Who is James Michael Ward and what in the hell does he have to do with me? That’s what I would like to know.
I went to the DMV (BMV here in Ohio) to get plates for my new car and to renew my license. The plate thing went fine but when they got to my license, the system went down. No biggie, I decided to come back the next day since I am only a few minutes from the place. Well, the next day I went back and stood in line and watched as a few people ahead of me renewed their licenses. Good, system is back up, all is right with the world, I can get done and get on with my life…. or so I thought.
I got to the desk again and the lady typed in my license number and the system hung up again. I told her the same thing had happened the day before and she realized that the problem was with my license. She called the state BMV office and was informed that my license was on hold because of incidents in Oklahoma and Illinois. I was in Chicago a few times (mostly the airport on layovers and other than that it was 2001 on my way to the airport) and I have never been in Oklahoma, so I had no idea what was going on. The BMV lady gave me the phone numbers for IL, OK and OH BMV main offices and said I would have to clear it up before I could renew.
OK, first emotion fear, and I was nervous that I had been the victim of identity theft. I called the IL BMV office and that lady told me there was no one with my name and birthday registered in IL. She said she couldn’t help and that Ohio would have to remove the blocks from my license. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 1.
I called the state of OH BMV and got disconnected. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 2.
Still in the fear mode and now a little pissed, I called the state of OH BMV again and was told that each state has to clear the record so that OH can remove the block. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 3.
I called the state of IL BMV and actually got the same lady I had already spoken to. I had a reference number from OH now so she did a little more looking and found a James Michael Ward with my birthday (only 2 years earlier) and she told me that he must have done something wrong and whoever entered the record picked me for match. I was able to ascertain that I wasn’t a victim of ID theft from some additional info she gave me. She also told me that I would have to fax in a whole bunch of documents proving that I was not this other guy so they could take the block off my license. She also said it would take over a week to get is all done. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 4.
Emotion check, a little relief. It looks like I will be able to get this resolved and no one stole my identity.
Next I called the state of OK BMV and explained the whole situation again. This lady told me that there was no one in OK with my birthday and my name with a license. I told her I knew that and gave her the info I had. She said that it was obviously not me and I agreed. Then she said that there was no way for her to remove the block until they got the right guy and since OH had it blocked, they would have to unblock mine. I said OK and hung up confused and a little more irritated. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 5.
Emotion – really irritated. I began to realize I had to jump through my ass to provide paperwork to IL to prove I wasn’t someone else and even if I did that, OK would still have my record blocked so I couldn’t renew my license anyway.
I called OH BMV to try to explain that. Whoever I spoke to wasn’t really any help since ‘it was up to me to get it resolved’. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 6.
I called IL BMV back to try to sweet talk my way into having them clear the record and I was going to try to play one side against the other. At this point, I was just hoping to get somewhere with someone. I spoke to the same woman, again, and she said the only way she could help was if I sent her the documents she had requested. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 7.
Emotion – really pissed.
So I called OK BMV again. Disconnected. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 8.
So I called OK BMV again. And spoke to a woman explaining the story again. She said “I don’t know why Ohio can’t see that it ain’t you” to which I of course agreed. I told her that I needed OK to clear it so OH could proceed and she reiterated that she couldn’t clear it. She asked me for a fax number in OH and she would fax something up to them saying it wasn’t me to see if that would help. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 9.
So I called OH again and spoke to another woman. After I gave her all the information, she said, “well, it’s obviously not you, there is a different first name and birthdate.” She went on to tell me that she needed to call another office to have them remove the block and it would be done within a day, and that someone from that office would call me. I almost wept. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 10.
Emotion check – who the hell knows… relief, still a little pissed that I had to go through all that and some apprehension that it might not happen the way she said it would.
Well, about 4 hours later a woman from that office called and said the blocks had been removed. She gave me her name and number and said to go renew my license and if there was any trouble have the local BMV call her directly. Call count to resolve this issue so far: 11.
I went to the BMV office, 4th time in 2 days. All the women waved and said hello since they all knew me by now, and I felt kind of like Norm walking into Cheers. They gave me head of the line privileges which kind of torked the other folks until I gave them a quick rundown of the series of events, afterwhich, they let me through. 5 minutes later I had my license and was out the door.
After I got back home I called the last lady who had called me to thank her and tell her it all went smoothly. I also asked if my record has been marked so this wouldn’t happen again. She told me there was no way they could mark it, and unless James Michael Ward turned himself in to clear the record, I would be going though it all again in December of 2009 when it was time to renew my license again.
I can’t wait…..
Total call count to resolve this issue: 12. And BMV’s wonder why they have a bad wrap…