Dear Butcher found out late last week that my nasty minivan qualifies for the Cash for Clunkers program. (Oy. My minivan, that thing's on its last legs. Cracked windshield, two speeds on the fan are busted, all the interior trim has been picked at by my anxious son, there are holes in the carpet, the sliding doors sometimes still stick shut, the rear brakes are shot, it needs new tires, and it's overdue for all of the fluid maintenance. Other than that, it still drives in a straight line when asked.)
So this is an easy thing, just bring one car down and pick up another car. Except for when you can't find the title to the car you've owned since 2002.
We bought the car while we were living in a rental as we were selling our old house. Then we packed everything up and moved up here in mid 2002. The title's not in the "important papers" box with the birth certificates and the passports. Hey, wait a minute, neither is the title to Dear Butcher's car. Huh.
Monday I went through every filed bit of paper in the house. No titles. I went through my desk I used to use when I had set up shop in the extra storage shed in the back yard (from 2002 - 2003). No titles. I went through all the bookshelves in my bedroom. Found a title!
It was the title to Dear Butcher's car!
Except that Dear Butcher's car is a Prius and we're not trading it in. I check online with the DMV -- how long does it take to get a duplicate title? It won't say. I check AAA's website. They won't say either! Hey, wait a minute guys. What gives?
I can transfer ownership of the car at the same time I request a duplicate title, but cash for clunkers requires a paper title in hand. Ugh.
I finally trot down to AAA, stand in line, and ask them if they do duplicate titles there. Yes. And if I come back tomorrow with the title holder then we can get the title tomorrow? Yes.
So on Tuesday Dear Butcher and I trot down to AAA. Well.....you cna't really walk out of there WITH the title. You can put in the title request, and you can place a papeless title transfer through AAA, but it takes thirty days for DMV to print and send a title.
We ended up going to the dealer anyway. Maybe they know of a magical way to -- wait a minute! They do indeed!
There's something called a "72 Hour SPecial Processing Service" which if you send the title request by mail, only by mail, to this address in Sacramento with an extra procesing fee, you can get the printed title with a 72 hour turnaround. OK, then.
After we look at cars, we trot home. Cash for Clunkers may go away by Friday. If I can get this going I just might be able to get this thing turned around -- but the DMV is closed statewide on Fridays. It's pushing it pretty tight. Salesman says maybe it will be extended and we can go forward on Monday, but try for Friday. I go to fill out the paperwork and stick it in an envelope when I realize that I don't know what the "extra processing fee" is. So I call the number ont eh brochure the dealer has given me.
8.5 minutes of hold.
Lady answers the phone and I ask about the "72 hour Special Processing Service" for duplicate title requests, saying that I'm interested in knowing what the fee is.
She's never heard of it.
"But I'm holding a printout from your website which was retrieved today."
"No, we've never had a program like that. It's thirty days to get a title."
"Listen, I'll read it to you. 'For information regarding fees and other services please call....' See? I'm calling for information on the processing fee."
"Well, you might have to call the Sacramneto office."
8 minutes of hold later, I get a lady on the phone who has heard of the program and who does know the amount of the "Special Procesing fee". Excellent. Fifteen bucks. Fine. No problem. Then she gives me the most exact address information I have ever experienced. Where to put spaces. Where to put a dash. Where to put a line break. Okaaay.
Then she says, "You know, it's not really 72 hour turnaround. You can't rely on it."
"That's OK. I understand. I'd like 72 hours, but the world isn't going to end if it comes in later."
"The processing time at this point is 2 to 4 weeks."
So kiddies. 30 days for regular, 2 to 4 weeks for "72 Hour Special Processing Service."
If Cash for Clunkers goes til Labor Day without the income restrictions that Harkins would like to add and if the California DMV can get me a title within four weeks, I might get a smaller better car. My fingers are crossed.
What I find silly about this "Special Processing Service" is that "72 hours" is IN the title. Guys. Who thought that was a good idea?