Woman sues car dealer over repossession, un-refunded down payment

Updated: Aug. 16, 2018 at 10:43 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield woman says a used car dealership threatened to repossess her newly purchased vehicle and is keeping her down payment.

She thought the car was hers, but then several days later she got a call from the dealer telling her to bring it back or it would be repossessed.

Yes Auto Sales is saying no. It won't refund Tryphena Whitfield's down payment, claiming she and her co-signer did not complete a job verification form. Whitfield says the form is a ruse to keep her money.

Whitfield showed the receipt and the buyer's contract for her purchase.

"On our end, me and the co-signer we've done everything they've asked - everything," Whitfield said. "We stayed there six and a half hours at that car dealer making sure that we had everything that they asked for."

Whitfield said Yes Auto Sales accepted her down payment and approved the financing. She drove off the lot in a 2011 Nissan Rogue on June 25.

Then, a week and a half later, she returned it after receiving threatening calls and text messages from Yes Auto Sales.

"I feel robbed, I feel cheated and then on top of that I have to go to my doctors and my therapist." Whitfield said. "I have to pay people to take me to my appointments."

For two weeks, attempts to track down the income verification form have failed.

"They're trying to make an excuse to keep my money," Whitfield said. "They got verification."

Yes Auto Sales' director of operations Amon Hamad said refunding Whitfield's money would mean going out of business.

"The reason we cannot give her $2,000 back, because if we did that to everybody we would be out of business first of all," Hamad said. "She just put 3,200 miles on our vehicle."

Whitfield disputes that. She said the vehicle had 67,000 miles when she bought and 68,000 when it was returned.

Hamad said the financing company, United Auto Credit, is responsible for the mix-up.

"You know what she did when she came in here? She cried. She wanted to keep her car," Hamad said. "Then, give me the damn piece of paper. We don't want it. We don't need the piece of paper. Send it to United Auto Credit. They can tell us to release the car. They're the ones who told us to get the car back."

Neither the finance company's regional representative nor its lawyer has produced the form, despite multiple requests. United Auto Credit's attorney said she would return a call, but that hasn't happened. The same goes for the company's district manager.

Whitfield's co-signer said he presented pay stubs and his employer's human resources person even had several conversations over the phone verifying his employment there.

"I want to say yes they need to give me my money back or continue with the car," Whitfield said. "They can't keep them both."

The law may just be on Whitfield's side. A paragraph in the sales contract states if the dealer does not return your down payment when the vehicle is returned, the dealer may be liable to you under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Hamad said this has never happened before, and pointed to a sign saying there are no refunds. Whitfield said the sign wasn't there when she bought her car.

"Everybody can get into a car here. Guaranteed approval," Hamad said. "How long do they keep the car? As long as they don't lie, forever."

Wednesday, Whitfield went to Chesterfield General District Court and filed a warrant in debt against Yes Auto Sales and Hamad. She's suing for the down payment plus the $56 cost of the summons.

The case is pending before a judge.

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