If you own an auto in Pennsylvania, once a year you must pay PennDOT to renew your vehicle registration. This fee jumped from $37 last year to $42 this year, but Google and the state share a dirty little secret that can hike your price even higher – to $55.25.
It’s called bait and switch. What you see is not what you get. And it works in this case because the state approves the misdirection and is part of the scheme.
First, you need to realize that PennDOT – although staffed with smoldering asphalt clumps that are unable to adequately repair roads or plan highways – does host a very efficient and easy to use website. You can do nearly everything but wash your car, using handy tools and credit card payments for state auto services. The site also allows you to print documents on the spot.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is what happened when I decided to register my Lamborghini Aventador S (nickname for my 2004 Hyundai Elantra). I went to Google and typed simply: renew pa auto registration.
The first two entries – bold on top – are really Google ads that otherwise look like regular results and direct you to private firms that charge you an extra $13.25 “convenience” fee. Only the third entry is the real PA DMV site, where there is no up charge.
Online Vehicle Registration Renewal for PA Drivers. Get Started Now! 24/7 Support. Online Renewal. Mobile Friendly. Fast & Easy. Types: Passenger Car, Truck, Motorcycle, Trailer.
Second result: Online Auto Registration | PA Vehicle Registration | DMV.org
Find All The Info You Need About Online Automobile Registration At DMV.ORG. License & Registration. Free insurance quotes. A smarter DMV alternative. The Unofficial DMV Guide. Services: Make Appointments, Renew License, Renew Registration, DMV Office Finder, Pay Traffic Ticket.
Renewing Your Registration Has
Never Been Easier. Get Started Now!
Replacing A Registration Is More
Simple Than You Think With DMV.ORG.
Third result: Renew Registration – DMV – PA.gov
Renewing your vehicle and/or trailer registration can, in most cases, be completed online, at any of PennDOT’s Online Messenger services or through the mail.
The top two entries have a font-size box that says “Ad” (see above) – hardly noticeable in the midst of the bold type of the first two, paid entries. The third entry, the actual DMV, is in light face type.
Wouldn’t the state of PA go after Google for putting its official , cheaper site third, and directing citizens to a site where you pay an extra $13.25 for the same registration?
Let’s suppose PennDOT actually wants to be third on the list, and make you pay more to a private firm, and Google wants results to benefit advertisers, not you..
- They would not run a Google ad, because that would allow DMV to compete fairly at the top with the private firms.
- DMV would make agreements to approve certain firms (friends?) to compete unfairly with the state and add extra fees.
Number One is obvious, and Number Two is something actually called the PennDOT Online Registration Program (OLRP), which unbelievably sets up competition to its own DMV website to benefit certain companies:
PennDOT’s Online Registration Program (OLRP) allows a contracted business to provide specific, online motor vehicle titling and registration transactions to customers. The business partner charges the normal state transaction fees plus a service fee. The business partner performing OLRP transactions can issue products immediately to the customer. For additional service locations and information for Online Registration Program agents, please reference the Online Registration Program (OLRP) Location Guide (PDF).
This same thing is happening across the nation as state DMVs are jumping on extra fee programs for their motorists.
My opinion is that the genuine PA DMV site far exceeds its for-fee competitors in ease of use and friendliness, and the private website extra charge is not justified.
Abuses like this are not accidents, but carefully orchestrated by folks like PA Governor Tom Wolf to fool you.
Sadly, those in a hurry will mistakenly allow an extra charge. Elderly and disabled may be confused and pay enough extra to purchase a year’s co-pay for some medicines on Medicare
Others may just go to the first two results and trust Google to be honest, fair and acting in the public interest. And Google’s answer to Is Google honest?
We believe you should be able to trust what you find using Google. From the beginning, our approach to search has been to provide the most relevant answers …
Judge for yourself.