All David Lippe, 44, wanted to do was re-register his 2005 Volkswagen Jetta. But when he tried in mid-November to take care of that routine business online with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, he repeatedly got an error message.

He went through the steps about six times before finally reaching the DMV’s IT department. An employee walked him through the procedure and also got an error message. But the employee had a solution to the problem: Lippe was told to register his Jetta by mail.

Unfortunately, one entity believed his attempts had been successful—his credit card company. In fact, it showed that his car had been registered 25 times at $199 a pop. “This is potentially eating into my Christmas spending,” he says. “What if my partner doesn’t get a gift? Will the District give him a gift?”

Janis Hazel, DMV’s public information officer, says her department has no record of charging Lippe for his registration at all. Lippe counters with his credit card bill. With five days of holiday shopping left, the DMV finally cleared up the issues.

After the holiday, Lippe says he mailed in a check for his registration and now vows never to use’s services again. “This was an extremely isolated incident,” Hazel says. “We’ve not had an incident like this previously.”