DENVER, Colo. - How did a savvy, experienced buyer end up with a used truck when the bill of sale listed it as new?
A CALL7 Investigation uncovered a local car dealership's questionable sales tactics: selling a vehicle as new when according to state law, it should have been sold as used.
Brad White told CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta, "That's the only thing we ever discussed was a new truck, and to find out it wasn't new was shocking….I definitely feel deceived."
The CALL7 Investigators uncovered multiple state law violations when AutoNation sold White the truck, but the dealership maintained it was a clerical error and offered no resolution until CALL7 started its investigation. Marc Cannon, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Policy for AutoNation, eventually told Marchetta by phone that it was "sloppy paperwork, simple as that.”
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In Colorado, there are two events that require a car to be sold as "used" 1) if a car has more than 1500 miles or 2) if the car has been sold, titled and processed.
Car dealerships are permitted to "unwind" a previous sale, turning back the clock on the vehicle's warranty and selling a car as new, but only if the vehicle was never titled. State law also requires dealerships to send the title of any vehicle, new or used, to the purchaser within 30 days.
White received his title 10 weeks after he purchased what he believed to be his brand new Nissan truck. During his second attempt to register the truck at the Boulder DMV, White was informed for the first time that he may not be the original owner. After the dealership refused White’s request for a vehicle history report, the CALL7 Investigators obtained a CARFAX report that confirmed there was a previous owner.
Former chairman of the Colorado Auto Dealer Board Don Hicks says, "if they unwound it after they titled it, the game's over, it's a used car."
In the eyes of the state, Hicks said, "once the title is generated it's a used car. Period."
What AutoNation calls "sloppy paperwork" left White questioning the price he paid for the vehicle, the validity of the manufacturer's warranty and whether there is anything else AutoNation failed to disclose at the time of purchase.
After hearing the details of White's ordeal Hicks says the behavior of AutoNation "sounds like somebody made a very large mistake."
Friday, White accepted AutoNation's offer of an extended warranty and a discount. The long-time Nissan owner says the six-month ordeal made him unlikely to buy another Nissan in the future.
Cannon, emailed Marchetta saying, "The paperwork issue with Mr. Whites (sic) car was unfortunate and should not have occurred…It was error made by one of r (sic) associates in the processing of vehicle paperwork. Its (sic) unfortunate that error occurred and it was not caught or resolved sooner. We r (sic) glad he likes his Nissan and apologized for the delay in getting the situation handled."
But in an earlier phone call to Marchetta, he said the dealership "should not have been nice to the customer."
What Cannon continues to refer to as a paperwork issue was against Colorado law.
Insisting on a vehicle history report or obtaining one before making a purchase will verify whether or not the car you are buying is new or used. If a dealer delays more than 30-days in sending title paperwork, that is also a red flag.
Prospective buyers can also request the manufacture's certificate of origin (MCO) from the dealership to prove the vehicle is new.
To file a written complaint about a dealership with the Auto Industry Division, you must first contact the dealership and allow them the opportunity to resolve the problem. The Colorado Auto Dealers Association works to mediate disputes between buyers and dealerships.