Pen pals for eight years: DC DMV and me

dc_flagMy friends in the DC DMV are reaching out to me again, asking me to pay that fine we paid waaay back in 2001! I thought they had finally fixed their records.  I was wrong. The following letter is hitting the mailboxes – and cyberspace – today:


 September 12, 2009

Professional Account Management
c/o DC Treasurer
PO Box 37038
Washington, DC 20013-7038

RE: Citation 543536103, 9/7/01

To Whom It May Concern:

I received a call from Bridget at Professional Account Management on Friday, September 4, 2009, asking me if I wanted to pay the balance due on my outstanding citation (referenced above). Bridget’s call was a surprise to me, because my last contact with Professional Account Management was in April 2008. I was hopeful that my last letter finally resulted in DC correcting its accounting records.

I am not writing to appeal this citation, but to provide proof – once again – that we paid the DC Treasurer $45 to satisfy this citation and the penalty for late payment – in October, 2001.

Bridget stated that we are still being asked to pay this citation because we did not write the citation number on the check.  And she’s right; we didn’t. However, this omission did not stop the DC Treasurer from promptly cashing our check #580. One would think that during a routine reconciling of records, this random $45 deposit from us could have been easily credited to the only outstanding citation in our name.

However, apparently your recordkeeping systems (or staff) were not able to make this obvious connection. In fact, some of your previous invoices indicate that we paid $15 towards this fine, confusing matters even further. I have spent the past eight years trying to demonstrate to you that, if you simply match up my $45 deposit with this citation, you can cross this little nagging amount off your follow-up list and – even better – balance the District of Columbia’s budget, which, I fear, may have been out of whack by exactly $45 since 2001!

I should not be held accountable for this error. I paid. You took my money. Your staff failed to properly credit my payment to the one outstanding citation to my name. Your mistake; not mine. Best of all – it’s easily rectified.

If you would kindly review the enclosed correspondence – along with the copy of the check deposited by the DC Treasurer – and update your records to show that Citation 543536103 is paid in full, I would be most appreciative. It’s that simple.

In an odd way, your pluck and determination to balance your records is admirable (albeit misguided) .  Even though you are in the wrong, I must say your steadfastness over all these years has been impressive.  So impressive, in fact, that I would strongly advocate that your diligent folks in Professional Account Management should be given more authority to more carefully watch over all the District’s finances.  Their zealous oversight might, for example, have saved the District’s taxpayers millions of dollars, avoiding that embarassing $50 million shortfall that Harriette Walters and her cronies so cleverly orchestrated.  That is but one example (one of many I am sure) where this sort of effort might be better applied.  And, best of all, in that case, you’d even be right!

If you are unable rectify your error, which is amply supported by my attached evidence, then I would suggest that the DC Treasurer actually owes me the $45 that they were unable to match to any pending debt in my name. After all, you did take my money.

Once I receive my refund, I will happily re-send it to you so that you may have another chance to note in your system that Citation 543536103 is, in fact, PAID, and has been for almost eight years.  If not, I am afraid I may have to turn your records over to a collection agency and insist on proper restitution.  And we all know what a pain those pesky calls can be!

So, for the 8th consecutive year, may I kindly suggest that you focus your efforts on collecting fines that have not, in fact, already been paid.  I promise to keep writing you until you finally correct your error.

Cc (w/o attachments):

Adrian Fenty, Mayor, District of Columbia
Natwar M. Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer, District of Columbia
Lucinda M. Babers, Director, DC Department Of Motor Vehicles

(…oh yes, I most certainly did copy them!)

Time to move? Need extra storage? Like giveaways? Try BoxCart!

Last week I got an email from BoxCart, asking if I would please vote for them in the “Best of Northern Virginia.” Vice President Amy Stowell wrote:

We need your help!  Northern Virginia Magazine is compiling their 2nd annual “Best of Northern Virginia 2009” list, and we at BoxCart would very much appreciate your vote for Best Moving Company.
It’s super easy…click on the link below, scroll all the way to the bottom, and the Moving Company category is the very last entry.
We have thoroughly enjoyed working with you, and we hope that we have earned your trust and your endorsement!

I told Amy that not only would I happily vote for BoxCart, but I would also be willing to post my personal endorsement right here on my blog so that you, my readers, could read it.

You see, we called BoxCart when we were getting ready to list our house for sale before we embarked on our ill-fated move to Pennsylvania in 2006. I wanted to have some modular storage units brought to our property so we could empty our house of all the extra STUFF that was causing our realtor to scold us. Prospective buyers do not like clutter, he insisted.

I did some comparison shopping and chose BoxCart mainly for their competitive pricing.  The  delivery truck arrived on time, and the friendly driver placed the nice, clean units exactly where we wanted them, ensuring they were level and secure. We were easily able to extend our rental time period, and found BoxCart’s customer service to be without equal. But don’t just take my word for it – check out these customer testimonials, too.

While we kept the units on our property, for a few months, we could have had BoxCart transport and keep them at their storage facility in Sterling, VA, and even move them to our new destination.  While we did not expect to need those services, it was nice to know the option was there if we did.

Thus, I had no qualms at all voting for them for the “Best of…” list!

So then, I asked Amy if BoxCart would consider providing a giveaway for a reader contest and she said yes!  How cool is that?

Okay, Washington DC-Area readers, if you happen to be considering a move in the near future, or know someone who is, check this out:

One lucky person can win $150 of free packing supplies if you book a move with BoxCart! 

*Minimum labor charges of $500 to receive free packing supplies
*Move must originate in Washington DC Metro Area (see for DC Metro boundaries)
*Move must be booked by April 30th, 2009

All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post no later than Friday, February 20, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.   I will throw the name of each commenter into a hat, from which I will randomly choose one winner.  But wait – there’s more! If you post a link to this post on your own blog, I’ll throw in one extra chance for you to win. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezie! Just leave me a comment here if you do that so I know to check.

And if you’d still like to comment but have no interest in being entered in the drawing, just note that in your comment.

Thanks again, BoxCart! You guys rock.

Mailbag Sunday

Welcome to the first edition of S.I.N.A.F.F. mailbag. Our staff receives so many letters(1) that, regrettably, we can’t respond to them all. We do appreciate your feedback, though!

Last week, we received a letter from Lee Anne(2), of North Carolina, who writes:

I liked your post about the inner perfect Mom, but there was a part of it that rang so true for me that you put in stark relief. What’s up with the immediate reaction when confronted by a person in authority over your kids with a clipboard to think that your kid has done something wrong?!?! I have three typical kids. They’re not perfect, they’re not hellions, they’re just normal (or as normal as my offspring could ever be expected to be) 12 and 9 year olds. So, why do I immediately jump to the worst case scenario conclusion about their behavior? My first thought when I hear that there’s a “situation” in one of their classes with bullying or talking or something like that is “I wonder if my kid was involved…” They’ve never had poor conduct marks, yet I always go there first.

Lee Anne, I know what you mean. I was known by my first name in my high school principal’s office, but not because I was a frequent flyer for bad reasons. It was mostly because my mom was president of the school board. Of course, this being a Small School in a Small Town, they knew everyone’s first name. And last name. And who your siblings were, and pretty much your entire genealology. But seriously, I didn’t get into trouble. I was a do-gooder. A rule-follower. A pleaser.

So naturally, the first time I got called to my son’s elementary school principal’s office to “discuss” a “situation” in which he had been “involved”, I was beyond mortified. How could my kid be involved in an “issue” at school? Even still, whenever I see the school’s phone number on my caller ID, that’s where I go first. Oh no, what did he do now. Followed by, I guess he wasn’t faking when he said his belly hurt this morning. Followed by, did he forget his trumpet / lunch / homework / gym clothes again?

But the aforementioned “incident” wasn’t such a big deal, really. The principal handled it expertly, my son learned his lesson, and off we went. And that’s Lee Anne’s point – that most of us have pretty good kids, who behave within the range of what most would consider normal. It’s not the end of the world if you get called to the office, because it’s a learning experience for your kid. (Bonus: blog fodder!) And, chances are, when they call you from school, most times you should just go straight exasperation because it’s “what did he forget” rather than “what did he do.”

So then, why indeed, Lee Anne asks, do we go first to the worst case scenario?

I don’t have an answer to that. (Were you expecting one?) But maybe my scores of readers do. Feel free to chime in.

(1) Well, not that many. But keep writing!
(2) Not not her real name.