I, as well as many others, have had a severe issue with Westlake Financial. I would love to be a part of this class action lawsuit, as I have found some very interesting information while researching my own account with this so-called company. My story is as follows:
I purchased my vehicle from a "buy here, pay here" dealership in 11/10. I was told if I made regular payments for 6 months to the dealership, they would try and get me approved through a finance company for the remainder of
the loan to help build my credit. I made each and every payment before the due date of the 6th of each month and my account was outstanding with the dealership.
On 4/11/11, Westlake Financial mailed out about 5 letters to me. All the letters and billing statements said I owed up to $1,500 on the vehicle, and the final letter said my account was ready to be sent for repossession. The day after I received those letters, I got a "Welcome" letter from Westlake, stating that they had purchased the vehicle loan from the dealership. I immediately called the dealer because I was not notified that the account was bought by another
company. When I stated what was in the statements and letters, the owner requested I bring the letters to him. I took these things to the dealership, they verified that Westlake bought the account, and he verified that all my
payments were in order. He also noticed that none of the amounts added up correctly or matched, showed concern about that, and promised to contact Scott who was their account manager at Westlake.
I, in turn, went home and contacted Westlake myself, to be sure the dealer made his follow-up call, as well as ensure my vehicle would not be repossessed because of an error no one could explain. I spoke with a representative who
stated that I only owed the payment for 4/11, but I would need to make that immediately or they would repossess my vehicle. I explained to her that I had already paid the dealer that payment, had the receipt in my hand, and that the
dealer was on standby to verify that information. She then said that they could not contact the dealer, and it was my responsibility to pay Westlake immediately, then recover my payment from the dealer. I attempted to very
nicely explain to her that I was not going to pay 4/11's payment twice, and that they needed to collect it or contact the dealer. I then hung up, and after several repeated attempts of calling back and speaking to a supervisor (which
none of the reps would allow), someone finally transferred me.
I spoke with an account supervisor named Veronica, and as much as I loathe about everyone in this company, I have to admit she was very kind and helpful. She told me my account was nowhere near delinquent enough to warrant a
repossession, and asked me to fax her the receipt I had for the 4/11 payment. She said that she would retract the late fee that was applied, and be sure to credit my account accordingly the moment she got the fax. For the most part,
that is what happened, however, she took a week to bring the account to current, and I received about 3 to 5 phone calls from collections reps requesting this payment. After explaining it once or twice when they called and them telling me I was lying to them, I quit answering the phone when their number showed up. I did have to call Veronica more than once to check on whether or not my account had been updated. Once those calls started coming from the collection reps, I left her a voicemail stating that if my vehicle was repossessed because of this, that they would no longer have to worry about whether or not I paid, because they would be the ones paying for my vehicle after I file a lawsuit. Within the next 24 hours, the account was corrected and the calls stopped.
On 5/1/11, I was moving from CA back east to be near my father who is very ill with cancer. I mailed a money order to them, and never heard from them during that month.
On 6/3/11, I decided I would start using the online payments, so that I would have a double record of payments. When I tried to log on to my account, the site stated I did not have an account with Westlake Financial. Confused, I called
them. The gentleman I spoke to (his name eludes me, but he was fairly pleasant) told me that the account was paid off by the dealer on 6/2/11. I asked him how that could be, and he apologized, saying that was the only information they
were able to give me. I then called the dealership, who told me they had no idea of what I was talking about, and they would check it out and call me back, but they never did. I attempted to pay again on 6/15/11, thinking that
something must have been resolved at this point, but Westlake again told me they no longer held this account. Upon trying to call the dealer again, I got no response, nor have I received a response what-so-ever from the dealership since
6/3/11, when they told me they would return my call.
On 7/1/11, I attempted this again, making an effort to pay on my vehicle. I got the same response from Westlake Financial, that they no longer had investment interest in my vehicle. No response from the dealership either. At this point,
I gave up trying to contact them. I put a change of address in at the post office, and both companies had my correct phone number. I held the money, knowing that eventually this "mistake" would resurface, and I would be prepared.
It is now 01/24/12, seven months since I have heard anything about the vehicle. I spent a lot of the money I had put away for the vehicle payment each month because of costly medications and extra expenses for my father. Now that my
taxes are almost ready to come in, I thought it would be a good time to try to straighten this out again.
I called Westlake, and am still told the vehicle was paid off by the dealer on 6/2/11, and that on 6/10/11, the lien on the title under my name was released from Westlake. Out of curiosity, I ask them to be sure, whose name is on the title.
A very nice man in the Title Department named Giovanni told me the title was in my name and that he will mail the lien release paperwork for my records. So, I again try and call the dealership and get nothing.
At this point, I am at wits end of figuring out what is going on, so I decide to call CA DMV and see what they might tell me. The representative asks me for the license plate and VIN number for my vehicle. Then she says, "what was your
name again?" I tell her, and she pauses for a moment and says, "you're listed as a previous owner of the vehicle, but not the current owner." At this point I make her repeat herself because I think my ears had some sort of nervous breakdown. She then asks if the vehicle is in my possession, and I tell her that it has been since the day of purchase, which confuses her more and she gives me more information to try and help clarify this slowly growing disaster.
The information she shared with me I thought was impossible to be true. She informed me that on 4/6/11, the very same
day that Westlake Financial acquired this account, is the day the owner information was changed at DMV. The registered owner is not the dealership, although they still show as the lien holder on the current title, and the owner is not Westlake Financial, but a private person just like myself. This vehicle was transferred to another person on the very same day the Westlake bought the account.
In my hand, I have my renewal registration that I paid for on 3/1/11, that was in effect as of 4/14/11 to 4/14/2012, which apparently a useless piece of paper now.
I have spent 9 hours today on the phone in an attempt to come to some type of conclusion or a step towards a resolution, only to continue to be empty handed. I now have a vehicle that paperwork-wise I have no investment or ownership in, even though I have every agreement and document sitting in front of me, including the original dealer
paperwork. The interesting piece of information I was able to find out, is that it's not a simple error, such as
someone putting my name on another vehicle, and someone else's name on mine, because DMV did a search for vehicles registered under my name and there are none. In addition, I called a police department, (who really is not supposed to give this information over the phone, but when I explained the whole situation I guess they figured I had to be real
because no one could ever make this up), and they confirmed that the vehicle has not been reported as stolen, so the person that "owns" my vehicle is riding in a vehicle with a VIN number that doesn't match. My question is, does this person know and the entire transaction was illegal? Or is this person an unsuspecting, innocent party who will get the news much later down the road and be as lost as I am?
Keep in mind, I never knew Westlake Financial would take over my account, and I was never notified by the dealer that the account was under new ownership. There is nothing in my paperwork even making a mention of the company, and once I brought all my discrepancies to the dealer, they began ignoring my calls and avoided me like the plague. Do they know what's going on here? Are they a willing part of it?
I also wonder if this same situation has not happened to others. I saw so many reviews stating illegal repossession and Westlake refused to return the vehicle. These innocent people had already lost their vehicle, so they wouldn't bother to call DMV, most likely, and have the records checked. I, on the other hand, still have possession of the vehicle, was attempting to try and set up a way to fix what I thought was the confusion, and had no choice but to contact DMV since my registration expires in just under 3 months. I wonder if I had stayed in the local area, and not moved back east, if
the same would have happened to me as it did all these other innocent folks? I never would have called DMV to
check info if they'd repossessed my vehicle, I would have had no reason to.
The point I am at now is waiting until tomorrow when a woman from the Special Processing Department of DMV follows up with me once she is able to pull the micro film of the transactions that took place leading up to my name being
removed from the vehicle. From there I should have a clearer picture of how this happened. She also advised me to have an officer come out and "Certify" that the vehicle I have is truly the match for my paperwork. An officer came out this evening, ran my plate 3 times through dispatch who then told him my tags came up under no one's name. He did not run the VIN because he said I needed to request the theft department come out to check the hidden VIN numbers that are not so easy to change. He said the police wouldn't bother me if I were to continue to drive the vehicle if this isn't resolved by 4/12, because I have paperwork that seems to match the vehicle and no one else's name is associated with the plate. However, as of April, if something isn't done, this vehicle will be no more than a glorified lawn ornament.
I think that everyone who has had dealings, especially if their vehicle has been newly repossessed, with this fraud of a company should call CA DMV at 1-800-777-0133 and ask them to confirm that you are the registered owner of the
vehicle. If more people are found to be in the same situation I am, maybe we can finally put a stop to this.