responded with a promise date by which our questions would be answered. When that date came, we still had no answers to our questions. It started to occur to us that our trouble with the DOL in their failure to comply was very similar to what George E, Nervik had experienced. It seems that the new director made absolutely no difference to the shortcomings of this Washington State agency. Consequently, we sent messages to Governor Gregoire, Attorney General McKenna, Senator Cantwell, and Senator Murray in which we advised them of our grievance of the appalling lack of commitment by the DOL. We reminded them of the duty that every agency in the State of Washington has to respond promptly to public disclosure requests as mandated by law. We asked them for their stewardship and intervention to assist us with our simple and non-confidential public disclosure request. Although we received no reply from any of these elected public servants, we thought our message had a positive effect since we did receive a response from the DOL shortly thereafter. However, the response only answered a selected portion of our questions. The remaining responses were either vague, not applicable or unintelligible. We were absolutely devastated! Nearly four weeks have elapsed since we sent our original inquiry to the DOL director and are now faced with the same scenario we encountered from the start. Namely, failure to comply, lack of appropriate response and/or incompetence. Our purpose in obtaining new 2011 passenger vehicle fee and tax information from the DOL is vital to the purchasing process. New car dealerships will routinely "estimate" these costs and enter a dollar figure on the contract that is excessive and, therefore, unlawful. The only recourse that the consumer has in this situation is to petition the DOL for a record of the fees and taxes paid by the dealer. How do you petition this same state agency for a public record when they cannot provide you with simple public disclosure information? Then, the consumer must petition the car dealership for a refund of money that was paid in excess of what the law permits! While we cannot prove it, we suspect the Department of Licensing may have a sinister reason for not cooperating with us and not disclosing those fees and taxes to us. Specifically, a sharing of revenue with the car dealerships in excess of what the law prescribes at a time when budget cuts and recession has depleted state revenue resources. We have nearly exhausted all our time, patience and alternatives as to what can be done to compel the DOL to comply before our window of opportunity for buying a 2011 model car has disappeared. We plead to our readers for constructive comments or a solution to our predicament as we feel HELPLESS IN SEATTLE! Mark and Marcia G. markg_marciag@***.com
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