NewsTeam 10 Investigates


East County family frustrated with local dealership over truck sale

Posted at 12:56 PM, Jun 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-02 15:56:29-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- An East County family says they sold their vehicle to a local car dealership which promised to pay off the remainder of the loan.

They say while the dealer did take the truck off their hands, the dealership didn't initially pay the loan -- costing Jessica and Brandon Haley thousands of dollars in additional payments and hours of time wasted trying to clear things up.

"It’s been extremely scary and financially scary,” said Jessica Haley.

While buying and selling a vehicle isn't everyone's favorite process, most of it is normally straightforward.

Not in this situation.

Haley says while the deal was easy, getting the dealership to execute it, not so much.

"They've given us every excuse in the book,” she said.

Haley says about two years ago, she and her husband bought a GMC Sierra Truck from South County Buick GMC.

In February of this year, they needed something new to work with their growing family, so they took the truck to the dealership where they bought it and sold it back to them for the remainder of the loan plus some cash.

"They took the truck, said all was well, they'd pay off our loan, and we thought it was square and done with,” Haley said.

But that wasn't the end.

According to a lawsuit Brandon Haley filed in April against the dealership, its ownership group, and others alleging fraud, breach of contract, negligence, and other claims — paying off the loan part didn't immediately happen.

"My husband happened to log into his bank account and noticed that the loan was still outstanding so that's when the alarms went off,” Haley said.

Haley says when they called to ask about the payment, they were told a check was in the mail.

But according to their lawsuit, that wasn't the case, and they were still paying off the vehicle they'd sold back to the dealership.

The lawsuit says when they called South County Buick GMC to complain, they were referred to a different dealership, Subaru of El Cajon.

"They told my husband that they do all their financing out of El Cajon Subaru,” Haley said. “So we went down to El Cajon Subaru and they just pushed us around."

Haley says eventually the dealership did produce a check that they promised would be mailed to Chase to pay off the loan.

But according to their lawsuit, “The check for $53,900 bounced due to insufficient funds in the account.”

Their lawsuit says, “Plaintiff called GMC’s corporate office to make them aware of the situation. GMC told Plaintiff that his GMC Sierra has been resold to another buyer, even though the truck was still under Plaintiff’s name.”

"We have now been paying on a truck that we sold to the dealership that we found out they already sold to someone else,” Haley said.

Team 10 went to both dealerships to get answers.

Two people who identified themselves as employees at the South County Buick GMC location told Team 10 they're aware of customer complaints regarding vehicle trade-ins and there's been more than just one instance.

A quick search online shows several complaints about the dealerships and loan payoffs.

Jessica's lawsuit also states, "Throughout South County Buick and Subaru El Cajon’s Yelp and Google pages, dozens of individuals have complained about both dealerships’ dishonest business practices to take people's money, resell their vehicles and refuse to pay off loans and/or pay for the sale of the car."

A person who identified himself as a manager at the South Bay location told ABC 10News they’d have a response to Haley’s complaints, the lawsuit, and what has been read online from others.

In a statement released to ABC 10News, a spokesperson for the dealership wrote, “All payoffs have now been completed. For a brief period, we were behind and sincerely apologize for any issues it may have caused. We are committed to doing right by our customers and employees.”

Haley says after the interview the loan portion of the sale was finally paid off. She did file a complaint with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. A spokesperson for the DMV says they don't comment on ongoing investigations.

"We thought we were safe turning this car in over there and I want it to serve as a warning to others,” she said.

Haley’s lawsuit is still going on even though the loan was eventually paid. They did incur costs including paying the loan on a vehicle they no longer owned.

The troubles for the dealerships don't end there.

About two weeks ago, 12 current and former employees sued South County Buick GMC and Subaru of El Cajon for wage violations including unpaid wages, overtime compensation, and labor code violations.

That lawsuit talks about the trade-in issue.

One of the things the employees claim in their lawsuit is the dealership failed to pay off customer trade-in vehicles and that meant employees got low customer satisfaction scores.

As of this writing, neither of the dealerships have filed any legal response to the allegations in either or the lawsuits.