ATLANTA — Carvana markets itself as an easy way to buy a car. But some customers said they ended up instead with major headaches.
Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray learned Carvana faces multiple class-action lawsuits. Metro customers told Gray buying a car was easy but getting vehicle titles from the company left some in a legal and financial mess.
Metro driver Richard Stanford waited months to get the title to his car title. When a FedEx package arrived from Carvana it wasn’t a title, but a letter telling him the company stating they no longer had the title to his vehicle. He posted about his experience on the online forum, PissedConsumer.com.
Jessaca Metz left her Ford Fusion parked for nearly a year, unable to drive it because Carvana did not provide her a title to the vehicle.
“It’s been a runaround. It’s been a disaster since I started dealing with them,” Metz said. “I mean, obviously, I kept asking them, ‘Where’s my registration?’ And they just kept telling me different excuses.”
In her Pennsylvania town, it’s even illegal to even have a car with no registration parked in the driveway.
“It’s illegal for me to have it at my house. They will tow it. So, I’ve been leaving it here. Just trying to hope that it doesn’t get taken away,” Metz said.
Stanford and Metz told Gray that they turned to Carvana because its familiar ads make the process of buying a car seem so easy. And for both, it was.
“It was just like real quick. You didn’t have to deal with the salesmen, like, kind of hounding you,” Stanford said.
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Stanford decided to return the car within the seven-day money-back guarantee and get the car he traded in back because he did not like the condition of the car’s interior.
“So I gave them a call, said I don’t want it, come pick it up and give me my truck back. OK, no problem,” Stanford said.
That was when his problems began. Carvana promised his original title would be returned in a few days. So, he went ahead and traded his car in for a BMW at a local dealer.
“They said no problem, bring us the title when you get it,” Stanford said with a bit of a laugh. “I’ve never received the title.”
Georgia Department of Driver Services even told Stanford that someone else in Arizona has applied for the title to his vehicle.
“I said, ‘How can that be? I still have the truck. It’s my truck,’” Stanford said.
The new car shortage during the pandemic and afterward was great for business for Carvana.
Carvana said it sold more than 400,000 cars in 2021, more than double its 2019 sales. But there has also been a growing number of complaints about title problems with Carvana.
“It’s a terribly egregious violation of a consumer’s rights to sell a vehicle that a consumer can’t lawfully drive,” said Philadelphia attorney Robert Cocco.
Cocco’s filed class-action lawsuit on behalf of Carvana customers nationwide.
And it’s not just title problems. In a Channel 2 investigation in 2021, we told you how someone put their picture on Corey Bennett’s driver’s license to buy a Ford Mustang through Carvana. She got stuck with the loan and a mark on her credit score.
“There was no solution, there was no resolution,” Bennet said at the time.
With its internet-based shopping and gleaming towers, Carvana looks like a whole new way to buy cars, but it’s just a spin-off from the bricks-and-mortar, traditional used-car chain DriveTime.
Carvana CEO Ernest Garcia III is the son of DriveTime founder Ernest Garcia II. The elder Garcia owns 85% of the voting shares of Carvana, according to proxy filings. In 1990, he pleaded guilty to bank fraud.
Customers don’t really care who owns what — they just want the titles to their vehicles.
“This is their fault. I followed the rules, why can’t they follow the rules,” Stanford said.
Carvana declined Gray’s request for an interview with the Garcias.
Stanford and Metz did eventually get their titles.
Carvana sent Gray a statement, saying: “We were able to assist Mr. Sanford in obtaining a new title. Carvana is proud to have sold more than 127,000 vehicles to Georgia customers.”
“It’s easy, it’s convenient. No problem if you don’t like the car, we’ll send your car back if you don’t like it,” Stanford said. “It’s just been a nightmare.”
Carvana said it has been working with several states to modernize and simplify their processes to obtain titles to vehicles.
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