Dealership debacle

Seven On Your Side
July 6, 2009 2:51:40 PM PDT
It's been a tough few months for Chrysler dealers. In our area, a number of them have closed. One dealership in Paramus actually went bankrupt. That left a consumer with a car, a car loan, and a vehicle she couldn't drive. "We're in a Chrysler debacle right now. And I don't know what to do." Car owner Donna Maher is disgusted. She says she owns a Jeep she can't drive. "It's useless. What are we going to do with a car that we can't use? It's gonna rot here (in the driveway.)

There's nothing wrong with the car, it drives fine. Rather, the dealer never got her permanent plates and the temps and the registration just expired. "Can't use it (the car)," says the frustrated Upper Saddle River resident. "Unless I want to do something illegal."

This spring Donna bought out the end of her Jeep's lease through her dealer, Jeep 17 in Paramus, New Jersey. But before she got her plates, Donna's dealer went bankrupt.

Now, she's left with no title, no registration, and no plates. Even so, Donna says she's out a $1,000 deposit and is still paying a car loan worth $12,450. "This will be the second month we're gonna pay to Chase (her new finance company) on a vehicle we can't even drive."

So 7 On Your Side burned rubber to help Donna out. And just days after we started making calls? Donna got some very good news, "All done. It was fantastic, I can't believe it."

It turned out a bankruptcy judge had recently ordered Chrysler Financial (the holder of Donna's car title) to give Donna's title back to Jeep 17 (her dealer). And after we called, the former dealership's owner personally delivered her title, registration, even installed her plates.

That put Donna back on the road. "Without you guys it would've never have happened. Thank you so much Tappy. It was fantastic.

The bankruptcy attorney told us there were as many as 16 other consumers in a similar bind. The lawyer said 14 had already received their plates and registrations. The two remaining will be getting them in the next few days. A Chrysler corporation rep told us she was saddened to hear about Jeep 17 bankruptcy and said it felt it was caused more by dealership finances than by the parent company's restructuring.


Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tappy Phillips