COLUMBUS (WCMH) — New and used car prices are at record highs, leaving car shoppers looking harder for a good deal.
If you’re in the market for a new ride at a low price, what looks like a good deal at first could cost much more than you bargained for.
That’s what happened to Nina Casey, whose car broke down earlier this year.
Casey, who works at a Kroger in Columbus’ Brewery District and supports her son, scraped together just over $1,000 to buy a 2004 Honda CR-V in April.
“It’s been running fine,” Casey said. “But we can’t drive it now because I can’t get the main title.”
Since the temporary tags on the vehicle expired, Casey said she’s been borrowing her friends’ cars to run errands and commutes to and from work via Lyft, the bus, or an electric Lime scooter if there’s one available.
Casey said she has made multiple attempts to get her title from the dealership, Cash Car Kings.
“We’ve called. Now, when you call – (they say) ‘Let me make a few calls. I’ll call you right back.’ Never call back,” Casey said. “Call the next day, no answer. Later on, ‘I’m sorry about the holdup. Let me give you another call in a couple more days.’ Then a week goes by. Then two weeks.”
After receiving what Casey described as a rude response over the phone from Cash Car Kings, but no title, Casey filed a complaint against the business with Attorney General David Yost’s office.
NBC4 Investigates requested records of all complaints filed against Cash Car Kings and received 49, filed since June 2020. More than half of the complaints were from customers who claimed they did not receive a title after purchasing a vehicle.
While more than half of the title claims were closed after the customers eventually received a title, some claims remain open.
When reached by phone, a man initially hesitant to identify himself as Aquil Ansari, the owner of Cash Car Kings, said, “My customers are getting their titles, and I’m done talking to you,” and hung up.
Ansari called back several minutes later.
“We’re working on her title now,” Ansari said. “We got the car from an auction and the auction had a problem with the title, so that’s the problem with that. It’s nothing against us.”
Ansari could not give a specific time frame for when Casey would receive her title.
“With the pandemic, the titles are… it took a lot longer to get,” Ansari said. “That’s something that we have nothing to do with, honey. I mean, we’re in a pandemic right now.”
Consumer attorney Ron Burdge said while the pandemic has delayed a lot of things in business, car titles aren’t one of them.
“That process really hasn’t changed at the auction yard,” Burdge said. “The reality of it is that it’s more often than not caused by economic issues at the dealership, rather than trying to pass the blame off on somebody else.”
Ansari also claimed (incorrectly, according to the AG’s records) that Casey was his only customer who did not receive a title, and that all other claims against his business had been resolved.
“All our customers are getting taken care of and if they have a problem of not getting their title, they can call us and we can handle it,” Ansari said.
Consumer Protections in Ohio
Burdge said Ohio has laws in place that protect car buyers.
“Failure to deliver title within 40 days — that’s a flat-out violation of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act,” he said. “It’s also a breach of contract and breach of warranty of title.”
Burdge pointed out that sometimes, smaller dealerships that sell used cars can sell a car so quickly after purchasing it, there could be a delay in getting the title. However, if a dealer does not provide a title to a buyer within 40 days, Burdge said the buyer has the right to cancel the sale and receive a full refund.
- Ohio Attorney General’s Office complaint form
- Vehicle history lookup
- Kelley Blue Book
- Better Business Bureau
The AG’s office also has a Title Defect Rescission Fund, which covers the cost of a customer’s loss if they are unable to get a refund from the dealer. This is funded by a portion of the title fees collected by dealers.
The office would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an ongoing investigation into Cash Car Kings.
Jessica Kapcar, communications manager for the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, urged consumers to research dealerships and vehicles before agreeing to a sale.
She suggested researching the vehicle’s history by either asking the seller for a report or looking it up at vehiclehistory.gov. Buyers can also use online resources, like Kelley Blue Book, to look up the value of a vehicle to prevent overpaying.
“What might seem, you know, significantly underpriced– maybe that’s a red flag in and of itself,” Kapcar said.
The BBB website also contains reviews, ratings, and complaints filed against businesses.
Cash Car Kings has an “F” rating from the BBB following nine consumer complaints, eight of which remain unanswered by the business.
Kapcar said customers should never pay for a vehicle with a gift card or through a wire transaction, as it is almost impossible to trace or recover that money in the event of fraud.