Concealed weapon bureaucracy

(WSVN) - A South Florida man paid for a concealed weapons permit — not once, but twice. That led him into a bureaucratic maze. He needed help battling back, so he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Paul Kamalski retired and bought a condo on the beach, you can probably guess one reason why.

Paul Kamalski, concealed weapons fiasco: “It’s very relaxing.”

With plenty of time to relax, Paul decided to get a concealed weapons permit, took the certification class and paid the $97 fee with his credit card.

Paul Kamalski: “Ran the card through, did everything there, signed everything and then all of a sudden the screen went blank.”

He was told his payment didn’t go through and had to pay again. After he did, he got home to discover…

Paul Kamalski: “It did go through twice. [It] did go through the first time and it went through the second time, so I got double billed a $97 charge.”

Paul didn’t know it when he called the state agriculture department to let them know he had paid them twice, but he had fallen into bureaucratic quicksand…

Paul Kamalski: “The lady said, ‘We have no record of you paying at all.’ ‘Well ma’am, it’s right here on my card.'”

Paul said he sent them the proof he had paid twice. When that didn’t work, he disputed one $97 charge with Mastercard, leaving the other $97 to pay for his permit. However, the state said he can’t do that.

Paul Kamalski: “‘Well, you need to put it back on your account or we are going to charge you a $15 service fee.'”

He put that $97 back on the card. When that didn’t solve the problem, he disputed the other $97 payment and continued to sink into the bureaucracy.

Paul Kamalski: “I got a threatening letter in the mail saying that my license has been revoked, and now I owe them $112 plus service fees.”

Paul’s problem confused the state.

One internal email form the agriculture department wrote, “We now have a problem with this transaction. How do we handle this?”

Another email said Paul had made two payments and two chargebacks.

A third email said there were three $97 payments and two $97 credits.

The emails went on and on…

Paul Kamalski: “I don’t know what’s going on with Tallahassee. I have no idea.”

He expected sun in Florida, but never expected the heat from the State of Florida.

Paul Kamalski: “Now I understand why people say you can’t fight city hall.”

Well Howard, the state has Paul’s $97 but took away the gun permit he paid for. What can you do if you can’t get through the bureaucracy?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, Paul is right. The state is wrong, but this is the bureaucracy. After the state revoked his license, Paul has only one option: File an appeal in District Court of Appeals, which would require an attorney at great expense to Paul. Simply put, fighting the government is just not fair when they are wrong and don’t realize it.”

But there is another option — let Help Me Howard do the work.

I contacted the Florida Department of Agriculture, and it took a few weeks, but they did the right thing and reinstated Paul’s gun permit that he had paid for.

But their reasoning was strange. In the order, they wrote, “respondent paid the bad check in September 2018.” Except Paul paid with a credit card last December 2017.

“No matter,” Paul said. He got his gun permit back.

Paul Kamalski: “We fought city hall and won. That department of agriculture was totally messed up.”

Paul won after that call to Help Me Howard.

Paul Kamalski: “One-hundred percent, 200 percent, because without you, I would still be without a permit, be fighting them. They were gonna take me to court, they were gonna sue me. Help Me Howard, you saved the day once again.”

I wish I had a simple way to help everyone who is battling the bureaucracy, whether it’s a government agency or a large company.

One thing — there are a lot of great employees in those agencies. Keep searching until you find the right one, and if you can’t, go to your fallback plan: get in touch with us.

Armed with a problem you have been concealing? Firing blanks trying to fix it? Shoot, permit us to help. We are locked and loaded with a law book.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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