THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU
Updated: September 29, 2011 12:41AM
Dear Fixer: In February 2008, my husband and I purchased a 2005 Buick LaCrosse from CarMax in Oak Lawn. We financed the car through Wells Fargo. On Jan. 8, 2011, the car was taken from in front of our home.
I reported the car stolen and filed an insurance claim. The claim was processed, and Wells Fargo was paid a settlement on March 23. There was still $1,500 left on the loan that I still owe Wells Fargo. (I only had collateral insurance, so I did not receive any money from the insurance.)
While this was happening, I had to rent a car, and then we purchased another used car.
Then, on March 25, I received a call from Chase Auto Finance. They said they had mistakenly repossessed my LaCrosse in January and would like to return it.
Chase’s special collections manager told me the reason the company took the car was because the previous owner did not complete his payments.
They took the car without knowing that I was the owner, and Wells Fargo was the lien holder.
The insurance company said they were not going to reverse the payment to Well Fargo, and Chase gave the car to the insurance company.
The special collections manager from Chase did accept fault and said we could discuss payment options for damages that I incurred.
Because Chase took my vehicle without securing a lien on the title, I had to go out and purchase another vehicle and put $2,000 down. In addition, I had only two years of payments remaining on the LaCrosse. Now, I’ve got a new five-year loan. The difference between what I owed on the old car and what I now will have to pay in three more years of car payments is more than $13,000.
I also had rental cars and missed work, which totaled $1,000. The items that were in my car when Chase took it were discarded; those included my clothes, my child’s car seat and my husband’s work uniforms that totaled around $1,000. I also still owe Wells Fargo $1,500 on the old loan.
I’ve had to make multiple calls back and forth to Chase, Wells Fargo, the police department and my insurance company. The entire ordeal has been very stressful.
I noted all these expenses and requested $20,000 as a settlement. They offered me $6,500.
I did not accept their offer because I believe I’ve incurred costs more than that. I don’t want to go to court. This situation has been dragged out enough, and I’m pregnant. Help!
Joibonta Jackson, Chicago
Dear Joibonta: As the owner of a 1994 Nissan Altima with 125,000 miles on it, The Fixer knows what it’s like to look forward to no more car payments. So being two years away from that freedom and then being set back to a new five-year loan — not to mention all your other monetary losses — well, we feel for you.
When we took this to Chase, the company admitted it screwed up. (No word on why it took 2½ months to discover the mistake.) The task now was to determine a fair amount of reimbursement.
We thought the initial offer of $6,500 was way too low. When we added up the nearly $13,800 in extra car payments you’ll have to make on the 2008 Dodge Charger you bought, along with the down payment, the money to Wells Fargo, the car rental, the lost items and lost work time, we came up with a grand total of $19,421.72.
We ran this information by a couple of local attorneys — one of them a professor at a well-known law school — and they both felt your request for $20,000 was not unreasonable considering what a slam-dunk case this would be.
In the end, neither you nor Chase wanted to see this dragged out for several more years — and given this new information, Chase agreed to give you the $20,000 you’d requested.
And now . . . we’ll consider this fixed!
Fixer on the radio
The Fixer will appear on the “Don’t Fall For It” radio show at noon Wednesday to help celebrate the show’s second anniversary.
Host Tom Brady, the inspector-in-charge for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Chicago Division, trained with Second City and will make you laugh while you learn. The show airs on WBIG-AM (1280) and also streams live at WBIG1280.com.
Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer, where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.