Washington state is admitting that some veterans were wrongly charged $30 for Purple Heart license plates. The plates are a special designation for veterans who were wounded serving our country.
A few months ago, KING 5 started hearing from frustrated veterans who were seeing the new charge on their car registration. Until now, veterans were able to get two sets, with the second coming at no extra charge. But the state says now that second set will cost those vets $30.
That didn't sit well with veteran David Buckner.
“Is this their way of saying thank you?” asked Buckner, who decided to pay the extra money anyway because of how proud he was of the plates.
Recipients were not supposed to get more than one plate, the state said, but the old computer system was not able to keep records on how many were issued to specific individuals. Buckner and other veterans who contacted KING 5 said they never heard of that rule until they got a bill with the $30 charge.
The explanation didn't make sense to another veteran, Steve Harwood. He only received one set of plates, but was charged the $30.
“I only have one pair, and that's when I got more angry about it,” he said.
After KING 5 got involved, the state admitted his bill was wrong.
“I received a call from a gentleman from the state saying that they had a made a mistake,” Harwood said. Harwood will get a refund, but he worries about other vets who might not notice the mistake.
The state admits that Harwood is not the only veteran who was incorrectly billed but it was not able to say how many bills with mistakes went out. For now, the state is encouraging those who think they have a billing error to contact customer service.
Harwood is a Bellevue-based real estate broker who is passionate about helping fellow veterans navigate the housing market and get VA loans. He believes they are an underserved group and says this license plate hiccup is another burden veterans who are often reluctant to complain.
“You definitely feel like you're getting a slap in the face to get a charge like that,” he said.