OWASSO, Okla. — Used cars are a hot commodity.
Prices are up just over 40%, according to the U-S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sky-rocketing prices are due in part to scarcity brought on by the pandemic, which triggered supply chain and workforce issues.
Buying vehicles online can certainly be convenient, and may even save you some cash.But before you buy online, beware. There's a critical part of the deal, that if missing, which can cause heartache and budget-ache.
An Owasso family felt the pain. The vehicle they bought sits in the driveway.
“What I have is a car that’s pretty much a garage decoration at this point,” says David Snell.
A used car that they searched high and low for, during a time when they’re difficult and expensive to find.
“We were excited about having another car, a little bit more freedom," he said.
Snell said they enjoyed driving it, at least for the first month, until their temporary 30-day tag expired. But Carvana never sent him the title, he says, so he can register the car, and buy his permanent tag.
“I understand they’re dealing with tens of thousands of vehicles across the United States," he said.
But the Snells say they desperately need their title, so they can legally drive their car, not just let it sit in the garage.
“I’m losing some sleep, I’m not going to lie.” Losing a lot of time too, during the last couple of months. “I call them every day at least once or twice, to see if I can get a hold of the magical combination.”
So far though, he says, no magic, only excuses.
Although the company did offer Snell an extended 90-day temporary tag in the meanwhile, which he soon found out, after being stopped, is a no go in Oklahoma.
Fortunately, Snell said, his vehicle wasn’t impounded. He was allowed to drive the car home, instead, to park it, until the title finally does arrive.
“Honestly, I’ve given up hope.”
After he contacted the Problem Solvers, 2 News Oklahoma tried getting in touch with Carvana for more than a month. But they didn’t respond to two calls and three emails, asking about the title delay.
2 News did touch base with the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle Commission, which regulates used vehicles. “We have talked to Carvana about that, it is an ongoing issue, we’re addressing it,” says Brian Wilson, a commission spokesperson.
Ongoing, because Snell is not alone with the Carvana problem.
The commission says it’s received 31 complaints about missing titles so far this year, and Carvana’s involved in seven of those cases.
“For the most part, licensed dealers do a good job of getting titles to their customers,” Wilson says.
But no matter what dealer you’re buying from, the commission recommends you make sure the title is readily available, before buying, before signing any loan papers.
“One of the things that’s important for consumers to know is to talk to the dealer, work with the dealer, if the dealer does not have the title, that’s something you should really consider," he said.
The commission said Carvana is licensed in Oklahoma. You may have seen used vehicle vending machine towering near the interstate in Oklahoma City, and it has an office there. That means Carvana is responsible to pay for all late fees and other costs a customer is charged because of the title delay, even daily charges if the car gets impounded.
For now, though, that doesn’t get Snell his title.
“It’s kind of a cat and mouse game, I’m supposed to make my car payments, and I still am, but I have no actual direct relief from the state to get another temporary operating permit, to get anything else like that," he said.
So Snell hopes the state would make changes in dealing with expensive Catch-22 situations, outside of a customer’s control. But as he waits for his title, he warns others, “I recognized them, I respected their brand, though they would be reputable, and I would hate to see anyone else get into this I have.”
For now, the Snells just wonder how long it’ll be, until they can take their new garage decoration, out for a spin.
To help protect yourself when buying a used vehicle:
- Always ask if the dealer has a clean title to the vehicle you are considering.
- Ask if the dealer is licensed to sell used vehicles in Oklahoma.
- If you don't get the title within 30-days of your purchase, file a complaint with Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicles and Parts Commission.
Contact the Problem Solvers:
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