Dear John: I am a social worker writing on behalf of my client.
Ten years ago, she was assaulted and beaten on the head, incurring injuries that required brain surgery and the placement of a steel plate and extensive rehab.
Social Security found her disabled and unable to work. In addition, her problem-solving abilities have been compromised.
In April 2018, she purchased a 2003 Honda CR-V from a used car dealer on Long Island. She was never shown a Carfax report, nor was she told the car had been in an accident. The price was $10,127.67 and she put $3,000 down.
The used car dealership arranged for financing at 24.8 percent interest, and the $210.02 payments are deducted from her checking account and are up to date. She owes $3,555.
Over the summer of 2018, she noticed problems and her mechanic kindly replaced the battery for $139.95 and changed the rear differential mount that was torn for $500 on credit.
He also put in a new starter for $750, on credit. Currently, the mechanic says the air conditioner does not blow cold air, the exhaust manifold bolt is missing, the crankshaft seal is leaking oil, the car needs rear brake pads and rotors, a muffler and four new tires.
My client is afraid to drive the car as it is unsafe and an accident could be fatal to her.
We wrote to the NY state Office of the Attorney General for help, and the car dealer said he would replace the car. But when she went there he refused to do so.
My client is homebound and is afraid to use the car, so she would like her down payment back to satisfy her car loans and she would like money to pay her mechanic for the car repairs.
She wants a different car because she was sold a lemon. Honda says the car was worth about $600.
Can you please help her? K.K.
Dear K.K.: Situations like this really piss me off.
You and I have discussed this a lot over the past few months so you already know that not only am I helping your client, but so, too, are others.
I’ll get to that in a moment.
I called the owner of the used car dealership immediately after getting your letter, which included all the necessary documentation. The owner contends that he did nothing wrong. But our “conversation” disintegrated into a bunch of FUs from both sides.
So, instead, I decided to use another tactic.
I called the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and asked it to look into this guy’s business practices. They haven’t gotten back to me, so it’s unclear if the office will investigate.
(If readers would like to help out, call DA Timothy Sini during the week at 631-853-4161, and give him a little shove.)
The DA should try to recover this person’s money.
I also spoke with the mechanic you mentioned, Kevin Hendrickson, who owns Hendrickson Car Care in Huntington, NY. He confirmed that the car is a mess and that your client was massively cheated. He says he fixed about $3,000 worth of problems and he doesn’t seem to expect payment. He says he knows the victim’s family.
But still more is needed to be done to make this car safe.
That’s where Pep Boys, the auto chain, stepped in. I called Pep Boys’ corporate office and asked if it could have someone inspect the car. It was towed to Pep Boys’ Bayshore, NY, location and — after a thorough inspection — mechanics found it needed another $5,646 worth of work.
How will your client ever pay for that?
She doesn’t have to. Pep Boys is going to fix the car for free.
The list of things that need replacing is too long to catalog here. But let’s just say that your client was correct in thinking that the car is unsafe.
Just so you know, I didn’t ask Pep Boys to fix the car. And I certainly didn’t ask that it be done for free. All I asked was that it be looked at.
That was a corporate decision and one that hopefully restores some of our faith in humanity.
Now the other problem — that disgraceful 24.8 percent loan, which is resulting in a $2,025 finance charge on the $5,102 borrowed.
I asked people I know in JPMorgan Chase’s corporate office to see if there was something they could do about this. Chase is now working on a lower-rate loan for this person.
The details haven’t yet been set as I’m writing, but the rate should be much, much lower than the usurious rate set by the car dealer and his bank, which is costing the victim a quarter of a monthly Social Security check.
“We’re really glad we were able to help,” said Trish Wexler, spokesperson for Chase.
The victim says she is very grateful to Pep Boys, Chase and the mechanic who got her this far.
“I’ve been lied to all my life. This is a blessing. Thank you,” she told me by phone the other day.
Credit: Source link