South Florida

Woman Turns to NBC 6 Responds for Help After Car Purchase Turns Sour

A South Florida mom turned to NBC 6 Responds when a deal she made with a dealership went sour and left her without a vehicle.

"Those were my legs," said Mariely Santana, after the car she had purchased was repossessed.

Santana says this all started earlier this year, when she was in the market for a car and came across an ad for the Car Depot of Miramar that suggested they'd be willing to work with her.

"No credit. We'll help you out. It doesn't matter, you know, and I got fooled by it," Santana said.

A 2013 Captiva caught Santana's eye, the car seemed ideal for storing all of the tools she uses for her construction jobs.

"I had looked at it and said well but that car they're not going to give it to me because I don’t have such a great credit," Santana said.

So she went to the dealership, ready to trade-in her 2001 Toyota Camry. Santana says a finance manager assured her he could get her payments to fit her tight budget. That same day, she signed a contract agreeing to pay $262 a month for 5.5 years.

"I was excited," she said. "I wasn’t even believing it, that I was driving the car."

The contract she signed said financing wasn't final even when you drive the car off the lot. A month later, she says she got a call from the dealership saying her financing agreement wasn’t approved, which would mean her monthly payment was going up $30 and she needed to sign a new contract. She says she told the finance manager she couldn't afford the increase.

"This is not cool what you're doing at this moment. I'm sorry I cannot agree to a higher price on the car," Santana said she told the manager.

That's why she said she just wanted to return the new car and get her old car back.

"He's like well forget about your car. What do you mean forget about my car? He's like your car is already long gone," Santana said.

Santana admits she didn't make any payments on the car. A month later, the Captiva was repo’d from her home.

The Car Depot of Miramar declined our request for an interview. Their attorney sent us a statement saying:  "It's my client's policy not to comment on specific sales transactions. My client tries to ensure all customers are happy with their purchase."

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) said they frequently get complaints about dealerships changing finance payments.

"That's very awful but that's what we hear here-it happens a lot."

The BBB said the best thing you can do is to secure financing with a bank before you even walk into a dealership.

"It's better for you to go to your bank or credit union and try to see if they can give you the financing, the money you need to buy this car."

You should also not leave a dealership with a vehicle until you've received the financing paperwork.

As for Santana, the car that was supposed to be a step up has now turned into a problem that might not have a fix.

"I can't sleep. I can't eat," she said. "My worry is I don't know where this is going to end."

If she can't get her car back, Santana said she'd like $2,000, the value of her trade-in. An attorney for the dealership told NBC 6 Car Depot is currently calculating the amount of money they're willing to return to Santana.

The attorney also said, "We've repeatedly made efforts to resolve this matter but it appears Ms. Santana is more interested in the public portrayal of the story instead of an actual resolution."

Contact Us