The stolen minivan saga ends… I think…

Well, as my title entry suggests, the insurance company has settled with us on the stolen minivan. Loyal blog readers will note that it’s been just short of a month since I wrote about having our minivan stolen from right out in front of our house, and the insurance company said they’d wait three to four weeks to declare it a loss. True to their word, they closed the case on Monday.

As if that shitty minivan were exercising one final curse on us from beyond the grave, there were a few problems in these last days. At first, we couldn’t find the title, and no title would have made it pretty much impossible for us to collect any settlement check. Then, once we did find it, there was an issue with my signature on the title. See, the title had my full name– Steven Daniel Krause– on it. Over the phone, the insurance person told me to sign the form (which I did), and then she told me that it had to be signed exactly as it appears on the title. Now, my signature (like most people’s signatures, I think) is essentially a scribble. To me, it means “Steven Daniel Krause,” but it’s not really recognizable as anything other than a scribble with an “S” and a “K” in it. This was something that they were all uptight about, so I had to fill out even more paperwork and “correct” my signature by providing one that was legible but, of course, not really my “real” signature. Whatever.

After the $500 deductible, we ended up getting $3500. I don’t want to complain too much because that’s about what I figure we’d get back, but it is kind of an awkward amount. If we had gotten $8000 or so for the van, we would have had enough money to go out and get a new car; if we had gotten nothing for it, then we obviously wouldn’t have been able to get anything. $3500 is a sort of problematic figure because we could probably afford to buy another “crappy” car, but could that possibly be worth it?

Instead, I think we’re going to just stick the money in the bank and wait a bit. We are both applying for different academic jobs this year, so there’s a pretty good chance (I think better than 50%, actually) that we’re going to be moving this year, and where we move will significantly alter our automotive needs. We ought to know the scoop on all that by March, and then we will make our next move.

So, lavender Plymouth Voyager minivan, the van that I generally referred to as “that piece of shit,” the minivan that had more or less become “my car” for driving around town, good riddance. When people asked me what I thought of you, I replied “never buy a Dodge minivan.” You ran like garbage for all but the last year around, and you were a freakin’ money pit, you were the product of a dealer that gauged us repeatedly, and you reward this all by being stolen and (probably) being cut up into little pieces. So I don’t want to say rest in peace; I just want to say let the curse end.

And a few lessons I’ve learned about this experience I hope to apply in the near future:

* One of my work colleagues/friends is a car enthusiast, and he told me that if you are going to buy a used car, you really have to like (if not love) the car when you buy it. That’s where we went wrong with this minivan: long story short, buying the minivan was a highly unpleasant experience, and from the very beginning, we didn’t like it and even grew to hate it.

* Don’t buy a used car from a dealer because you’re just going to get ripped off.

* Buy Honda products.

* Keep the “full insurance” until the amount you are paying for the insurance every year exceeds the value of the car.

* Never ever EVER buy a Dodge product. Icky.

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