Buying a scooter without a title
When I first decided that a Vintage Vespa was the right scooter for me, I dove in to research on the various choices. There were so many to choose from, and so many on the market. I noticed that every now and again, I would come across a bike that was listed for sale without a title. Some were reasonably priced, and some were closer to market value. But without fail, there was always mention of the fact that it was simple to deal with this lack of title.
In fairness, in the state of NY, dealing with a missing title for a bike made before 1973 is pretty simple. A Bill of Sale from the owner, with the correct information, and you are off to the DMV for a successful registration, and you should be riding the scoot that afternoon. If the bike was made after 1973, and doesn’t have a title, you are in for a whole different experience.
I bring this up because there are a ton of great scooters out there that are for sale, and many are very tempting, but do not come with a title. One such bike was purchased by my friend. He bought a Vespa 1980 100 Sport that he absolutely loves. It came without a title, but he began work on the bike, knowing that eventually he would need to get that paperwork. There are a couple options available for rectifying this problem, and the one he chose has led to a clerical nightmare, that should act as a warning to those of you in the market for scooters, sans title.
One option is to travel to a state that has relaxed laws or rules regarding registering a bike in their state. In our case, the closest is Vermont. You can travel there to register the bike, get a title, and then use that paperwork to transfer the title to New York State. Of course, that requires you to travel six hours to Vermont. Since many of us who decide on a scooter for transportation, don’t have a car, this option is a bit difficult.
The other option is to use an online service, which will do basically the same procedure, but through the mail, so that you do not need to be physically present to get the proper paperwork. My friend was pointed in that direction, and ended up at http://www.its-titles.com/
Here is what happened: My friend contacted the company. He was told that the process would take place in Nevada, and that the cost would be $250. Based on the recommendations of people he trusted, this would be a fine option for him, and he was willing to spend the money, to save him a trip to the north, and to ensure that he would be riding his beloved Vespa before the seasons turned cold. Unfortunately, this is not how it went down. The promised turn-around time was 4-6 weeks. A time frame he was willing to live with. Payment was made, and he patiently (or not so patiently, but silently) waited for the paperwork to arrive in the mail. After the six weeks passed, he began calling to check on the status. The company, which now seemed to be more like one person, never answered the phone.
…18 weeks later and 1 email saying “should be soon- Nevada DMV has been slow”, then no emails, no phone calls answered, no nothing. Eventually, after many attempts at contacting the company, my friend decided it was time to dispute the charges, and get his money back (and eventually, take a long trip to Vermont!). The problem with this is that it takes upwards of 6-8 weeks for a credit card company to resolve an issue like this, so he now remains waiting for the outcome.
Let this stand as a warning to all of us that flirt with the idea of buying a non-titled scooter. There are deals to be had, but the headache doesn’t seem worth it. Might be best to wait for the scooter of your dreams, that has all the correct papers. In the end, your frustration level will be lower, even if your wallet is a little lighter.