INDIANAPOLIS — Dozens of customers are voicing concern after saying they purchased a vehicle online but didn’t get their title, registration or, in some cases, license plates for months.
CBS4 spoke with several people across Indiana and out of state who said they regret buying from Vroom and Carvana.
“The company they’re running is atrocious,” Michael Jergens said.
Jergens said he bought a 2018 Honda Civic from Vroom. When it arrived, he noticed something wasn’t right. He took it to two different body shops and confirmed it had been in a major front and rear-end collision, even though he said it had been sold to him as an accident-free, one-owner vehicle.
“There are clear signs of very poor repairs,” he said on camera, as he recorded video of the car.
Kayla Perez told CBS4 she paid for a 2018 Kia Sportage upfront and got it in December. She explained that when she got the vehicle, it was not drivable and had to be towed to a nearby shop.
“It came damaged,” she emailed.
In March 2022, Perez said she still hadn’t received a title for the car.
“Now, I can’t legally drive it as Geico stopped the insurance due to it not being registered in my name,” she said.
Over Zoom, Perez spoke about the emotional distress her experience has caused. She said she commutes to work every day and has a one-year-old daughter. Instead of driving, she has had to rely on trains and buses to get to work and to pick up her daughter from daycare.
Indiana buyers call CBS4 for help
Megan Edelen of Plainfield purchased her vehicle in June. She said at first, everything was great. The car was delivered within two weeks, and it looked flawless.
“Everything was in good shape and seemed to be in good working order,” she described.
Edelen ended up getting multiple temporary tags to keep her driving the vehicle legally.
“We were going through August, September, October. We keep requesting temporary tags. About October, we were like, ‘well, we were told we could only have three temporary tags,’” she told CBS4.
Edelen said she started calling and emailing Vroom, but the company kept asking her to send more paperwork.
“Every time we called, we got a new case number, and it was escalated but nothing ever came from those case numbers or escalations. Nothing was getting done,” she said.
In the middle of all of this, Edelen said Vroom accidentally sent her two other customers’ files. Inside the packets of information were random titles, bank account information and more. She was stunned.
Edelen started to wonder if anyone else was experiencing the same thing. She went online and found a Facebook group full of frustrated Vroom customers. That’s when she emailed CBS4.
“We were kind of drawn to the idea of convenience. I mean, they bring it to your house, they do the paperwork. It seems like kind of a dream transaction,” Edelen said. “But it wasn’t.”
Vroom ended up paying for a rental car for Edelen. She said she had the rental for about a month.
At the end of 2021, Edelen filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office but said she didn’t hear back for a month. Eventually, the AGO closed her case.
“Regrettably, there was an initial delay in processing the Customer’s transaction, as the paperwork was put on hold due to a problem with the notarization on the power of attorney and a missing notary signature on the lien release. Vroom was able to address the documentation issue thereafter and the Customer’s transaction is currently processing at the Indiana DMV with an expected return date of January 31, 2022. Vroom has provided the customer with maximum number of extended temporary tags and thereafter extended a rental vehicle to the Customer at Vroom’s cost. Vroom will continue to cover the rental vehicle until plates arrive. Based on the above, we trust that this complaint will be resolved imminently. We apologize for any inconvenience to the Customer. Thank you for your time and attention.”
Mediator for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office
In January, she and her husband did receive the proper paperwork and were once again able to drive the vehicle they purchased. As of March, she did not yet know where the title was.
Eric Anderson of Fort Wayne was hoping to consolidate debt. He found a vehicle he wanted on Vroom.com and decided to purchase it. In turn, he planned to sell two vehicles he had back to the company.
“It seemed simple enough from what they advertised, which was I give them all the documentation they require about the vehicles I have. They wanted to know the mileage, the registration and what not. Then, I had to fill out a form and a contract with them, did financing through them and submitted that,” he explained.
Anderson said he submitted everything right away. He remembers being told that everything was complete and that within 12 days, the company would come and pick up the two vehicles he sold and also deliver the new one.
“That’s key because I’m making payments on these two vehicles and trying to consolidate debt. It gets a little burdensome to be paying on three vehicles, so I wanted to make sure these two were gone and paid on,” he pointed out.
Anderson expected Vroom would give him a delivery notice but said they didn’t.
“Never got a phone call. I woke up one morning, I think it was October 7th. I was on my way out there was a delivery driver there with the truck on the back of it. I received the vehicle, checked it over. The car was great, exactly as advertised,” he said. “I asked the delivery driver, ‘do you want me to get these other two vehicles for you?’ Because he had a very long trailer, he could have accommodated them. The delivery driver, who was a third party, said ‘well, I’m not scheduled to pick up two cars.’”
Anderson called Vroom and said he was on hold for more than an hour trying to clarify the process.
“Finally, Vroom does call and they’re like, ‘yeah, we don’t know what the mix up is. Something happened,’” Anderson said.
Anderson said he ended up stuck with all three vehicles for more than a month. He made at least two more payments before Vroom finally showed up to take one of the cars.
“I asked the delivery company about the second vehicle that was supposed to be picked up and they said, ‘we only have a slip for one vehicle.’ So again, I had to call Vroom. I was on the phone with them waiting to talk to someone for over an hour. They were very confused on the vehicles they were picking up and what they already had. They thought they already picked up my vehicles,” he said.
Finally, Vroom picked up the remaining car. But Anderson also had a similar experience as Edelen. He said it took a long time to get his plates and paperwork. Eventually, his plate expired, and he couldn’t drive the new vehicle he had purchased.
“So, you went from three vehicles to one that you couldn’t even drive,” anchor Angela Brauer said.
“Yeah!” he laughed. “It finally happened but it didn’t happen without me threatening to file complaints with the Secretary of State in Texas and Indiana and the BMV in both states.”
Vroom has 4,500 BBB complaints and counting
The Better Business Bureau in Houston, where Vroom is headquartered, isn’t holding back. A spokesperson said he is very aware of the mounting problems.
“They got into Houston through a backdoor,” Dan Parsons, the president of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Houston and South Texas, said. “We had a brick-and-mortar store called Texas Direct Auto. It was just it was a regular – was not really an online store – a retail store. They were fine. They were good. Somehow Vroom came in three or so years ago and bought them.”
Parsons said Vroom’s problems started during the pandemic when motor vehicle departments shut down and when there was a severe supply and labor shortage. Now, he says, DMVs and BMVs are open. He doesn’t feel there is any excuse for the ongoing issues.
“No, this is totally unprecedented,” Parson said. “I’m sitting here every day looking at pages and pages. Not a few pages of complaints and reviews.”
Parsons said most of the problems have to do with titling, but that he has also received complaints about the company selling faulty vehicles with damaged engines and about people receiving fake tags.
“The problem is, it’s over their heads. There are so many that are unanswered, they’ve just ignored or can’t get to because the volume,” he explained.
In 2021, the BBB had enough. It revoked Vroom’s accreditation.
“We kicked them out,” Parsons said. “I mean, we went through a formal process of terminating their relationship with us.”
He criticized Vroom’s customer service or lack thereof. Parsons questioned why the company keeps telling people they don’t have managers or supervisors and why it instead keeps promising to “escalate” cases.
“They have buzzwords,” Parsons said. “‘We’re going to escalate your complaint.’ Finally, when the elevator goes through the roof and crashes down on the ground, you’ve been escalated as far as you can be escalated. It’s a bunch of bull. It really is. At the end of the day, it’s like, we just make you go away. We try to send you somewhere else. They have all these fancy little words that buy them another week or two weeks or three weeks.”
“Do you think they need to be shut down?” Brauer asked. “Is that the solution?”
“Oh, that’s the minimum! Or reorganized, certainly,” Parsons responded. “This appears to be fraud with a capital F. How come these guys are getting away with this?”
Indiana Attorney General, Secretary of State, won’t confirm an investigation
CBS4 asked the Indiana Attorney General, the Indiana BMV and Indiana Secretary of State how many complaints they have received about Vroom.
“We have seen a marked increase in the number of complaints,” Scott Barnhart, the director of Consumer Protection at the Attorney General’s Office, said. “The number one complaint we have seen is failure to convey title.”
State law says a company must provide the title within 30 days. If it doesn’t, the company is in violation.
Barnhart urged consumers to do their homework on the front end.
“I would tell consumers, particularly if they’re buying a used car, to ask the dealer ‘can you show me the title?’ If they can show you the title, likely, you won’t have any issues. If they say, ‘oh, well we don’t have the title or we’re in the process of getting it,’ that should be sending an alarm bell or a concern, if you will, for the consumer,” he advised.
“I have people asking why the Attorney General’s office isn’t doing more,” Brauer pushed.
“We have numerous investigations that are ongoing,” Barnhart replied. “We don’t typically reveal what investigations were doing at any particular time, but we do look at trends and we do look at the number of complaints we receive and assess those and figure out where do put our resources because like everybody else, we’re limited in the resources that we have, and we’re limited in the things we can do.”
“What is your office doing to protect consumers specifically from these kinds of companies?” Brauer asked. “At what point does the state, your office, say this company needs to be shut down or reorganized?”
“We have a consumer litigation section, and that consumer litigation section does a lot of investigation with respect to customer related financing and consumer related issues,” Barnhart said.
He showed CBS4 the records, which indicated there were 26 claims settled.
The Secretary of State’s Office pointed to its records, which showed the state revoked Vroom’s dealership license in 2018.
CBS4 uncovers additional complaints and lawsuits
CBS4 has confirmed there were at least 135 consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission.
There have also been 235 complaints submitted to the Texas DMV. A spokesperson could not discuss details of open cases but confirmed the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has an “active investigation involving this dealer.”
“The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) has administrative authority over licensed motor vehicle dealers in Texas. Consumers who encounter a problem with a licensed Texas dealer can file a complaint at https://www.txdmv.gov/complaints. If the department finds evidence of a violation of the laws we enforce, we may initiate administrative action against the dealer. Sanctions may include a civil penalty (monetary fine), and in more serious cases, license revocation. Consumers who encounter a problem with a licensed dealer in another state should contact the jurisdiction that has authority over dealers in that state.”
Texas DMV spokesperson
CBS4 also found Vroom is facing at least a dozen lawsuits nationwide.
CBS4 emailed Vroom twice before a spokesperson responded. He asked for the names of the customers we had spoken with.
Days later, Vroom sent this statement:
“We regret that Ms. Elden had a negative experience with Vroom. Our goal is for every customer to have a positive experience through every step in the transaction process, from completion of paperwork to vehicle delivery and registration. As we did with Ms. Elden, we are committed to working with customers to solve any issues they might have at any point of that process. We want every customer to enjoy their vehicle from the moment of purchase.”
Unfortunately, the name of the customer we had mentioned was referenced incorrectly throughout.
CBS4 located Vroom’s most recent investor report. In it, the company acknowledged an increasing amount of customer complaints:
“From time to time, we have been subject to audits, requests for information, investigations and other inquiries from our regulators related to customer complaints. As we have encountered operational challenges in keeping up with our rapid growth, during the past six months there has been an increase in customer complaints, leading to an increase in such regulatory inquiries. We endeavor to promptly respond to any such inquiries and cooperate with our regulators.”
Carvana faces similar complaints
Carvana, which has a similar business strategy, is facing similar allegations. CBS4 spoke with several local customers who said they waited months for their title.
Another person said they were sold a stolen vehicle. CBS4 confirmed with state police that was the case.
“The first VIN he checked was actually the one you can see underneath the glass,” Henry Doffin said. “The second one they checked would have been inside the driver door frame, which is on the frame right here, but that sticker was actually pulled off.”
Doffin showed CBS4 the photos. There was evidence someone had changed the VIN on the dash.
Several states are now investigating Carvana. North Carolina revoked the company’s dealer license in 2021.
Paperwork shows it, too, is facing at least one class action lawsuit for delayed transfer of title and registration.
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