7 On Your Side

7 On Your Side helps woman get refund from DMV

Monday, January 14, 2013

Anyone who owns a car knows it's expensive to register a vehicle in California so the last thing you want to do is pay too much. So when the DMV forced one Bay Area woman to pay nearly twice what she owed, she turned to 7 On Your Side for help.

We pay lots of fees for our cars here in California. Among them is the vehicle license fee, based on the price you pay for your car -- the higher the price, the higher the fee. A San Francisco woman noticed the DMV recorded the wrong price for her car and she had to pay hundreds of dollars extra.

Katie Collins of San Francisco used to pay just $25 a year to register her BMW in Oregon. When she moved to California she knew she would have to pay more, but 26 times more?

"I went to register my vehicle and noticed the fee was quite high," said Collins.

Collins was stunned when the Department of Motor Vehicles charged her $654 to register the car. That seemed awfully high, even for California.

"Immediately, I went on the DMV website to double check the number, since I'm an accountant," said Collins.

She used the DMV calculator, which lets motorists figure out how much they owe. It showed the fees should be just $361, not over $650. So, she contacted the DMV.

"They told me I would have to fill out a special form which was two pages," said Collins.

Collins sent in the forms and wrote a letter. She also paid the higher fee to register the car while the agency investigated. However months passed and she says the DMV never responded.

"So much time went by that a second year came around and I received a vehicle registration fee again," said Collins.

One year later, she had to re-register the car and once again she says the DMV charged her too much. She figured she owed $225 for year-two, but the DMV billed her $370.

"So I went back and forth with the DMV multiple times, providing multiple information, still got no answer or no refund," said Collins.

Finally she contacted 7 On Your Side and we looked into the case. Turns out the DMV based her fee on a purchase price of $61,399.99 for the car. Actually Collins had bought the car for $29,999. So we contacted the DMV which investigated, upon our request, and it agreed. She paid too much.

The agency sent her this check for $291 and promised another $145 refund for year two.

The DMV said: "Ms. Collins' vehicle was incorrectly categorized when her original application was processed which resulted in higher vehicle license fees. DMV apologizes for this error and the problems it created."

"The biggest help was just seeing the check in the mail. I'm very excited, very excited," said Collins.

Our story got action at the DMV. This case will become part of its employee training to ensure it doesn't happen again. To find out how much your registration fees should be, check out the DMV calculator.

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DMV, 7 on your side, michael finney
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