Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bomp, Bomp ...Bomp

I ought to have known. I should have guessed. It was never going to be that easy. In the post "Counting Down" from October 2012 I referred to some of the brain-numbing bureaucracy involved in legally buying or selling a car privately in Greece. Just to recap...

To buy or sell a car in a manner which satisfies the legal requirements, the buyer and seller for each transaction have to go together to the KEP office (Citizens' Service Centre) where a number of forms are filled out and - bomp, bomp - rubber stamped by the clerk who's sitting behind the desk. Then the purchaser is assured that in a couple of weeks or so the new Registration Document for the car they've just bought will be available, for collection of course, ...none of this "coming through the mail" malarkey. If you're the purchaser, you'll already have gone to the National Bank of Greece, where you'll have told them the make, year and model of the car you're purchasing and they'll have relieved you of over a hundred Euro in cash and given you in exchange a green docket, which you'll bring with you to the KEP office to prove that you've paid the required tax. Once the seller and the purchaser have signed a half a dozen or so pieces of paper they go their weary way safe in the knowledge that they've carried out the transfer of ownership in a way that ensures that they won't get their collar felt some time in the future.

End of story? Nope. As mentioned above, it was October of 2012 when we finally parted with the Suzuki Swift that we'd been running around in ever since moving out here in 2005. We became the proud owners of a splendid Skoda Fabia after I'd made two visits to the KEP office, one with the seller of the car we were buying, the other with the bloke who bought the Swift. On both occasions I'd watched in great bemusement as the pile of papers the clerk was dealing with grew ever larger. Now, here we were in early summer of 2013 and it was time once again to go see our accountant, get him to complete a totally useless tax return and give him around €50 for the privilege, and hopefully forget all about that kind of thing until next year.

After sitting down with the accountant for a few minutes, we were just about to leave his office when I shot a parting comment to him.

"Does it have any relevance the fact that we changed the car?"

I ought to have known. I should have seen it coming, for at this the accountant's facial expression changed as he replied, "Ah, yes, well, you'll need to have filled out this 'Υπευθηνή Δήλωση' [or 'Solemn Statement']." He then bade me hang on whilst he clicked his mouse a couple of times and two sheets of paper spat out of his lazer printer. Snatching them up he thrust them at me, at the same time saying, I couldn't help thinking with a degree of amusement, "One is for you to fill out as the seller of your old car. The other has to be filled out by the person who bought it. They'll both need to be rubber stamped by either the KEP or at a local Police Station."

Right about this moment I could feel a depression coming on. "And what about the car we bought?" I asked, rather unwisely in the circumstances. See, the thing is, the seller of the Fabia had moved back to the UK last Autumn. 

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." Was his helpful reply, which, of course, implied that more shenanigans would be sure to follow. I was now faced with the task of seeing if I still had a phone number for a bloke I only met a couple of times some seven months previously, then calling him in the hope that, assuming he still liked me if the Swift was behaving itself, he'd be happy to meet up and once again go visit the KEP office together in order to get these "Solemn Statements" filled out and rubber stamped. Oh joy.

After fingering through my contacts on the old mobile phone I was at least relieved to find that the buyer's name was still in there. I called him. Now, put yourself in my place here. Have you ever sold an eleven year old car and wondered what may be just waiting to go wrong with it just minutes after the new owner had driven off into the sunset? Can you imagine what kind of feeling the person in question may have towards you if they answer their phone and find it's that git who sold them the shed that's cost them a packet on the other end; and not only that, he's asking a favour that's going to cost time and effort from which the only reward forthcoming for that buyer would be the satisfaction of knowing that they'd helped that seller (the swine!) to provide his accountant with some vital piece of paper?

To say I was a little nervous calling this bloke would be the understatement of the century. I dialled his number and awaited his answer. Soon a voice spoke, "Yes? ------ here, who is this please?"

I swallowed hard and said, "It's John. I sold you the Swift last Autumn. How're things going then?"

"Ah, ya sou John. OK thanks," at which point I managed to avoid changing the colour of my trousers. Inside I was yelling 'YES! YES! YES!' while outside I continued, pushing my luck, "And the car? Good yeh?"

"Very good John, my friend. Hey, a pipe burst in the engine bay, ...needed a few Euros spent on fixing that. But hey, it's twelve years old now. I'm not complaining. Anyway, what can I do for you?"

'You mean apart from just having relieved me of an immense amount of mental anguish' I was tempted to reply. I went on to explain how he'd need to meet me so that we could fill out these forms and get them rubber stamped at the KEP office. It wouldn't be easy, as it transpired. After all, he worked full time and I worked a few days each week. To agree a time to meet and drop by the KEP would pose a bit of a challenge.

To try and cut a "War and Peace" down to a "Mills and Boon" here, we eventually met up and tried to get the job done at the KEP office in Arhangelos, where the bloke behind the counter is marginally less helpful than a traffic warden on an off day. We failed. These "Solemn Statements" have a section where you write in all kinds of stuff like your passport number, date of birth, parents' first and second names, including your mother's maiden name, dental records (OK, so that last one is a joke, but only just) etc.. Then a little further down one has to write, in Greek, something like: "I hereby declare that I John Philip Manuel, did sell the car Suzuki Swift, registration number ------, year of manufacturer 2000 for €xxx to Mr..." ...and so it goes on.

We retired to a nearby cafe, where we both filled in all the stuff at the top, as listed above, but since we didn't have any time left as the other guy was already late for work, I promised I'd get the statements written out and then take the forms to the KEP office near me in Gennadi. My buyer had written all the relevant details in and even signed his version. Hopefully I could get them both rubber stamped (bomp, bomp) at the Gennadi Office - job done, Fait accompli as it were. The following day I strode into the Gennadi KEP office, where the young woman (I've dealt with her before) was very helpful. She even told me that it was a waste of time trying to get any help from the bloke in the Arhangelos office, since he never wants to know. Once she'd satisfied herself that the forms were in order, out came the ink pad and rubber stamp and she bomped away on my version of the form and passed it to me saying, "There you are, yours is done."

"And the other one? You couldn't just stamp that for me too?" I gingerly requested.

"Aah, no sorry. The signatory has to be present I'm afraid." Seeing my face drop about a metre or so, she added, "...but you can go with him into the Police Station. They'll do it in minutes. It's all ready, just needs the person to be present."

I did venture the question too, as to why didn't they tell us at the KEP office when we'd done the transfer of the vehicle, that we were going to need these "Solemn Statements" too. The answer, rather unsurprisingly was, "Well, you didn't ask. Anyway, we don't require them, it's the accountants who do."

So, here I was last week, trying once again to get the Swift's buyer to meet me, this time outside the Police station, to get this wretched piece of paper rubber stamped. So far we haven't been able to arrange a time to suit us both. 

Meantime, I've had an email from the Fabia's seller, who's now living back in South Wales, UK. In it, apart from asking us both how we are, she told us, "I've been in touch with my Greek accountant [she still has a house out here] and he tells me that because I sold the Skoda, I need to furnish him with two Solemn Statements..."


  1. Neither Ear and Peace nor Mills and Boon but just plain funny, ha ha! Seriously though, we have friends who told us in May that one is taxed according to possessions like cars etc. They had a small car (for her) a 4WD for both of them and he has a scooter. They also had a boat. To try and reduce their tax bill they were offloading vehicles as quickly as they could, didn't want to be seen as being able to afford such luxuries! I guess they will have to account for the cash raised though, when they do their 'Solemn statements'..............

  2. Whoops, Ear and Peace?? Sorry.

    1. S'OK. I just thought it was some in-joke I didn't get!

  3. Yes, it's an audio book!