Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Help Me Howard: Alleged Bad Car Dealer
When you trade in a car, usually the dealer pays the finance company or bank any money that is owed- it's part of the deal. But what happens to you if the dealer takes the car, and doesn't pay it off. Do you have to pay for a car you don't even own anymore? It's why one woman called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Phelecia is one of the people you trust with your child every day.
Phelecia Thomas Bass, Trade-In Trouble: "I love teaching. I love teaching."
Phelecia loves teaching but is smart and realizes it's a risky time to be a teacher.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "Being in education, we have seen teachers be laid off and so many different things taking place I decided I would start downsizing. Just in case my ticket comes up, I'll be ready."
So Phelecia traded in her 2008 Honda Accord for this much cheaper 1999 Isuzu Rodeo.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "This is the contract Soly B's."
The dealer agreed to pay off the money still owed on the Honda.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "I felt really good when I drove off."
That was in November. Without a big car payment, Phelecia was happy. Then January rolled around and American Honda, who had financed the car she traded in, gave her a call letting her know she had missed a car payment.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "So I explained to the representative that I had sold the vehicle."
But the dealer had not paid off the finance company and Phelecia found out the dealership had gone out of business and a new dealership had opened up in the same spot.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "And the new owner said, 'I have nothing to do with that. I did not even own the business at that time.'"
Phelecia called Mark, the man who had said he owned Soly B's- the old dealership.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "'Oh well I don't own that company any more. You need to take that up with the new owner.'"
There is a phrase for what Phelecia was going through.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "Ping pong. Back and forth, back and forth."
Stuck in the middle- Phelecia, who was hearing from the finance company, 'You need to pay for this car.'
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "It's like, is this really happening?"
Well Howard, a used car dealership took in Phelecia's car and agreed to pay it off. Now the car is gone and it's not been paid off. Got an answer?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes. In some cases, one person will sell used cars under another dealer's license. The law would call that car salesman an agent but in the eyes of the law, the owner of the license is responsible for what the car salesman said and did. So the license holder has to pay off Phelecia's car, or risk their license."
This is so complicated I could take a week and not explain it all. But the short version- a dealer named Mark was operating Soly B's under another dealer's license. That license holder found out what Mark was doing he threw him out.
We tracked Mark down where he is now working. That dealer said Mark was busy and could not talk to us.
Back at the original location, J & B Motors has opened. The new dealer, Chris Monticello told me, since the car was sold under his license, he would have to pay it off even though he did nothing wrong. And give Chris credit. This check for $12,000 was mailed to the finance company, finally paying off Phelecia's car.
Howard Finkelstein: "How do you know a car you traded in is paid off? The law gives them 10 days to do it. In the meantime contact the lender, give them the name and number of the person who will be paying off the car. Also ask them to notify you if it's not paid off on time so you can take actions to protect yourself."
With the car paid off Phelecia can now relax and try to forget what she went through with the used car dealer.
Phelecia Thomas Bass: "I am just so appalled at the whole thing. It's unbelievable."
Patrick Fraser: "And if you have a problem with a car dealer, file a complaint with the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Their contact information is on our website at wsvn.com under Help me Howard. Fortunately it all turned out ok with Phelecia, although she does need to send a letter to the three credit bureaus explaining that it was not her fault that the car was not paid off in time."
Ready to trade a problem for a solution? We've got a dealer for you. Contact us. Hopefully we can come up with a pay off in time for you.
If you would like to file a complaint with Florida's Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, visit:
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: email@example.com (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org