A Maine woman had nothing but problems with her used VW Tiguan purchase.
Used car online retailer Carvana seems to be having trouble figuring out how to actually sell used cars. The Arizona-based company has had a number of problems with late titles. Then the used car dealer lost its license to sell cars in Illinois. And although the license has since been reinstated, they are experiencing ongoing problems with the Florida DMV. Now a used car buyer in Maine, who was allegedly sold a lemon by Carvana, has been offered nothing more than an online apology and received a net sum of $300 in compensation.
The buyer of the troubled 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan was 43-year-old Lauryn Smith. The Portland, Maine, resident purchased the VW from Carvana online in July, and the problems started right away. Smith complained and requested to cancel the sale as Carvana does have a decent seven-day return policy. But then the real circus began.
Carvana actively discussed returning the Tiguan and replacing the vehicle with a Volkswagen Golf. The mechanical issues on the Tiguan are now specified, but the vehicle was stalling in the most inconvenient of places. As Smith drove her seven-year-old VW, the crossover stalled at a gas station and would not restart. Carvana requested she leave the car there and would send a company flatbed truck to transport the vehicle as soon as possible,
Only Carvana roadside assistance never showed up. As a result, the gas station owner had the vehicle towed away to an impound lot. It's a cold world out there. Smith was a bit in the dark at this point but later found out from the towing company that it would cost $1,700 in towing and impound fees to release her non-running Tiguan.
Smith took issue with Carvana's customer service, and they agreed to cover the impound fees. But Carvana decided it wasn't even going to cover half of the bill, instead, only putting forward $500. Smith was told that she had to pay the rest out of her own pocket or her credit score would be "severely damaged."
Smith did pay but did not let the matter die; she reached out to the Boston Globe for media attention. It came as no surprise that Carvana coughed up a $2,000 check and took back the Tiguan. Minus the storage, she was left with a measly $300 bucks for the trouble.
"I'm happy Carvana has stepped up to take responsibility," Smith told the Boston Globe. "But the reason I shared this with the [media] wasn't only about me. I worry that other people get treated badly all the time and I wanted to show them there's a way to fight back."
Smith plans to lease a new car from a Portland-area dealership because the small change refund and digital apology were insufficient. Carvana stated, "We care deeply about the experiences of every one of our customers, and we worked closely with Ms. Smith to resolve this issue as we are committed to ensuring that in the rare cases where we don't initially live up to our brand promise, we work to make it right."
While Carvana's business model may once have seemed enticing, it's attracting a lot of negative press of late. Here's hoping, for its own sake, it can improve the way it deals with customers.