My wife was scheduled to retire from work in Mid-May and we planned to use some of the severance money she received to purchase a fifth wheel trailer and a truck to haul it with, and do some extensive traveling around the country.
On February 18, 2013, after two days of looking at the trailer inventory of McMahon's RV Center in Colton, CA we settled on a 2012 Winnebago, Raven that appeared to meet our requirements. Chris King, the sales representative for McMahon's came down to a price of $35,486.00 and agreed to make all of the necessary repairs to the unit and to install a mid-level electric generator at no additional cost, and to deliver the trailer to our house in Riverside on April 1st. We agreed to put a $500 deposit down for them to hold the trailer for us after Chris assured us that if anything went wrong with the financing, and we could not get the trailer, the $500 would be returned to us. On the other hand, if the financing went through the $500 deposit would be used toward the down payment. The entire agreement was contingent on McMahon's ability to arrange for financing of the full amount and the financial arrangements had to stipulate that we would not have to make our first payment on the unit for 90 days. After reaching the above mentioned terms, Chris King walked us across the street to McMahon's finance office and introduced us to Zachariah Hilbert, the finance manager who would take the responsibility of helping us through the document preparation, and the person who would arrange the financing for this purchase.
Following the calculations required to complete the financial documents it was determined that we would pay another $5,500, in addition to the $500 deposit, for a total down payment of $6000. With the requisite document processing charges, taxes, assorted registration, license and other fees, the final total to purchase the trailer came to $41,486. Minus the $6,000 down payment, this left $35,486 that, by the terms of the agreement, McMahon's had to find financing for. Zachariah Hilbert (Zach), assured us that the financing would be approved. We agreed to return in two weeks with the remaining $5,500 and in the meantime, Zach would find a financial institution willing to carry the loan. The $500 deposit was charged against my ATM card and I still have the reciept from McMahons.
On March 2, 2013, as promised, we returned to McMahon's finance department with a check drawn on our account for the sum of $5,500. In addition to the $500 deposit we had already paid this would make up the total down payment of $6,000. However, when Mr. Hilbert brought out our file to show us the loan approval it was discovered that the finance company had only agreed to cover $24,000 of the full amount and that they wanted us to begin making payments immediately rather than giving us the 90 day grace period we had agreed to. Zach told us that he would call the financial institution when they opened on Monday (March 4, 2013), and get them to agree to finance the full purchase price minus the down payment we had given them. He also stated that he could work around the portion of the agreement that stipulated 90 days without payments by having McMahon's give us the money for the first three months payments. He stated that he would contact us the following week after he had secured the corrected approval and we would arrange a time to meet so that we could finalize the remaining arrangements.
We did not hear from Mr. Hilbert on the following Monday, neither did we hear from him on Tuesday, or Wednesday. On Thursday, March 7th, Mary called Zach's office at McMahon's and left him a message requesting him to contact her about the financing. Mr. Hilbert did not return this phone call. The following Monday, March 11th, she again tried to contact Mr. Hilbert at his office, and once again, she left him a message requesting that he contact her with his results on the financing. Once again, Zach Hilbert did not return her call. We let a few days go by, and then on March 13, 2013, I sent an email to both Zach Hilbert and Ryan Slaughter in the finance department at McMahon's. The email I sent can be read below:
"It has been a few weeks since we dropped off the final part of the down payment and we have not heard anything regarding the financing (or anything else). Furthermore, the last time I checked our account the check that we gave you for $5,500 has not been cashed or deposited and the money is still in our account. What is going on with this?"
By way of response, Ryan Slaughter, also a Finance Manager at McMahon's contacted Mary by cell phone and advised her that Zach Hilbert had been away on vacation and that he was scheduled to return to work on Friday, March 15, 2013, and that he would have him contact her at that time. Despite these assurances, Mr. Hilbert did not contact either of us by cellphone or by email on Friday the 15th of March. We had both reached the conclusion that Zach was avoiding us because he had not been able to get the approval for the loan. This speculation appeared to be more valid than not when we received the Equal Credit Notice from Marine One Acceptance Corporation to the effect that McMahon's RV Center in Colton had contacted them about the possibility of them accepting our debt obligation for the cost of the trailer, and that Marine One declined to agree to the financing. We continued to try contacting Zach Hilbert by phone over the course of the next eight days without results. Considering the obvious fact that the finance manager who was directed to arrange financing for our trailer purchase was blatantly and purposely avoiding contact with us, and had successfully avoided all contact with us, despite our repeated calls and emails, for a period of twenty-two days, we felt entirely justified in our belief that Zach Hilbert had failed to secure approval for the financing we needed under the terms of our agreement and that he did not want to admit to this failure. With Mary's retirement date now much closer we decided to notify McMahon's that since they had not met the terms of the agreement we had made we would like to have the $500 deposit and the check for $5,500 returned to us, and we would look elsewhere. To this end I sent the following email to both Zachariah Hilbert, and to Ryan Slaughter on Sunday, March 24, 2013.
As a result of the failure to secure financing for the full amount due on the 2012 Winnebago Raven (VIN# 54CBAOS21C1993088) by you and/or the finance department of McMahons RV Center - Colton, as per the terms of our agreement signed on February 18, 2013, we are requesting that the $500 deposit charged to our ATM card, and the check for $5,500 be returned to us immediately. Please direct any questions regarding this communication to me personally at (562) --- - ----. Thank you.
Nine days after I sent the above letter we still hadn't heard anything from McMahon's so on April 2, 2013 I decided to drop in on their Colton facility and have a talk with Zach Hilbert. Unfortunately, his office was empty, Ryan Slaughter was nowhere to be seen and while I waited for either of them to show up for 30 minutes, nobody stopped by and I eventually gave up and went home. However, that same day Mary called and said that someone from McMahon's had called her cellphone and left a message. She forwarded that voice mail to my phone. The message was from Chuck, a McMahon's employee working at the Colton facility. In this voice mail he made the following statement:
"Yeah, Hi Mary, this is Chuck at McMahon's RV. Mary, give me a call if you get some time, call me on my cellphone 951--- ----. I'm just trying to figure out where we're at, I know there was an issue with you on some money coming in or whatever, I just want to make sure that we move on the right track here so if you give me a call and just give me an update I would certainly appreciate it and we'll sort it all out. Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of your day, Bye."
On the morning of April 3, 2013 I returned Chuck's phone call. After I introduced myself to him he started in with a similar statement of purpose to the one he left in his voice mail. I told him that there was a lot more going on than he knew about and proceeded to unload on him the chronology of events up to this point in time. I explained that there was no wait initiated on our behalf regarding money coming in. The agreement was that McMahon's would finance the purchase price minus the down payment and arrange that financing so we didn't have to make payments for three months. Furthermore, that we became aware of Zach's trouble securing the necessary financial arrangements since we dropped off the remaining $5,500 of our down payment on March 2nd, and that while he had assured us that the problem would be taken care of quickly, we had heard nothing from him since. He had not returned any of our calls and he had not responded to our emails. After a month with no response from McMahon's, we figured that they could not fulfill the terms of the agreement, our deal with them was dead in the water and we wanted our deposit back so we could move on and find a trailer elsewhere.
After listening to what we had been through with Zach Hilbert and the McMahon's finance department, Chuck sounded upset, and explained that over the last month they had been told repeatedly that this sale was progressing nicely, that the loan had been approved and everything was in order. The only thing they were waiting on was for us to get the severance check and call them to request delivery. Furthermore, he said that he completely understood our frustration and did not blame us for requesting our deposit back. He stated that this was not the first time he had heard of their customers getting frustrated to the point of canceling agreements because the people in the finance department wouldn't return their calls, and that their sales staff had been hurt more than once by the finance department's nonchalant attitude towards customer communications, specifically their failure to return customer's phone calls. At the conclusion of our conversation Chuck said that he was going to see to it that the cancellation letter was sent out and our deposit was returned. Additionally, he stated that he would call me back as soon as he had spoken with everyone and let me know what was going on.
About an hour or two after speaking with Chuck, I got a call from Chris King. The primary purpose of his phone call was obviously to save the commission he expected to get from the sale. Initially this call was a bit confusing because Chris thought that we had the trailer in our possession but once I cleared that up he explained that there was a pissing match going on between himself and Zach Hilbert in the finance department. He said that Zach had intentionally been going out of his way to frustrate Chris's customers by not returning their phone calls, and that when those customers canceled their purchase agreements Chris would not get paid. He said that this was not the first time this had happened and that he had talked to his dad (Phil, the general manager at the Colton facility) about it and Zach was going to be reprimanded for his actions. He said that the loan had been been approved and he could have us in the trailer of our dreams if we wanted to go through with the purchase. I told him that there was no possible way, we were finished with McMahon's and just wanted our deposit back. He said he would contact the fiance department and arrange to have the deposit returned to us.
Chuck did not call us back as he said he would and neither of us heard anything from McMahon's regarding this matter. On April 11th I sent an email to Chuck telling him it had been eight days since we talked, that we had not received our deposit back, and that I wanted him to contact me if there were any problems with getting this done. He did not respond.
On April 16th I called Chuck's cell phone to find out what was going on with the return of our deposit. Chuck began to tell me that I should contact the finance department to find out what they knew about the matter, but then he stated that he was not the one who wrote the checks around there, and if I wanted to know what was happening I should contact Phil King, the general manager.
After hanging up from talking to Chuck I called the telephone number that he had given me for Phil King. Phil is the General Manager of the Colton Facility and the father of Chris King the sales representative that we dealt with. After being connected I introduced myself and explained that I was calling to see about the return of my deposit. He adamantly advised me that the deposit would not be returned because I did not follow through with the agreement I had made with them to purchase the Winnebago Raven. He said that they had gotten the approval and had contacted me about a month earlier to get us in and finish the deal so we could take the trailer home and I blew then off asking for more time. Furthermore, it seemed apparent that he had not been advised of any of the problems we had had with the finance department, nor had Chris talked to him about the problems he was having with Zach or the part those problems played in our decision to cancel the agreement. Admittedly, I got a little hot about the unreasonable view he expressed and told him that if I had to I would take the matter to small claims court, and unfortunately the conversation fell apart from there.
I had sent Zach Hilbert an email on the 13th telling him that as a result of their failure to secure financing and to maintain even minimal communication with us we felt the agreement had already been canceled, so whether or not the finance department secured the loan approval on March 14th really doesn't matter, and besides that, they never bothered to let us know about the approval (if they even had it). The first I knew about the approval that McMahon's allegedly received was when I talked to them over the phone on April 3, 2013. Phil King's comment about them getting in touch with us was patently untrue. The last contact that I or my wife had with McMahon's was when we took them the check for $5,500 on March 2nd, and then after my email to Zach on the 13th we heard from Ryan Slaughter who said that Zach would call us next Friday, which he didn't do. We never spoke to anyone from McMahon's about the allegedly approved financing (that we knew nothing about) and we certainly never asked for more time because we were waiting for money. The down payment had already been made so all of the money that needed to change hands had already been taken care of if the financing was approved and if that is the story that Phil got from Zach and Chris King then he should be asking himself why we would put off closing the deal when we had already made the full down payment.
As a last ditch effort, I sent Chris King an email requesting that he do the right thing and go tell his Dad (Phil King) the same thing that he told me about Zach trying to mess up his sales intentionally. I reasoned that if Phil knew about this he would understand that the failure of the sale was not our doing and he would send us the deposit back. I also told Chris that, since my cell phone automatically records every call, that I had a copy of what he had said and if he didn't tell his dad, I would. In typical McMahon's fashion, he didn't respond to me.
In my mind there is no possible way that McMahon's can feel justified about not returning my $500 deposit. After thirty days of repeated calls and emails to their finance department trying to find out what is going on with our purchase and getting absolutely no response whatsoever, we were entirely justified in our cancellation of the deal. We are not required to wait indefinitely while the unresponsive McMahon's finance department finally decides to contact us about our purchase. Furthermore, we are not obligated to be made pawns in the internal problems between McMahon's sales personnel and their finance department, and when those problems leave us in the dark without a word about our intended purchase for more than a month, we are justified in canceling the deal, and McMahon's, realizing that we canceled as a result of problems caused by their own internal politics and interdepartmental bickering, should return our deposit.
McMahon's decision to not return my $500 deposit is a reprehensible act of fraud perpetrated by a finance department made up of liars, a sales staff that includes at least one pathological liar, and a business manager who is not above stealing a customers deposit to enrich himself and to keep his dishonest son from going nuts on the lying weasels in the finance department.