I purchased a car through AmeriCredit Financial Services in October of 2002. As a single mother, I tried to keep the monthly payments in a range that would fit into my budget. Bouts with unemployment and family emergencies cause me to fall behind in my payments. I was contacted by AmeriCredit repeatedly. Every time I would offer to send a payment by mail, they would tell me that isn't good enough and would tell me I must make my payments via Western Union which costs an extra $13-$14.
My last payment, which was made less than one month ago, was made online through their website. Some days later I attempted to make another payment though their website and I was blocked from doing so. Upon leaving my home this past Tuesday, I walked outside to find my car was not parked where I had left it. I knew it wasn't stolen because I live in a very small and quiet neighborhood. I am also yards away from the police station.
I immediately called AmeriCredit and spoke to a customer service representative that almost instantly asked me if I was still in possession of the vehicle. I told her no of course and she proceeded to tell me my account was in collections and there was nothing she could do for me. I would have to speak to someone in the "Reinstatement Department." I asked her if she could at least tell me where the vehicle was taken to. She Gave the name of their recovery agent, ANS Recovery.
I was transferred to the reinstatement department only to get a voice mail system. I grew angry when the voice on the other end told me it could be 24 hours before some one would get back to me. That gives 24 hours for them to add on more fees and charges. Well There were things inside the car I needed in order to function in my everyday life.
I had a friend drive me to the lot where the car had been towed. I arrived at the window and was asked to sign a notice stating I was retrieving my personal items. The inventory was not detailed and was very generic. When I got to the gate of the tow yard, I was told I had to turn over the keys of the car. I asked why was this necessary especially when I intended to get the car back. They told me it was their policy and I could not get my personal items unless I gave up the key.
I contacted AmeriCredit and they informed me this was true. So with reluctance, I gave up the key to the car. My personal belongings were then brought to me in two large and very heavy trash bags. I asked the man who brought them to me if he would help me to carry them to my friend's vehicle because they were heavy and I am a small woman, his reply to me was, "I am lazy." His rudeness added insult to injury and added fuel to the fire that was an already frustrating situation.
I expressed to the finance company my concerns about where the vehicle had been towed to. Irvington New Jersey is known to be the car theft capital of the United States, among other things. I feared for the safety of the vehicle and the stereo I had installed about 1 year ago.
A customer service representative at AmeriCredit by the name of Anne argued with me and assured me, "Their agents do not steal." I told her for all of our sakes I certainly hope not. The woman at the window of ANS towing told me vehicles with nice stereos get put on the auction block quick because they can get more for the car based on the stereo alone.
After numerous attempts, I was finally able to reach someone in the Reinstatement department. I asked how much it would cost to get the vehicle back and he told me it would be $1354.00. That price would cover all the past due payments, late fees, repossession charges and other fees. I was told ANS would hold the vehicle for 3-5 days after which the vehicle would be sent to an auction house unless AmeriCredit advised them otherwise. I thanked the man from whom I got the information.
I was told the amount that I was quoted did not include the fees ANS would charge for storage and the amount due was only good for two weeks after which the price would go up another $250.00, my usual monthly payment. I had the money the very next day. The next morning I called ANS Recovery and Towing. I asked the young woman on the phone how much would there fees be to get the car out. She proceeded to inform me that car had been sent to auction. 24 hours had not passed and the vehicle was already at an auction ? The AmeriCredit representative told me ANS would store the car for 3-5 days.
I immediately called AmeriCredit and asked to speak with someone in the Reinstatement department. I advised them I wanted a live person because I was seeking legal action. Needless to say I was almost immediately put through to a Representative by the name of Ms. Johnston. She listened to my concerns and seemed concerned right along with me. I asked how could the towing company send a vehicle to auction without the authorization of the finance company. I also told her I had the opportunity to go through some of my personal belonging that were retrieved from the car and the faceplate, face plate case and remote control for my stereo were not among them, as well as some cash (somewhere between $5 - $10) that was not present either. All this after the rep by the name of Anne assured me their agents don't steal.
I told Ms. Johnston I thought this was all a scam to get my radio. She seemed like she wanted to help and gave me her direct extension. She told me she would call me back. In the mean time I spoke with the so called owner of ANS Towing and he informed me that he over heard me saying I wasn't coming back for the car so when the auction truck came, my car went. I never said no such thing! He informed me the car was at an auction house by the name of Adessa and it was 12 miles away from Irvington NJ.
Adessa Auction house is located in Manville NJ. It is a town I have never heard of and seeing as how it is located in Somerset county NJ and Irvington is located in Essex county NJ I am sure it is more than 12miles away.
When Ms. Johnston called back, her entire attitude had changed. No longer was she sympathetic and helpful, she was now rude and argumentative. She gave me the number to the Adessa auction house and informed me that If I wanted the vehicle back I would now have to pay $1428.00 to cover the cost of the transportation fees from ANS to Adessa. I though this was completely unfair and I saw it as a scam to not only rob me of the vehicle I had been making payments on for the past 4 years but to also get my stereo system as well as get as many "miscellaneous fees" out of me as possible. I was also informed by the so-called owner, "Joe" that Adessa does not charge storage fees.
Well I called Adessa and I spoke to a woman by the name of Donna. She informed me that the fact that the car was sent to her facility so quickly was very odd and Adessa's fees were $10 a day for storage as well as a redemption fee. By 4:30 PM the vehicle had not even been added to the Adessa inventory, Donna called me back about half of an hour later and advised me the vehicle was there but the face plate was missing from the dashboard and no remote control or case were present.
Now I have to back track a little. I was told by AmeriCredit and ANS that anything attached to the car belonged to the car and anything that was not attached to the car was my personal property and was to be returned to me. 2000 Ford Focuses do not come with face plates, cases or remote controls. Those items were loose as well as the cash in the ashtray and should have been returned to me but they were not. A few of my CD's were not returned to me either.
Well I called AmeriCredit and they told me they were not responsible for my personal property. I called ANS and told them Adessa advised me the stereo equipment was not in the car and once again the guy was rude. He advised me to file a police report with the Manville Police Dept. I advised him I would, as well as one with the Irvington Police Dept. Ms. Johnston stated she didn't know where the car was located. It could have been in either of the two locations. I told her I found it very odd that she didn't know nor did she seem to care where the car was located, especially since her company has a financial investment in the vehicle. I advised AmeriCredit I was not going to pay them one red cent until I knew exactly where the vehicle was located was assured my personal property would be in the vehicle. Ms. Johnston agreed.
I attempted to call Donna at Adessa again to no avail. That was Friday and she has yet to return my phone call. Today in Monday. Also today in the mail, I received a letter from AmeriCredit advising me they plan to sale the car in five (5) days unless I pay them $5483.80. That means in less than one weeks time, the price to get the car back went from $1354.00 to $1428.00 plus storage fees and now $5483.80. This type of activity leads me to believe it was AmeriCredit's intentions to sale the vehicle all along. They never intended for me to get it back. If they did, they never would have supported ANS' decision to have the vehicle sent to Adessa.
I am so angry right now. I don't have $5500.00 to get this car back. If I could not keep up with $250.00 per month payments, what makes them think I can give them $5500.00? I don't have a car to get back and forth to work or school and like I mentioned before, I am a single mother. I now have a repossession on my credit report that will make it virtually impossible for me to get another vehicle.
I truly believe the car will be cleaned up and sent to a dealer where some other unsuspected person will buy it or finance it and AmeriCredit will make there money back and then some. ANS or Adessa have a stereo system and mean while I have lost my sole means of transportation and my ability to provide for myself and my family is in jeopardy.
Is there someone out there that can help me? Do I have a case for some type of legal recourse? Big corporations cannot continue to get away with treating "little people" this way.
T e aries
Prospect Park, New Jersey
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