Toyota Cashes Lease Payment Check, Repos Van Anyway

Mendel works for a not-for-profit organization that leases a few Toyotas, including the van that he drives. Somehow, there was a mixup where Toyota somehow failed to notice that the organization had made its monthly payments (if a bit late) and just went ahead and repossessed the van. So, just pay Toyota, pay the impound lot, and get the car back, right? If only it were that simple.

He writes:

I’ve never in my life had as bad an experience as I just had with Toyota. They mistakenly repossessed a car, and then dragged me through hell to get it back. Now I’m out the repo costs, and have this on my credit. I hope posting to your site might help.

I work for a community non-profit, which leases several company cars; two are from Toyota, and I drive one of them. The organization sometimes pay their bills one or two weeks late, but always pays.

In late June, there was a bill for $962.48, which represented two months with late fees. Not a good thing.

So, on June 22nd, the organization sent out a check to Toyota for that amount.

In early July, robo calls were received looking for payment. We figured that the system hadn’t caught up with itself. When in mid-July, Toyota called and were told that the check had been sent out a long time ago; they said they had no record of it and would check into it.

The organization’s bank showed the check as deposited on July 8th, so we had no worries. On Friday night, July 29th, shortly before 11pm, a man furiously rang my bell at home. My van was hooked to a tow truck and he told me it was being repossessed for non-payment. He refused to leave a piece of paper as proof that he’d taken the car (he could’ve been a thief for all I knew) and was off.

When we called Toyota to figure out what happened, they said that our deal was off and they were taking the van; they refused to acknowledge that our check had been cashed. I called our leasing agent, who spent hours on the phone, faxed them copies of the canceled check, begged and pleaded to no avail. Finally, on Monday morning, he got someone who realized that there was something wrong on Toyota’s end (at the very least: where had our money gone???). But he had no authority to reverse the repo; we needed to wait for a supervisor.

Now silence. I’m a fundraiser and was losing precious work time. I and the organization were suffering.

Tuesday, mid-morning, we got a reply from Toyota. The canceled check wasn’t sufficient. We needed a letter from the bank that the check hadn’t bounced (!?!). We sent that. Another day went by.

Wednesday morning, my frustrated and bewildered leasing agent begged the people at Toyota to be reasonable and give me back my van, while erasing the repo from our account.

They replied that the account number on the check had a misplaced digit (true, although there had been a Toyota slip in the envelope too), so it was our fault.

“Well, why did you cash it then? Where did you think it was going? Why would you have taken money you didn’t think you deserved?” No reply.

We needed to pay a fine of $897.49, in addition to the cash payment they’d received on 7/8. Wanting to end the nightmare, I called Western Union and personally paid those funds. Toyota told me that we were now cleared and I could expect a call soon, which would tell me where in [redacted], NJ to pick up my car.

It was already mid-afternoon, so I headed out to [redacted] with a friend, expecting to get a call and pick up the van so that I could have it for the evening. I indeed got the call from Renovo, a repo company that Toyota uses, and a polite lady charged me $25 and told me

I could pick it up in the morning.

“Why not right now?,” I asked.

“Well, it’s 3:35 and they close at 4″

“I’m five minutes away”

“Great. Here the cell number of D., who manages the pound”.

With respect to the charges, I asked, “Is the $25 it? Will there be more charges at the pound?”

“No. This is it.” (I hope that they record their conversations).

Speeding to the destination, I called D., who said “Why are you coming? I’m not there and the pound has been closed all day. Renovo knew that! Tomorrow morning at 11!”

I called Renovo back, and the lady I had spoken to denied ever telling me that Dave was in the office.

VERY frustrated, I had no choice but to return home. I returned at 11:05 Thursday morning, the seventh day of my lost car-odyssey and gratefully approached D. (I had arranged an appointment with a donor for noon, to leave myself enough time for the pick-up).

“Sorry, dude. No go on the van!” said D. Unsure of what he could possibly mean, I just looked at him.

“Toyota released the van yesterday. But they called at 10 last night to revoke the release! Nothing I can do man!”

Frustrating as this was, it had become almost comical. I called my leasing agent, who went into a tirade about his frustration with this Toyota in this whole saga.

He asked me to locate my Western Union MTCN number, which would confirm yesterday’s payment, while he called Toyota.

He called me back, at wits’ end. S. in Toyota conceded that Toyota had indeed released the car on Wednesday afternoon, but he insisted that there was no evidence of a payment, and that the release had been in error. After exhaustive arguing, he searched on my telephone number and found the payment. Finally!!

I had stayed close to the pound, so on my way. I called [repo company] to make sure they’d gotten the release memo; they confirmed they had. I got to the pound and spoke with D. No go. He hadn’t gotten the communique. I called Renovo and asked them to speak directly with D; he said he only deals with a specific supervisor and needs to hear from her.

45 minutes later, and another $125 charge later, I had my van. And a distaste I can’t remember ever feeling.