BMV Chief: No Late-Fee Waivers Despite Computer Mess

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Bureau of Motor Vehicles, whose recent computer upgrade left customers struggling to make transactions last month, will not waive late fees for people who missed July 31 deadlines to renew their vehicle registrations, the agency's commissioner said Wednesday.

The agency's July 5 computer upgrade was plagued with several problems, preventing people from completing some transactions for days at license branches. Online service and self-service terminals also were down for several days.

Commissioner Joel Silverman on Wednesday said that customers with July 31 registration renewal deadlines should have made their transactions on time.

"Every one of them could have come into a branch and got their business done," Silverman told 6News' Norman Cox. "It's the responsibility of our customers to make sure they get it done on time.

"Just like you've got to file your taxes on April 15, you've got to register your car on July 31 if that's your deadline."

The bureau said in the first half of July that it would offer extensions for people who had July 15 license-renewal deadlines.

BMV customer Dan Nixon blamed the agency's computer problems for missing his July 31 renewal deadline. July 31 was Monday -- a day license branches are always closed. He had planned to use a self-service terminal, which normally are accessible regardless of whether branches are open.

Over the weekend, some self-service terminals were reactivated for the first time since the July 5 computer upgrade. Nixon said the BMV's Web site announced which ones were activated, and he planned to visit one Monday.

But by the time Nixon made his visit, the BMV had deactivated the terminals, saying they were making too many errors. Nixon said he spent three hours driving to terminals Monday, not knowing that all of them were inoperable.

Nixon said he then went to a branch on Tuesday -- a day late -- to renew. The agency initially told him to pay a late fee, but it backed down when he complained, he said.

Silverman on Wednesday offered no sympathy for people who couldn't use self-service terminals.

"There's often times throughout the history of self-service terminals since I've been here where they haven't been working, and I think that's just the risk you run," Silverman said.

When Silverman closed some license branches last year, part of his reasoning was that in-person transactions were inefficient and that people should use other means such as the agency's Web site and self-service terminals.

When Cox reminded Silverman that he had urged people to use avenues other than license branches, Silverman responded: "Yeah, but if they're not available, obviously you can't use it."

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