Saturday, April 21, 2007

Possession and Ownership aka The idiot's motorcycle buyer's guide

The following can be considered as an idiot's guide to purchasing a used motorcycle. The writer does not take responsibility for idiocy greater than his.

Day 0:
Craig's list, Motorcycle, Vancouver - tab always open in Firefox. Price range $500 - $2000. Refresh every 20 minutes. Phone potentials. Fix up appointments. The urge to go for engine CC greater than 400 must be curbed (insurance premium slab is from 125CC to 400CC and from 400CC to 750CC). Sub 400CC bikes hard to be found. Found one, fixed appointment, saw bike - old and pretty rusty - wobbly too - ditch. Urge to go for >400CC bike bites again - Honda Interceptor - 500CC - V4 engine - liquid cooled - 70bhp - urge overpowering - checked out - fell in love - decision made.

Day 1 Friday:
Postponed purchase two days due to student deadlines - urge of possession high - Friday the 13th - bought the bike from a blue eyed dude called Roman - signed a transfer of ownership, paid $1100, inquired about why the papers were not in his name (owner was a Jordan Froese) - got the answer that he wanted to save on the transfer of ownership charge - was assured about smooth transfer of ownership to my name - he had called up ICBC, the regional vehicle registration authority and confirmed with them - trust - every idiot's failing - in my defense he was a blue eyed dude with an innocent baby face. Hopped on the beast to the insurance agent - found two problems - a) the vehicle registration is missing (quite an important document to miss I must say - more proof that this is the idiot's guide to not messing up) and b)The transfer of ownership copy that I had was the sellers and not the buyers. Panic! Call back Roman - no pick up. More panic - $1100 puff of smoke - returned to last known meeting place - desperation - ask people around for a Roman - made decision to drive home - problem - parking - on campus residence parking needs bike in my name - public parking @ $12 per day! 5 calls to Roman - last one threatening. He calls back - doesn't have it on him - I should have asked him if I wanted it before paying him - "You are so naive!" - says he. True, very true, but the nerve! Keep cool - need to get original of the transfer of ownership - my copy - from the bastard. Fix up a place to meet up - vivid images of blue eyed angel's nose being broken with my knuckles flash. Meet up Saturday. Blue eyed bastard hands over form - no registration - offers to try tracking down previous seller. He says 'bikes are meant to be ridden! not insured!' - for a moment all I can see is his nose and slowly moving lips - no sound - except a vague drone - closest I have come to physical violence in a very long time.

Day 2 Saturday:
Parking is priority one. Wished I were in India - find nearest alley to home and push it in there. Weekend parking @ $3.5 per day - mild relief. First decision - try selling it off without papers - over ruled suggestions of 'you got screwed - you might as well screw someone else' - put up Interceptor with incomplete papers in Craigslist ad - first ray of sunlight - lots of interested people - Dan - offers $500 for stripping into parts - provides the consoling remark - No papers? Might as well be stolen. Guy with a Filipino accent - talks about leaving country and hence need no papers - jackpot! Sees bike and says will call back - never does.

Day 3 Sunday:
More calls, voice mails - talked to a few - everyone deterred by no registration.

Day 4 Monday:
Off to ICBC, North Vancouver. My first sea bus ride - what a joy! Walk off sea bus and right into ICBC - that was pleasant - show transfer of ownership with just a name, driver's license number and postal code and put in a request for previous owner trace - very, very lucky break - owner is as listed in transfer of ownership form! Address found. Procedure for transfer to my name:
a) Send registered mail to previous owner informing him about missing registration document
b) Wait for
i) 30 days with no reply or
ii) Returned unopened registered mail or
iii) Kind previous owner sending me the registration document

Day 5 Tuesday:
Sent registered mail. Found a generous mallu friend with a free parking slot on campus - lucky break number 2.

Day 6 Wednesday:
Early morning call from Jordan Froese! Lucky break number 3. He is in Texas, his good old grandmother opened the registered mail, called his mother. Mother mails him and he generously calls me up! Faith in humanity being restored. Says he is going to England and will be back August - the end of summer. Offers to do whatever he can - the archetypal good Samaritan. Tells him thankfully that I will let him know. Hop to insurance agent - tells him the story - he calls up ICBC and repeats story - I have to get my story notarized. He gives me a document which I fill up with my story and I get it notarized. Return back to agent - 30 minutes of elevator music from a busy ICBC office - $68 and the bike is truly mine - possession AND ownership.

Recap - actual guide:
1) Check this out before you see the bike you are interested in buying:
http://www.clarity.net/~adam/buying-bike.html
I am serious - read through it and run through it with the bike. At least to some level.
2) Take the seller down to the insurance broker - DO THIS! - This is the easiest solution to avoid all this. My roomie had been with me when I went to get the bike and even though he had bought 2 bikes, he didn't know about the registration - and neither did my bike's
previous owner - because they went down with the sellers to the insurance broker. Get it
transferred into your name and then pay!
3) If you can't do that - and again it is really better if you did - you need to check for the transfer of ownership and the vehicle registration. You might also want to run the VIN (vehicle id number - found on the bike chassis) through this site
http://www.cpic-cipc.ca/English/search.cfm - to check if its stolen. That is all that is needed to save yourself the 4-5 days of torture (with lucky breaks - it might have taken a month or two - or maybe never) that I had to go through - with my dreams of riding around in a sports bike being stomped on by a blue eyed bastard.