Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Excerpts from the Book: "You Can't Make This Shit Up" Chapter Marbete

Today started with a wonderful double rainbow at my house. I thought it was a sign I'd be able to do 2 things today...here in Puerto Rico doing 2 things in one day is almost a miracle. The saga started when I realized the marbete on the truck was about to expire. My friends were coming from the states and I had a lot to do to make their stay enjoyable and I figured I would take care of it after they left since it would be a week before it expired. Then Jeff got sent to the states with work and left a day before my friends left and I realized my critical error. A little background is necessary to fully appreciate this chapter of the book. Around a month before your mandatory Puerto Rico car insurance expires you get a 4-plicate paperwork thing in the mail....wait...rewind. You are SUPPOSED to get something in the mail. When we bought the truck we didn't get the title for 8 or 9 months and had to go to the dealer when the marbete was up. Year 2 it came in the mail. Year 3 it didn't and we had a problem - if it doesn't come you can't get an inspection (exhaust sniffer) and without the inspection you don't have the papers to take to the collectoria (money taking place) to get the sticker to prove you have paid. Last year the problem was that they didn't have the weight of the truck in one of the boxes (the inspection guy's oversight? who knows). Do they alert you there is a problem? No. Is there any way to know what the problem is or could even be? No. After asking around I was told to go to the Department of Transportation equivalent here which is essentially a death sentence (meaning long lines and no one can do anything). So LAST YEAR off I went, waited in line, and was told I couldn't get the form printed out because the truck was in Jeff's name. Yeah. He had to take time off work to go wait in line to get a paper printed out. Not a title, not to pay anything, not because we didn't do something but because THEY didn't send it. A paper. Flash forward.

So my critical error is that Jeff is in the states, the marbete is expiring and I am not on the title. I can't do it. No big deal, I'll cruise around in the car until he gets back. He gets back and now I have figured out what has to be done. I have to get a letter (a permission slip like I am 10 and going on a field trip) that says I am allowed to pick up the paper for the truck. I also need his driver's license to do this. I head out, get there (at least it is Aguadilla and not Mayaguez) and there isn't a line!!! I am excited and imagine my rainbow day is giving me great luck and everything is going to go my way!!!!! Wrong.

The guy I go to can print out the paper for me but he isn't authorized to change the address. (Even though we changed everything and did a change of address form with the postal service I wanted it on record AGAIN so we get it next time.)  Lucky for me he hands it off to a gal and she calls me over (no waiting), gets it changed efficiently and I am done with that part (I think). I try my luck at getting the paper for the new car since it will be due in 2 months and I assume I won't be getting anything in the mail for that one. I don't have the title yet so I inquire. I am told the car is not in the system and to call the dealer (whom I have already called with an address change since we didn't get the title). Great. No title, no marbete, I can look forward to a repeat of this in a couple months. I am pleased one thing is done, go to the truck and discover that she changed my mailing address to Aguadilla (our post office box) but she left the physical address as San German. I go back in and am told it is a different line to change that and I will need a water or electricity bill to do it. Imagine what a shock that was. An electricity bill to change your truck registration? Oh, wait, not a shock if you live here. I go on to the next step and skip that one because....1) I don't want to go to another line 2) I don't carry water and power bills or house deeds around with me 3) if I had the bills my name isn't on them (Jeff's is) and I will need another permission slip! They probably will even make me get another license! I will wait another year until my license expires thank you. So is it done yet? No.

New town, new locations of collectorias, government offices etc. I found a place to get the inspection earlier and that is when I discovered I couldn't get it done (you would think a 12 year old car's VIN would be in the system by now). This place was great since it was close to home AND not only could you get the inspection but you could pay him 5 bucks and avoid the collectoria. One stop for 2 things. How efficient! I went there with my 1/2 corrected paper in hand, gave him that and our "voucher" from CAICO insurance that says we have real car insurance and it is beyond the mandatory stuff. This means we essentially prepaid the mandatory stuff. He gets it done, goes to enter the "voucher" and it isn't in there. I have to pay him the 11 bucks for the inspection but now am stuck with a few choices: 1) pay him the $244 bucks and get reimbursed $96 from my insurance (cash only and I didn't have that much plus then the hassle of getting back from the insurance place - like that's gonna happen), 2) take it to the collectoria (don't know where it is and there are always lines because you have to do everything there), 3) pay $5 and wait in line at a bank.
I opt for #3. I pick a bank across the street on the same side I am on. Banks here are also like made-up movie banks: You stand like an idiot in a line outside. A green light goes on and one person goes in between a set of doors. They wait for a green light there. They go into the bank and now the space is open and you can do the same. I get in line. Finally it is my turn and luckily the voucher IS in their system, I pay my money and I am free! Then I wait for the green light. Stand in the holding zone awaiting teletransport to a better place, get the green light and I am fu#$^ on my way! So now I am staying close to the phone writing this blog while I wait for the car dealer to call me back regarding the title to the car we bought with the credit card 9 months ago. Maybe if they send it again...with the new address...it will get into the system on time to send the paperwork to my mail place and it will be smooth sailing? Yeah, right. Write that up in a movie script!


Anonymous said...

Sorry but I don't get it.

I certainly don't go through so much drama to get my "marbete" every year. I take each of my family's cars (4) get them inspected when due at a local gas station. Go to the gas station's cashier pay the $11 for the inspection. Then I hand her $84 in fees, my private insurer's letter of certifying my car is insured, plus $5 to the retailer for their hassle.

That's it, no drama. Cheaper than when I live in MA, KY, FL and CA.. and somewhat easier.

Drama may sell books, but its not reality.

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Relax, anonymous. Sounds like you have had things work out. In our case the papers didn't come and then it went downhill from there. If your papers don't come and you aren't on the title and your insurer's letter isn't in the system you will feel my pain. We all know how efficient Puerto Rico is! You can find my book at www.imaginarybooks.com

Fran and Steve said...

Our renewal notices did not arrive, and there was no reason at all for that. Several friends have told us they rarely get their notices. Thank goodness we heard you can get them online. http://www.dtop.gov.pr/serviciosenlinea/ and create an account. Then you can download your renewal every year on the month it's due. As far as the insurer's letter, it's up to you to ask your insurer for it and then take it with you when you go for the inspection. Not on the title? Jeff is going to have to make sure to be in PR for at least a few days during renewal month. As with everything government here, if you don't have your ducks in a row, there are no easy workarounds. This is a pull, not push system for everything. You have to proactively get stuff you need (in many cases by going to the agency in person) because it usually is not sent to you. I once asked an agency clerk (when I was apparently unprepared for a transaction) how I was supposed to know the process (you know I research everything as much as possible), and she said, "Todo el mundo lo sabe" (Everyone knows). Osmosis? Experience? At birth? As Anonymous said, it can go smoothly once you are familiar with the process. -- Fran

Fran and Steve said...

Have to post an update on trying to renew both our marbetes expiring this month. Got our cars inspected, no problem. First problem: There is no inspection station in Humacao that accepts your insurer's letter (unless the insurer is Pointguard). Therefore, in order to avoid lines at CESCO or colecturia, we went to Banco Popular. Second problem: Although BPPR is authorized to process the insurer's letter and sell marbetes, they were unable to get their system to recognize the insurance letters. We tried Scotiabank next. Third problem: Scotiabank can do all the above, but only with the 4-part notice you're supposed to get in the mail, not the EXACT EQUIVALENT that we downloaded from the DTOP site (since we didn't receive anything in the mail). Then we went to FirstBank, which finally got the job done. FOUR stops. Even though we had our ducks in a row. So, I say to Anonymous, if it sounded like I sided with you, I now respectfully take it back. IF the inspection stations were able to do it all, I would somewhat agree with you. (Having to go someplace to buy your marbete is NOT easier than getting it in the mail, as in California.) I will grant you that it is cheaper here, but MUCH more time-consuming than in California, with far more drama. At least we now know for next year to go straight to FirstBank after the inspection. Which by the way, was every 2 years in CA, instead of once a year. And is it really a smog check here? There are so many cars with obvious emissions issues, I am wondering what the purpose of the annual inspection is. BTW, I'm Puerto Rican and love my island, but "facts is facts", and newcomers to the island should be made aware. -- Fran

Anonymous said...

Katrina, Fran,
Thanks for the details. I'll need to register/inspect an auto at some point and I too will do what I can to be prepared. I suppose the frame of mind on that day needs to be extremely flexible, with no expectations, even in 2012!