Call KENS | Dealership makes contract error but refuses refund –

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Tiarra Snell drove off the lot with a 2015 Chevy Trax but the paperwork she signed was for a different vehicle.

SAN ANTONIO — Tierra Snell had her heart set on finding a Chevy Trax after someone ran into her previous vehicle and totaled it. Eventually, she found one at a dealership on the south side of San Antonio and paid for the vehicle in full.

Now Snell wishes she had never paid the dealership a dime.

“Before I got home the AC stopped working. Anytime I stopped, the car would start shaking really hard,” Snell said.

Snell bought the vehicle at a dealership located at 719 Brighton Ave on the city’s south side. The location is listed online as Auto City Finance but the lot sold her the car under the business name “Cars 4 Sale.”

Snell took the vehicle to AutoZone for a diagnostic check and showed KENS 5 a diagnostic report that suggested replacing the catalytic converter. The touch screen on the car’s console also wasn’t working.

But the largest issue with the vehicle was something else entirely: the car she drove off the lot was not actually the same vehicle on the contract she signed. Snell had the keys to a 2015 Chevy Trax but she had a contract for a 2016 Chevy Trax with a completely different VIN number.

“I start to realize… that’s not my VIN number. That’s not my mileage!” Snell said.

Snell also didn’t have the vehicle title yet. This meant she didn’t even know if she legally owned the vehicle. The family had already tried to return the vehicle once but Snell said the dealer refused. Finally, the family called KENS 5.

“My mom told them ‘we are going to call KENS 5!’” Snell said.

KENS 5 visited the lot and told the salesman at the location about the issue. He said he would look into it but didn’t have any information.

KENS 5 then asked the salesman if the vehicle listed in the contract, which they had technically sold to the family, was still on the lot. The salesman said he didn’t know the answer to that question.

After walking out of the office, KENS 5 found the vehicle in the front of the lot. The salesman could not explain this either.

KENS 5 then spoke to another man on the property that acted like he was in charge but refused to provide his name. That man said the whole thing was a misunderstanding and they were going to work with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to fix the contract.

Unfortunately, for the dealership, Consumer Protection Attorney Bill Clanton said you cannot just swap out numbers on a binding contract and call it a day.

“The dealer can’t just scratch out the VIN number and say, ‘Ok, here is the right contract.’” Clanton said. “Each of the documents would have to be re-written with the correct VIN number and then re-signed by the consumer and the dealer.”

Clanton also said the consumer is not obligated to re-sign the deal. He said a dealer would already be in violation of their own contract if they failed to deliver the vehicle listed in the contract to the consumer.

“If the consumer doesn’t want the vehicle they can say ‘give me my money back,’” Clanton said.

Still, in Snell’s case, the dealership refused to provide a refund and refused to provide KENS 5 any additional statement explaining their side. That means the Snell family must now sue the dealer in a small claims court to resolve the issue.

KENS 5 also contacted Bexar County Tax Assessor Albert Uresti to find out who owns the title to the vehicle currently in Snell’s possession. Uresti’s office was able to confirm that the title for that vehicle had been legally transferred into Snell’s name and the vehicle was not stolen.

Finally, both KENS 5 and the Snell family contacted the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles about the issue. 

The Texas DMV told KENS 5 they are now investigating the car dealership but could not comment on that open investigation.

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