In 1998 I leased a Ford Explorer on a 3 year term. Sometime in 2001 I returned that vehicle to the dealership, completed all the turn-in paperwork and ended the lease.
In July of 2008, some SEVEN years after having owned the vehicle in question, I receive a notice of parking violation in the West Los Angeles area which I live nowhere near. I knew this had to be in error as the license plate that was on the citation notice was a regular issued DMV plate. My currrent vehicle (as well as my wife's) both have personal plates.
The violation was for No Parking/Street Cleaning day or something like that.
I called the Parking Violation Bureau and after being on hold for an eternity, I got some apathetic, rude customer service person on the other end. I explained my situation and explained this ticket had to have been issued in error as I do not have any current vehicles with the license plate in question.
She verified the citation # and said it was issued to a FORD. No other description given, but she claimed that I was the RO of the vehicle. I told her I wanted to contest the citation as I do not own that vehicle. They said they would verify it in their system and respond within 5 days in writing.
Three days past, and this time I get TWO letters in the mail from the Parking Violations Bureau. The first one was a NEW citation, this time for Meter Expired. The second letter was to inform me that they had verified the citation and that I am the RO of the vehicle and would be held liable for the original citation.
The citations occured in a residental neighborhood (I googled both addresses) and discovered the streets intersect together in this residential neighborhood.
I went down to my local Police department (thank god I don't live in the City of Los Angeles), and the desk officer out of courtesy ran the plate in question.
He told me that I was the ORIGINAL RO of the vehicle but the vehicle was transferred to a new owner in 2001 who lives...guess where? In the same neighborhood where the citations were issued. The officer went on to tell me that the vehicle had current registration and that another gentleman is showing up as the CURRENT RO, not me.
For security reasons, he could not give me a print out and I understand that. He told me to call the Parking Violations Bureau back, explain my findings and ask them to re-run the registration.
I called them back and got yet another unhelpful, apathetic person on the other end who told me they do not run vehicle registrations and that the burden of proof was my problem, not theirs. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told no supervisors where available. I asked for their voicemail and was shut down there as well.
I was told they would put a message into their system and have a supervisor call me back in 2 days. I never got the call.
I called back a few days later and tried to explain my story again. This time I was told that they would look into the situation and try to resolve it. I never heard anything back from that conversation but made the assumption it had been resolved as no communication came back that they were still holding me liable for the citations.
Months past and right before the holidays in December I get a notice from LDC Collection Systems that my failure to pay for the citations have caused them to be turned over to collections and of course more money is owed. It also warned me that my credit rating would be affected unless I pay ASAP.
I called the # on the letter and got a recorded message with just payment instructions.
A few days later I get ANOTHER letter from the Parking Violations Bureau stating that I now have a NOTICE of ENFORCEMENT SANCTIONS, the fees have increased and now the vehicle is on holding status with the DMV and the vehicle can not be re-registered. Like that is my problem. I feel sorry for the poor guy that owns the vehicle now.
I went to the Auto Club (I am a member there) and tried to get the registration information. The clerk at the Auto Club verified in her DMV computer that I AM NOT THE CURRENT RO of the vehicle in question. She said she could not give me the printout for security reasons and she said neither would the DMV if I went there.
So today (1/5/09) I take time away from work to try and resolve this matter AGAIN. I call their main # and guess what? I did another unhelpful, arrogant representative from the Parking Violations Bureau. I attempt to plead my case and they pulled up the records of my account. They claim that a supervisior indeed try to call me back the following day. I said I never got the call or voicemail. She verified that the phone # was correct and then she said...oh the supervisor said it sounded like a wrong # so he didnt leave a message...how convenient.
She then told me that I exceeded my window to appear in person and dispute the citations so I have to pay for them. I asked to speak to a supervisor again and was told that no one was available but they would call me back in 2 days. Here we go again.
I told her that I am not the current RO and she said that they have no way of pulling vehicle registration, so I would be better off just paying the fines to make this go away.
I asked her for the name and address of the Commissioner in charge of Parking Violations and was told that information is not available. Are they not a public office? After I pushed the issue she said the persons name was "Sonny" and refused to give a last name or mailing address.
I could not find any information via Google on "Sonny" so my next call was to City Hall. I actually got a nice person there who said the City Department of Transportation oversees the Parking Violation Bureau and got this information:
Board of Transportation
Paul Kim, Director
100 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
When I called that # it went to voice mail with someone's name other than Paul Kim...who indicated she was out of the office on vacation but to call this # instead (213) 972-8456. I called that # and that person was out on vacation as well but was told to call this #, (213) 972-8449 for help. I called that # and yes believe it or not, that person was out of the office on vacation. So, no one apparently works there or they allow everyone to take vacation at the same time. Got to love being a public servant.
I got the main # to the receptionist (213) 972-8470 who had no clue what to do with me and she dumped me into someone's voicemail who yes, was out on vacation as well. I left a stern message there indicating I want a call back ASAP and then I found their department's website and I sent an email to their general email box explaining my needs and that I want someone to contact me ASAP. I am not expecting to hear back.
My last call was to the the West LA station of LAPD. I got their community service officer who was rude on the phone and said parking violations are not his problem and that I would have to call someone at the Transporation Bureau.
So here I sit, 3 hours wasted today trying to fix something that is not my fault or problem.
I am seriously considering filing a lawsuit or small claims action against all these departments....this is ridiculous.
Anyone interested in a class action? They need to be fixed and regulated better.