Repo Man: Borked Chrysler Site Can't Take Your Money, But Can Rack Up Late Fees

Late last Thursday night, two guys rang reader Sean’s doorbell and asked if he’d like to get anything out of his 2007 Jeep Compass before they repossessed it. Since then, Sean has tried to get current on his payments, but Chrysler’s web site snafus have kept him from getting the cash to Chrysler, which won’t let him get his car back unless he forks over hundreds of dollars in fees. Oy. Sean’s story, inside..

Sean writes:

In March, we (my girlfriend and I) made our normal monthly payment and never thought about it again (I know, our bad for not following our banking close enough). Turns out, Chrysler didn’t want our money and it changed from “Pending” to “Returned” on their website. For whatever reason, again, my fault entirely, I did indeed forget to make a payment in April. I’m perfectly willing to pay any associated fees due to my inattention. May 1st, I get a letter stating that my payment is past due and that it can affect my credit rating. I go online to their website to see that I owe them for March and April, and it was still before the May due date. I paid the total amount for all three months, using the same stored checking account information that I had used the entire time for the last 12+ consecutive/on-time payments. It shows the submission as successful and the status as “Pending.”

One week later, an email arrives stating that the payment didn’t go through and that the checking account information was incorrect. I go back to the website, re-enter my information and submit the total payment again. Again, says it went through and changes to “Pending.”

One week later, the same email comes back. I go back again, re-enter the information a third time, and submit just the May payment to see if it goes through at all. Again, status shows “Pending” after it submitted.

Strangely enough, it changes from “Pending” to “Submitted” during the week, meaning that they actually took their money this time. A week after we made the May payment, they repo’d the Jeep. No letters saying that it was coming, no phone calls, no messages-just the first letter on May 1st stating that I was past due.

Needless to say, I was a wreck, I had the first toothache (and the most painful at that, had an infected abscessÖblech) that I’ve had since I was 12 all day, and then they took my Jeep away, catching me completely off-guard.
Friday morning, I call the repo center (Certified Auto Recovery Inc) since that’s what I was told to do to ask about getting my car back. The guy I spoke to had no idea why I was calling him and instructed me to call the bank to clear it with them first. He then gave me the number to call Chrysler for their “Recovery” department. I put a call into Chrysler and spoke with Dawn, a fairly nice rep who explained the process and said that I owed the back payments and $370-$400 in recovery fees for the repo. I had to call off Friday (no way to get to work) so I was hoping I could have it resolved and pick up the Jeep that day. I also wanted to see a dentist ASAP as well as head to Ohio for a wedding on Saturday. She told me that no matter what, it would take 24-48 hours and the earliest I could pick it up would be today (Monday).

I proceeded on Friday to fax in all the information I needed to send in and Dawn let me know that when I call in Monday, I could pay with my debit card and it’d be about 45 minutes until they could release my Jeep to me. After faxing the info, a call to Dawn confirmed that they did indeed receive our faxed documents. Here the waiting starts for the mysterious “processing” portion.

That brings me to (Monday). At around noon (Dawn said that all paperwork should be processed by 1PM), I called in to make the payment. She takes our information and informs me that one of the pages didn’t come through the fax properly and I’d have to resend it. Why I wasn’t told Friday, I have no clue. She said I could email it to her to make it easier for me. An option I would’ve loved from the start since it cost me $6 to fax from the only local place that offers outgoing fax services. I called soon after I emailed the document and she confirmed that she had it and said it would take just a little bit longer for it to process and that she would call us back. From here, there were about 4 phone calls from me to Chrysler and to Certified Auto Recovery Inc. to see if the release was processed, being met repeatedly with “Not yet” and “Just a little longer.” Finally, at about 3:25PM, Dawn let us know that I could wait 20 minutes before calling Certified Auto Recovery Inc. to get info on how to pick up the Jeep.

Upon calling Certified Auto Recovery Inc., I’m then informed that I need $210 in cash to pick up the Jeep (storage fees) and that I’d have to wait until tomorrow to pick it up since they stop releasing cars at 4PM.

I was livid at this bit of information. I did all I could to get this resolved as quickly as possible, hoping to get it all done Friday, only to be forced into dragging it until tomorrow, plus this new fee was a delightful surprise.

I called Dawn back and she insisted that during our first phone call, she let me know that there would be additional “agent fees.” From what I recall and noted when we spoke, that was the $370-$400 added on to the past due balance. She said I could try to haggle with the garage to get them to lower it, but Chrysler wasn’t going to do anything about it. I explained that I was very angry being essentially extorted into paying these extra fees because of the speed that they handled it and she said that it wasn’t her fault and that I could take issues up with customer service. She also enlightened me and said that some of her friends in the customer service department have said that online payments don’t work when accounts are past due, which forces you to call in to make a payment. This would be fine with me if it actually said that instead of appearing to work, only to fail a week after submission. Not to mention I hate paying the associated fee when paying over the phone as opposed to paying online.

So here’s the breakdown:

2 Months of Owed Payments + Late Fees = I’m ok with this. While I still need answers from Chrysler as to why my March and May payments were returned, I know that I should’ve followed up with it more. BTW, I spoke to my bank (PNC) and they said that they have no record of Chrysler ever attempting to take the money during those submitted payments.

$370 in recovery fees = I’m assuming this goes to pay the repo guys

(Those 2 items were paid directly to Chrysler)

Now, $210 in cash only are due to Certified Auto Recovery Inc. upon pickup for “Storage Fees” thanks to this 24-48 hour period for processing, stalling all day today, and of course their inability to have anything done over the weekend.

You’d think a company that’s gone bankrupt wouldn’t have such a hard time taking someone’s money.

UPDATE: Sean paid the fees and got his Jeep back.

(Photo: bucklava)