Wednesday, August 16, 2023


It has recently come to my attention that the DMV does not, under any circumstances, want you to call them. I mean sure, when you go into a DMV branch, they don’t want to talk to you either, but they really don’t want you to call.

Recently, a friend of mine bought a new car. He quickly found an eager buyer for his old car and set up the meeting for the sale. The only issue was that he didn’t have the title document (or “pink slip” if you’re a Beach Boys fan). It had been electronically sent to the DMV, but he didn’t have it in his hand.

Fortunately, in California, anyway, you don’t have to have it in your hand to sell your car. We were 95% sure that he just needed the transfer of title form and a bill of sale form. I was helping him gather up the paperwork, and the 5% doubt is what had me calling the DMV.

I was immediately connected to the DMV’s “automated assistant” (read: scary AI robot that is no doubt communicating with Skynet). His name was Miles. (I see what you did there, DMV. Cute.)

Miles: What can I assist you with today?

Me: I want to speak to a live person.

Miles: OK, due to high call volumes, the DMV offers a call back service. What is it you would like to speak to an agent about?

Me: [speaking very clear English] Forms needed to sell a car without the title.

Miles: OK, you want to know how long a DUI stays on your record. DUI's come with two different points. A one-point DUI stays on your record for...

(I am not making this up.)

Miles: We will call you back at 3:20pm.

(It was 12:20pm)

Miles: If you would like us to call you back on this number, press 1. To use a different number, press 2.

Me, thinking: Umm, I don't want you to call me about DUI's. I also don't want questions about DUI’s associated with my phone number. God only knows what Skynet will do with that info...

Me: [presses 2]

Miles: Please enter the number you would like us to call.

Me: [presses 0000000000]

Miles: Hmm… That doesn't seem to be a valid phone number. Please enter the number again.

Me: Click.

Me, thinking and redialing: OK, let’s start over and pray that they don’t store the canceled calls…

Miles: What can I assist you with today?

Me: [speaking even more very clear English] How do I sell a car with no physical title document?

Miles: Bien. Le gustaría saber qué formularios se necesitan para vender su automóvil. ¿Se lo venderá a una fiesta privada oa un negocio?


Again, I am not making this up. Not only did Miles start speaking Spanish, but he was doing it in the most non-Spanish-speaking American accent imaginable. As if the AI was set to "Ted Lasso using Google translate."


It was at that moment that I started looking around for the hidden cameras and Ashton Kutcher hiding behind the ficus. Am I being punked?


OK, hang up and start over…

Miles: Due to high call volumes, we cannot take your call today. Please call back tomorrow morning.

(It was 12:30pm)

Wow, OK. I guess I’ll try the DMV website for the live chat that Miles was advertising. I got back on my computer and clicked on the yellow “Ask DMV” button at the bottom of the screen and was connected to an actual human in less than four minutes... OK, so the DMV is abandoning the phone lines. Cool. Good to know.

Me: Types in question…

DMV Chat Employee, presumably in India: You need Form 277 and Form 262.

Me: OK, we have Form 277. What is Form 262?

DMVCEPII: Form 262 is the Bill of Sale.

Me: OK, we already have Form 135 which says Bill of Sale. Is that a substitute for Form 262?

DMVCEPII: Let me check... Does your Form 135 have an odometer section?

Me: No.

DMVCEPII: OK, then you will need Form 262. It has the odometer statement section that you will sign. Form 277 is available for download, but Form 262 has to be picked up in person.

Me: I have to go to an actual DMV branch to get Form 262?


Me: It’s not available anywhere in your online forms on the website?


I didn't even bother asking why.

So, our takeaways from this are as follows:

1) The DMV has two phone operators and they are on break together.

2) Miles is an AIdiot.

3) The DMV is sneaking up on almost achieving a reasonable level of customer service with their online “Ask DMV” chat function.

4) However, the DMV will never not be the DMV.


See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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