3 steps to follow before buying a car online

This story will air on News Channel 3 at 10 p.m. Thursday. The video will be added here after the story airs.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Shopping at a traditional car dealership might be a thing of the past for some, as more and more people choose to have their ride delivered right to their doorstep.

From companies like Vroom and Carvana to person-to-person sales, buying vehicles online has become increasingly popular.

But as NewsChannel 3 investigators discovered, that convenience can come at a cost.

Matthew Vanderbloemen bought an Acura RDX from online car dealership Vroom.

Vanderbloemen speaks with WREG about his ordeal with Vroom.

With a tagline like “Buy your next ride completely online,” Vroom appealed to Vanderbloemen, who was moving from Washington, DC to Memphis and needed a car.

“Since I didn’t own a vehicle, it was the easiest way for me to buy a vehicle. You know, I didn’t necessarily need someone driving me to different dealerships to figure it out,” he said.

Billy Smiths talks to NewsChannel 3 investigators.

Billy Smith also used Vroom for his latest car purchase. He bought an F-150, perfect for pulling his family’s RV.

“It was very convenient,” Smith said. “They were able to take care of everything, the financing, the…everything, the delivery and all that. So it was convenient.

Smith’s RV is parked at his home.

However, this convenience soon turned into complications.

Despite the company’s name, there was nothing quick about dealing with Vroom for Smith, Vanderbloemen and thousands of other customers, according to a recent WREG survey.

Customers have waited months to register their vehicles and others say they didn’t get what they paid for, according to our survey.

The Texas Attorney General is suing Vroom. The company is an authorized dealer in the state and has a large presence there. The lawsuit describes complaints similar to those uncovered by the WREG.

“All the innovation they were trying to pursue was executed so badly that it led to me being like, well, time to do it the old-fashioned way, go to a real dealer, talk to a real person,” Vanderbloemen said. , who waited more than six months for the title and registration papers.

Vanderbloemen discusses the concerns with WREG by showing us emails and documentation from Vroom.

It took over seven months for Smith to obtain a title and register his truck. Meanwhile, Smith said it was difficult to get someone on the phone at Vroom. He said he often waited on hold, only to finally speak to someone who couldn’t help him.

“I would advise anyone considering doing online business on something like a vehicle and quite frankly with Vroom, if you want to do that. From my personal experience, I would be cautious and check multiple reviews.

This is advice that might help other consumers avoid the problems that Smith encountered.

The Greater Houston BBB currently has over 5,500 complaints against Vroom.

Mid-South Better Business Bureau President Randy Hutchinson says consumers need to do their homework before making such an expensive purchase.

Hutchinson speaks with WREG at the MidSouth BBB offices.

“Every dealership is selling cars online now and certainly doing so during the pandemic. That’s probably how they sold almost all of them. So you always want to check the dealer,” Hutchinson said.

3 steps to follow before buying a car online

Step #1 – Dig into the dealership

  • Read reviews online
  • Find an active license
  • Investigation of any disciplinary action against the concessionaire

The same day our Vroom survey was released, state regulators issued an alert about the increase in complaints.

He warned consumers against buying vehicles online from unlicensed people and without licenses from state-owned companies. State regulators unfortunately say there isn’t much recourse they can provide if you hand over your money to an unlicensed operator.

Step #2-Find the vehicle

  • Get a Carfax report
  • Test drive the car (if possible)
  • Make sure you understand the return and refund policy

Hutchison says consumers are taking a big risk buying a car without seeing it.

“Beware if the dealership doesn’t offer you, you know, tons of photos of the car from every angle. A lot of them have videos that let you see the car,” Hutchinson told WREG.

Step #3-Beware of scams

  • Watch for red flags such as unusual payment methods
  • Be careful with sellers who will only communicate via text or social media
  • Do not hand over cash

Hutchinson added, “A lot of the ones you’ll see on a Craigslist or other online classified ads are individuals. Just plenty of opportunity for scams.

Hutchinson talks about the red flags consumers should be looking for with NewsChannel 3 investigator Zaneta Lowe.

Experts say it’s also a good idea for buyers to arrange financing before they shop. This allows consumers to budget and will not force them to deal with a particular lender.

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