Authorities warn Kansans about purchasing cars online
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - If you are in the market for a new or used car, you know it’s a tough market out there. It all dates back to the pandemic.
We have a KAKE On Your Side warning from a Wichita woman who says you need to be careful when buying a car online.
In December 2021, Brigittina Chen totaled her car and came down with COVID, all at the same time. She needed something to drive to work immediately, so she went online to a company called Vroom.
"It was pretty easy,” said Brigittina Chen. “They deliver the car to your driveway."
The Jeep Wrangler came with a 60-day temporary tag while she waited on the title.
"They cannot provide the title,” said Chen. “They kept giving me temporary tags. They gave me three temp tags. After that, there are no more tags. You just cannot drive."
Nine months later, while she continued to make payments on the car, it sat in the garage while she waited.
"So, we have people going three months, six months, without a title," said Consumer Protection Assistant District Attorney Jason Roach.
Assistant Sedgwick County District Attorney for the Consumer Protection Division Jason Roach says Chen isn't alone. His office is getting similar complaints about online car dealers.
"If they go and buy a car online or auction, that transaction has created a period before they receive a title from the people, they bought the vehicle from," said Roach.
Titles are delayed across the country. Angry customers in Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas, and Georgia have filed class action lawsuits against online car dealers including Vroom.
In each case, the suits claim deceptive practices in promising a clear title, when in fact the lawsuit says, the dealer doesn't have one before selling the cars.
"So, they have a brand-new vehicle or a used vehicle sitting in the driveway and they can't do anything with it,” said Roach.
Roach and the district attorney's office stepped in to help Chen.
Finally, after 10 months of frustration, Vroom bought the jeep back and compensated her for riding-sharing expenses and insurance payments.
Now, she drives a brand-new Bronco she bought from a local dealership and she has the title.
“I'd say it's always better to go buy your car in person at the dealer than to order online," said Chen.
The District Attorney’s office says it’s always better to buy local. You can test drive the car and take it to a mechanic for an inspection.
Vroom responded to our request for an interview by saying, “We did not get the sale of this vehicle right for Ms. Chen and regret that she did not have the positive experience Vroom strives to deliver. We have worked with Ms. Chen to resolve her situation fully.”