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Online car dealer sends wrong vehicle, consumer says. Then it gets towed and the fun really starts.

Shantiya LeMay needed a vehicle.

The transmission in her old one died and she didn’t want to keep using her daughter’s car.

She decided to buy a vehicle from Carvana, an online only used car dealer that delivers vehicles to your home.

“I had no idea it would be a major nightmare,” LeMay said.

She chose a 2017 GMC Terrain on March 31, made the purchase, arranged the financing and insurance and waited for the delivery.

Her wheels arrived on April 5.

It was a relief to finally have a vehicle, she said, so she no longer had to worry about transportation to and from her job as a patient care technician an hour and fifteen minutes away from her South Orange home.

Everything seemed fine until the vehicle was towed on July 14.

When she tried to get the truck back, she got a big surprise. The vehicle she purchased was not the one she had been driving for 100 days, the single mom of four said.

Carvana sent the wrong truck, she said.

Police had noticed the truck’s VIN number did not match its temporary plate, she said.

“They towed it because it looked suspicious,” she said.

Not only was this an unimaginable error on the dealer’s part, she said, but she had been driving uninsured the whole time.

And because she didn’t have the correct paperwork for the vehicle, she couldn’t get it out of the tow yard.

When she called Carvana, the situation only got worse.

“They told me they delivered me the wrong vehicle and I should have known because it was a different mileage,” she said. “I had no idea when looking at the car that it was different from what I ordered.”

Carvana offered to change the purchase contract so she would keep the 2018 that was now sitting in the tow yard. It also said it would pay the $185 tow fee plus the daily storage charge of $26.

It also offered her $1,000, and then another $500, to cover rental fees.

But now, more than a month after the mistake was revealed, LeMay is still without her vehicle. She’s used up the car rental money and she’s stuck either borrowing cars from friends or family, paying for ride-share services or paying out-of-pocket to get a new rental.

Carvana has been agonizingly slow on the paperwork, she said.

“Then they still have to get it registered which is going to take 30 days or more, so I’m looking at an extra couple of weeks or a month where I would need a rental,” she said, noting it costs her close to $1,000 for a weekly vehicle rental. “But they said they were not helping me any more.”

Then things got worse.

She learned her first three car payments to Bridgecrest Financial, a sister company to Carvana, somehow, were not recorded, even though the funds had been taken from her bank account. She started to receive threatening messages about the payments, but even after she shared copies of her bank account statements showing the automatic withdrawals, the company didn’t correct the errors.

Then because she had to pay for a rental, she was unable to make her August loan payment and she delayed a college tuition payment, she said.

“If I lose my job — it’s how I’ve been paying my rent through the pandemic — I can’t afford to lose my job,” she said, and she asked Bamboozled for help.

SORTING IT ALL OUT

We reviewed all of LeMay’s documentation on the vehicle and her loan, and we asked Carvana about the mistake and the holdup.

It would only say it is “committed to ensuring the customer’s needs are met.”

But contact with Bridgecrest got some action.

Clay Scheitzach, Bridgecrest’s general counsel, said in an email that LeMay’s payments “have been or are in the process of being reapplied.”

He said he escalated the issue with the truck to Carvana and now, it will cover her rental expenses until the truck is registered and ready for the road.

The companies would also make things right with an offer.

“They have extended an offer to Ms. LeMay waiving the August payment and offered to pay the next three monthly payments as a goodwill gesture,” Scheitzach said.

At $460 per month, that’s a savings of $1,840.

He said they will also make sure there are no negative marks on her credit report.

Shortly thereafter, LeMay received a call from Carvana, but she’s still angry, saying that her life is still turned upside down.

“I was punished in all areas of life from a mistake that Carvana made. I was ignored, lied to, bamboozled, humiliated and punished for their incompetence,” she said.

“I’m not going to stop until they have fulfilled every promise that was made, every dime reimbursed and my car back in my possession,” LeMay said.

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Karin Price Mueller may be reached at KPriceMueller@NJAdvanceMedia.com.