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MVD has surprise for some of its customers

WHEN ZERO ADDS UP TO A LOT: As Journal readers learned Friday, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division had a little issue with around 90,000 vehicle registrations it just sent out.

A single-extra-digit issue.

And it had 91,780 vehicle owners experiencing big sticker shock.

Don Jugenheimer of Alto emailed Thursday: “The N.M. Motor Vehicle Division sent out the June 2019 vehicle registration renewal notices with the wrong amounts charged. Ours says we owe $970! Calling the MVD toll-free number results in: dropped calls, a busy signal, or – when you finally get through – at least a half-hour wait time. We pay for these services, and they cannot do it correctly?”

Soon after, RK of Albuquerque emailed, “We got a bill today from the state Motor Vehicle Division giving notice that the license registration for our 2014 Acura is due at the end of June. The amount for a one-year registration? A whopping $510! When did license registration fees go through the roof like this?”

Then Alan Schwartz reached out to say, “I just got my friendly MVD license renewal today. Copy is attached. I know the new-car-excise tax was increased, but this one seems to have slipped in without anyone noticing – $660 for a one-year renewal on a five-year-old car. Are we in California now?”

And David Couger of Santa Fe shared, “I bought a 2002 Jeep Liberty last year. I just got the first registration renewal by mail showing a one-year renewal fee of $510, which I thought was a little high. I went to the MVD website and purchased a two-year renewal for $95. Is this normal?”

No, it’s not normal, and the fact you can register for a much lower – and the correct – amount on the website was a hint something was glitchy.

Thursday afternoon, MVD’s parent agency, the Taxation and Licensing Department, sent out a news release titled “MVD: Computer error caused inaccurate renewal notices; customers have not been charged additional fees.”

According to the news release, “a computer error caused an erroneous additional digit to be included in the amount due. Customers who visit an MVD field office or to renew their registrations are able to view and pay the correct amount due. Those who wish to pay by mail may find the correct fee total by visiting and clicking on ‘vehicles’ in the navigation bar.”

Alicia Ortiz, the MVD director, explains in the release that “an erroneous additional ‘0’ was included in the amount due. Staff is at work correcting the error and directly contacting affected customers. We strive for excellence in our customer service, and we sincerely apologize for any confusion the error has caused. The issue will be fixed within the coming days, well in advance of the next round of notices that will go out later this month. In the meantime, we are working diligently to notify customers and ensure they understand their fees have not increased.”

And should anyone mail in a check with that extra zero in the dollar box and line?

“Any that might be received in an erroneous amount will be refunded promptly.”

WHAT’S WITH THE ENDLESS I-40 WORK? Many drivers have been asking that as they deal with longer commutes on westbound Interstate 40.

And the local office of the New Mexico Transportation Department feels their pain.

Spokeswoman Kimberly Gallegos says in a news release that NMDOT “has received a lot of phone calls from concerned citizens about the road construction project on westbound I-40 in Albuquerque. The department recognizes this project may have caused significant traffic delays. For this particular project, concrete slabs are being poured in small sections, which then have to cure. This requires traffic to be reduced to one lane to provide safety to on-site workers as they conduct material testing, pothole patching and prep work for upcoming slabs.”

Gallegos says there also “may have been some confusion about the completion date of (the westbound I-40) project. The public may have noticed differing dates on the dynamic and portable message boards. NMDOT wants to notify the public the work will be wrapping up by July of 2019 and will continue to require one-lane traffic configurations.”

She adds that crews are working nights and off-peak as much as possible but sometimes it’s necessary to work during rush hours, and “NMDOT sincerely appreciates the public’s patience and courtesy.”

And that brings to mind a favorite message on the electronic message boards recently: Drive Like You Work Here.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.