Traffic ticket that's not ours: how do I make this stop?

A little background: We had a Pontiac Solstice which started having all sorts of mechanical problems in late 2009, so we traded it in and got ourselves a different car at the end of November of that year.

Around three months later, we got a notice of an unpaid parking ticket, for a place we’d never been, on January 4, 2010…for the Pontiac, which we no longer owned. I called up the issuer and told them we no longer owned the car. They said they’d take care of it.

A few months later, we get ANOTHER notice–this one a little grumpier–talking about the same unpaid ticket. I called them back again, and they said they would need proof that we no longer owned the car. So I called the dealership where we traded it in (which is about 5 minutes from our house) and they promised to fax the details to the issuer. End problem, right?

A few months after THAT…ANOTHER notice. Now I’m starting to get mad. I call up the dealership again and ask them to verify that they really did send the info. They did–they even still had the right address on file, and a notation in our file that they had done it. So I call the issuer, tell them that the dealership sent them proof. They have no record. I yell at them until they give me an actual person’s name to send this stuff to, then call the dealer again and ask them to send it and call me back to verify. They’re being very accommodating about the whole thing. They do it. I call back the issuer and tell them the proof is on its way. Okay, then. They say they’ll update the record.

So today, what do I get in my mail but ANOTHER notice saying this effing ticket is still unpaid, and that I owe these morons $90.00. I am beyond pissed now. It seems like these people cannot find their asses with both hands. I’m planning to call them again tomorrow, but I don’t think it’ll do any good. I’ll probably get some other braindead civil servant who doesn’t give a crap, who will want me to call up the dealership and have them fax proof into a black hole again. Which, of course, will do NO good because these cretins don’t know how to update their records properly.

I don’t know what to do. I’m actually thinking about getting a lawyer involved. I have no idea if this is affecting our credit rating (which was stellar last time we checked it), and I’m just getting sick and tired of doing this same dance every few months for no good reason.

Has anyone else experienced this? Any suggestions? Ideas for what else I should do? I can’t go there because it’s a post office box in Newport Beach (I live in San Jose–this is a several-hour drive). I’m so pissed about this I’m about ready to start popping off heads.

Well for one thing, don’t get the dealer to do it for you. Get a copy of the documents and fax it yourself. Or send it certified mail.

You’ve entered the Twilight Zone that is the governmental bureaucracy and its ineptness. Nothing you can do but keep on trying to straighten the record. Heh, I had the opposite problem. I was given a traffic citation and was told to wait for a notice in the mail that will inform me of the fine I’ll have to pay. After a few weeks nothing came in the mail. I called DPT and they told me to just wait and to check for my citation number on their website. Not there. After a year, two years, nothing. So ineptness got me off the hook.

Go see a lawyer, and check your credit! It may be a scam. Or, do city governments really use PO Boxes for their official addresses where you live?! :confused:

How are they associating the car with you? Do they check the VIN when they write a ticket? Aren’t tickets always associated with plate numbers?

I don’t think it’s a scam. For one thing, I would find it very hard to believe that a scammer would pursue us for over a year over a $90 ticket.

What other information did that document contain though? Useful to a thief at all?

I would send the info to them via certified mail with signature/return receipt. As soon as you get the signature card back call them up and tell them you have proof that they have the info they need. Make photocopies of everything you send them in case you need it again. Thank the dealership for their help, send them a fruit basket and buy your next car from them. Now that you have the info, you shouldn’t need them anymore. OTOH, it’s possible the dealership didn’t file something or other with the DMV to change the ownership to the new person OR the DMV messed up.

If I were you, I’d send this stuff off to the issuer then I’d go down to the DMV and see what I could do from there. Can you see if the car was ever transferred out of your name? Did the dealership ever put in the request? I doubt you’ll get far, but it might be worth checking out.

At some point I might just tell the PD to go repo the car. Of course (when I went though something oddly similar*) I’d be worried they’d show up at my house with a tow truck.
*A local dealership someone started using my address for Honda Lease’s address which means I got all the titles…ha ha funny. Then I started getting unpaid parking tickets…a little less funny…then I started getting repo notices…a lot less funny since at the time there was two hondas sitting in my driveway.

Rather common in California. Budget cuts have driven many cities to outsource things that don’t require in-person interaction like collections and processing red light camera photos to companies that specialize in such things.

ETA: Someone’s just not paying attention with this ticket. A few years ago, I sold a car. A couple months later, I got a visit from a CHP officer - the car was abandoned with a pile of paking tickets on it. (Think they were on some "warm and fuzzy let’s do things in person kick at the time) I gave the officer a copy of the bill of sale and never heard from anyone about it again.

Also, how far away is the issuer? Can you just drive over there and take care of this in person? Might be a whole lot easier then doing it via fax machines, snail mail and phone tag.

When I had a problem like this (getting unpaid parking tickets for people scattered all over the midwest) most PD’s would just let me explain what the problem was and that was the end of it. But with Chicago the phone number on the notice was the phone number for an outsourced collections company. Calling them up and trying to explain why the ticket was sent to the wrong address was met with literally “That’s not my problem, we just collect the fines here”. There was no way for me to take care of this. Luckily, in my case I could just ignore the notices and they went away since my cars weren’t actually tied in with anything. They simply just had the wrong address.

Did you file the release of liability with the DMV?

Damn calm down, if this makes you that angry pray you never have to deal with a document blizzard like immigration or something.

Before getting a lawyer, you could also write a polite but exasperated letter (include as much specific info as you can such as the dates you sent/faxed stuff, exactly who you talked to and on what date, etc.) , and carbon copy a couple of elected officials for the municipality in question. You don’t vote for them, so they don’t have a huge incentive to help you, but they still might care enough to make a phone call or two. And even if the officials don’t do anything themselves, when the parking bureau sees them on the cc: list, the bureau might take a bit more care to resolve things.

I work for the government and our correspondence is often sent to a PO Box.

Almost 400 miles, it sounds like. (San Jose, CA to Newport Beach, CA)

Does the stuff the car dealer is sending include the info for the person that purchased the car or just showing that you traded it in? Give them the real person to go after.

I called the DMV today, and they were (surprisingly) quite helpful. It looks like my next step is to request a copy of the Release of Liability from them and then send it to the issuer (which is a collection agency). The DMV person told me that in the future when we trade in a car, we should always fill out the release of liability form ourselves and send it in (rather than having the dealership do it). We’ve always had the dealer do it in the past and never had a problem, but I’m definitely going to take her advice in the future.

I hope this ends the problem–I won’t know for a few weeks because the wheels of the DMV move slowly, but keeping my fingers crossed.

Off-topic, but amusing: This goofball decided, as a joke, to get a vanity plate that read “NO TAGS”. What he didn’t think through is that whenever the police write a ticket on an abandoned car or on any car that has missing plates, they write it up as “NO TAGS” – and it gets sent to this guy. He’s accumulated $20,000 in unwarranted citations arising from other cars, and he spends a big chunk of his time constantly fighting them. As of the time of the article, he couldn’t renew his license or registration because of all the unpaid tickets ascribed to him. Yet he loves his vanity plate so much that he won’t give it up.

That’s kinda funny. :stuck_out_tongue:

For the OP…who actually DOES have ownership of the car right now? And why is it still tied to you at all?