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The joys of selling a car in Australia


There I was … Honest John’s used car lot, Windsor, New South Wales (NSW). It’s 96 degrees in the shade. I’ve worked up a major sweat trundling around, trying to dump the car.  Honest John’s is the 6th place I’ve been. Honest John smiles and offers me $5,000 for it. (I bought it for $11,000 two and a half months ago.) After recovering from a dead faint, I asked him what he’d put it on the lot for? “Oh, $9,600 is the red book value, so about that.”

Apparently Australia’s least desirable car

The guy wants 100% profit! I called him on it and he said, “I’ve got overhead, I’ve got to make a little profit, and besides, this car is registered in Western Australia (WA); it’ll be a huge hassle to convert it to NSW plates.”

“How much of a hassle are we talking about?”

 “I’d be surprised if anyone will buy it from you if you don’t have at least a blue slip for it.”

“What’s a blue slip? And where do I get one?”

 “It’s a detailed vehicle inspection and there are only a few places that do them. There’s one in Richmond, near your motel. Here are the directions.”

I followed the directions 8 kilometers to Norman Andrews Auto Repair, only to find he is on holiday for the next 5 days. The guys at the auto parts store next door said the Goodyear tire dealer in North Richmond, about 15 kilometers away, also did blue slips.

When I got to the North Richmond Goodyear dealer, I learned they don’t do blue slips, they only do pink slips.

“Where”, I asked, “is someone who does blue?”

“Take a right on Terrace. When you come to the tee in the road, go right. It’s right on the corner by the shopping center. You can’t miss it”

Twelve kilometers later, I take the right at the tee. Twelve kilometers from there, and I’m a block from Honest John’s!!! I’ve made a complete circle! And I still haven’t seen a shopping center! Frustrated, I decide to go back to the hotel for a cold beer and a long cry.

The next morning, bright and early, I present myself to the NRMA (the equivalent of our AAA) office in Richmond, figuring they’ll know who does blue slips. They have no idea. But, if I just go a couple of blocks down to the RTA (our DMV) they are sure to know; after all, they are the ones who need the blue slips.

I went to the RTA and took a number (8). When I was called, the lady was very nice and gave me a list of the places in the vicinity that did blue slips. When I asked her which ones she thought might be open on New Year’s Eve, she blanched, looked at the list, and said, “Maybe the one in Londonderry?”

“England?” I asked.

“No, it’s just 5 minutes down the road toward Penrith”

Whew!

I found the place in Londonderry and was pleased and surprised to see it was open. The mechanic was due back any minute and they could get to me right away. An hour later, I was on my way back to the RTA to get NSW plates.

I got to the RTA and took a number (82). When the nice lady called me, I took all my paperwork for the car up to the window.

“I’d like to register my car here in NSW. Here is the blue slip, the current registration, my proof of insurance, and my driver’s license.”

“Thank you, sir. May I have your passport, the old plates from your auto, and your green slip?”

“Green slip! What the hell is a green slip? I have a blue slip. Why do I need a green slip?”

“A green slip is proof the car is insured for liability coverage. It goes with the registration. Every car has to have a green slip or it can’t be registered.”

“Jesus! Where do I get a green slip?”

“Here’s a list of places that provide them. Have a nice day.”

One of the places that provide green slips is the NRMA. Remember the NRMA? The day started at the NRMA.

I went to the NRMA and took a number (47 … currently serving number 35). The nice lady there said, “Weren’t you in here earlier?”

“Yes I was. I asked where I could go to get a blue slip. Now I’m back to get a green slip.”

“Why didn’t you get a green slip when you were here before?”

“I didn’t know I needed one! Further more, I didn’t know what a green slip was! Come to think of it, I still don’t. I just know I need one.”

“Do you have your blue slip with you?”

“Yes, thank God!”

So, since the computer is down today, we have to do it manually. This takes 30 minutes, $270, and forty questions.

I went back to the RTA office and took a number (153 … currently serving 135). When I was called to the window, I gave the nice man:
• My passport
• The blue slip
• The green slip
• The old tags from the car
• The old registration
• My driver’s license
• My Military ID card
• My credit card with my picture on it
• My library card
• My AARP membership card
• A note from My wife saying I had her permission to sell the car
• A picture of my first-born
• My Blockbuster Video Membership card
• And a hearty “There, that should do it!”

This got a big smile from the guy and a giggle from the lady I had seen previously at the adjacent window.

“Well, you appear to be well prepared, let’s get to work and get you a rego (Aussie for registration). What is your permanent address in NSW?”

“I don’t live in NSW, I live in the US. I’m merely visiting. I bought the car in Perth, and I’m going to sell it here before I return to the good old U.S. of A.”

“You don’t have a permanent address? How did you get the rego in WA? Did you have one there?”

“No, I was staying in a hotel there when I purchased and registered the car. It didn’t seem to be a problem.”

“Oh boy! You say you’re traveling here on holiday? How long have you been in Australia?”

“A little under 3 months.”

“What date did you purchase the car?”

“The 6th of November.”

“Oh boy! You’ve had it less than 90 days?”

“Yes.”

“Then it requires another inspection by the police department. You can have it done in Penrith. That’s about 30 kilometers from here.”

“What!? Another inspection? What color slip does this come with? Puce? I can’t believe this.”

“And I’m not sure we can issue a rego to someone who doesn’t live here.”

“So, let me get this straight. You want me to go to Penrith, get another inspection, then come back here, only to find out I can’t get a “rego” anyway, because I’m not a permanent resident? Come on, can’t you give a poor American a break here? In all my travels here, I’ve found Aussies to have a sense of humor. As you can see, I’ve got one too. I haven’t gone postal and shot up the place and I’ve still got a smile on my face. I’m enjoying the irony here. But, why don’t we see if we can do some of that “service” stuff you guys are so famous for. I tell you what … right next to my right hand, here on the counter, is a form for customers like me to fill out saying what a pleasant experience I’ve had. I’m filling in your name right here and I’m about to say amazing things that will wow your boss and get you that big bonus you’ve always deserved. How about it?”

“Well, I guess I can put the motel address in as your residence, and maybe the computer won’t reject you for having the car less than 90 days. What say we start the process and see how far we get. OK?”

Fifteen minutes and $304 dollars later, I had new tags for the car.

Tomorrow, I go to the car lots again and see if I can unload the Falcon with all this “value added.”

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