GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- FOX 17 receives a lot of complaints about used car lots. Most involve cars with mechanical issues. However, Rose Martin said one dealer promised to repair her transmission at no cost. The problem: the dealer has had the car for two months.
She said she bought her 2008 Ford Escape last summer from Smart Choice Automotive in Wyoming.
"They just seemed like they were welcoming, friendly. Now I feel like it was a sham. We're going to do whatever it takes to get her into this vehicle," Martin said.
After three months, she said the transmission went out in November. Despite buying it "as-is," she said the dealer agreed to fix it at no cost.
"A couple weeks goes by, he's like 'oh you'll have it early part of next week'," Martin recalled.
After not hearing back, she said she stopped by after Thanksgiving.
Martin said, "I see they have the notice on the door saying their license was suspended as of the 21st of November."
The FOX 17 Problem Solvers checked in with the Michigan Secretary of State's office. The department said it suspended Smart Choice Automotive's license, as well as Ann Street Auto on Alpine which has the same owner.
The department stated the following:
"The license suspension was due to unprocessed deals and an imminent risk posed by the dealership to the public. There were previous consumer complaints against the dealership for failing to file for title and registration, and providing titles to the owner within 15 days. The dealership was on probation for previous issues from May 2016-May 2017. To date, the licensee has not sought an administrative hearing to contest the suspension."
Despite all of this, Martin said she was reassured her vehicle would still be fixed. But two months later, her 2008 Ford Escape is still sitting on the lot. She said her car note is $398 a month. The person who runs the dealership also runs the financing company, Jackson Financial.
Martin said, "I paid for November and part of December. So finally, I'm like 'I'm not paying you guys anything else'."
She said the dealer eventually gave her a loaner vehicle but said she got pulled over because of a bad dealer plate. FOX 17 spoke with David Brock who runs the dealerships and finance company. He declined an on-camera interview but said things got hectic when the state took action on the dealerships. He said the used car lot lost the keys to Martin's vehicle and that he doesn't have to fix it since she signed for it "as-is". However, he said he'll keep his word.
Brock also said Martin's vehicle is a lease not a purchase. Martin said that's news to her. Regardless, she just wants this resolved.
"I would like my vehicle to be fixed so I can have a safe and reliable vehicle for my kids," Martin said.
He said the mechanics will get to looking at Martin's car today.
As for the allegations from the state, Brock admitted to them. However, he said he feels the state doesn't give dealerships enough time to distribute titles.