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The Samoa News phones were ringing off the hook last Friday, after our new column, “The Conversation” was published for the first time. Readers were directly responding to the Office Motor Vehicles’ employees hanging up on them when they called to ask how the could get a refund from the overcharge the OMV has been doing; or to tell us that OMV employees are saying they know nothing about this ‘overcharge’ — and they should ask Samoa News.

Benjamin Hampton, who wrote the column, has responded to OMV’s request for Samoa News to explain to our readers how to get a refund or reimbursement due to OMV overcharging on vehicle registrations.

Hampton’s response:

This first Conversation implementation will not be easy. Blazing a trail through the jungle never is... The challenge both in the jungle and here is to keep on going and don't worry about how many vines are being tripped on. 

This took me (Hampton) over 18 months' work, on and off to get us here, working through each step of The Conversation framework at a time.

Now is GO TIME!

Just keep swinging the machete of truth. The machete wins over vines every time; vines of fear, vines of old thinking, even vines of cultural and political correctness that are no longer relevant.

Understand, it just takes more swings on some vines than others. For some of you, this will be the first time you've swung a machete like this. Just as in life, that machete can form blisters very easily. And blisters hurt! The key is just to keep going; ignore the pain; calluses will form; blisters no more. 

Additionally, now that there are many aware of the issue, we can each support each other, and no one person has to get worn out. Many hands make light work. There are THOUSANDS of vehicle owners on island, and only a few representatives whose job it is to serve those thousands. That is why the Fono and other officials MUST hear from you. Our voices must be united as one. 

I'm not surprised that people who showed up at the OMV last Friday have been told that there are no refunds; I told them (OMV officials/ employees) calmly many times that they needed to take this matter seriously, do the right thing and deal with it, or the end result was going to be a backlash with lots of angry people. Did they? No. 

And it's true. Refunds ARE available per the DPS, which is why I waited the 18 months to bring this situation to the attention of the public.

Now is the time to discuss what we the people want to do about this! You now know the truth. You now know that the OMV not only knew the truth, but refused to change until higher-ups at DPS made them, and that took months.

Assistant AG Adam Balinski and I worked through this via email over a period of several weeks until he also was able to officially agree that OMV was incorrect, thanked me for my notification, and instructed them to change back in April.

Did they change? No...

But, here we are in late June, and it has finally reached the point of implementation; the proper fees are now being charged for renewal. HUGE WIN!!!

Refunds are to be issued for those that inquire, per DPS... WIN again!!! 

Please remember, the way the OMV has done business has been the same for 40 YEARS; this column posted just over 72 HOURS ago...

The public's machete has just started to be swung against that vine.

KEEP SWINGING, my Friends...

Keep Swinging and ignore blisters... they will go away.