May 14, 2004

DMV in Indiana

BMV vendor takes blame for causing overcharges

Hundreds of vehicle owners who renewed license plates March 30 at kiosks, on Internet were affected.


By Fred Kelly
fred.kelly@indystar.com
May 12, 2004

A vendor hired by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles admitted Tuesday to causing the beleaguered state agency to overcharge hundreds of people for license plate renewals.

Intellectual Technology bungled the billing process for Internet orders that were placed on March 30, leading the BMV to charge motorists hundreds of dollars more than they owed, President Craig Litchin said.

The snafu marks the fourth time in three years that the BMV has botched license plate renewals for large numbers of drivers, including twice this year.

Officials have identified 872 people whose credit card and bank accounts were charged as much as three times the correct amount. The agency has corrected the error with the motorists' financial institutions, said Dan Henkel, a BMV spokesman.

Fees for license plate renewals vary widely depending on the age and value of the vehicle but can reach as high as $500 for luxury cars and trucks.

The agency is still trying to identify other customers who were incorrectly billed.

Intellectual Technology, of Delaware, is offering to reimburse vehicle owners for any overcharges and checking and banking fees, Henkel said.

Twenty-four people in recent weeks have sent documentation to the BMV demanding reimbursement for nearly $3,000 in banking fees, such as overdrafts on checking accounts, he said.

"Most of the people used a charge card, and the money was put back in their accounts before they knew what happened," Henkel said.

Under a contract with the BMV, Intellectual Technology receives roughly $4.5 million a year to help register vehicles. The company's duties include supplying 36 BMV Express kiosks where customers can use a computer to renew their license plates.

Five of the machines failed to transmit billing information to customers' financial institutions for transactions that took place March 30.

Intellectual Technology officials tried to fix the problem April 14.

But instead of just billing customers who used the five kiosks, a subcontractor for the company wrongly billed the accounts of anyone who used the Internet on March 30 to renew their license plates, Henkel said.

As a result, many motorists were billed twice.

Litchin would not identify the subcontractor.

The BMV learned of the snafu on April 19 and a day later mailed notices to customers informing them about the mistake.

Agency officials asked Intellectual Technology to address the situation, but its subcontractor once again mistakenly billed the motorists.

The company has launched an internal investigation to determine how the mistake occurred, but executives believe it was human error, Litchin said.

"We're going to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

Earlier this year, the BMV mistakenly mailed renewal notices to up to 500,000 motorists whose vehicle registrations didn't expire for months. Administrators acknowledged that thousands of people might have paid their registration unnecessarily early.

In 2003, a glitch delayed the delivery of tens of thousands of license plates. A year before that, a computer problem meant 16,000 motorists didn't receive renewal notices.

Henkel defended the agency, saying it handles more than 8 million transactions annually at 170 branches statewide.

Administrators have chastised Intellectual Technology for the incident, but "they have been a very good vendor," he said.

Call Star reporter Fred Kelly at (317) 444-6491.


BMV vendor takes blame for causing overcharges

Posted by Craig at May 14, 2004 02:37 PM