7 On Your Side helps grandmother get car holding deposit back after photo discrepancy

Nina Pineda Image
Wednesday, May 1, 2024
7 On Your Side helps grandmother get car holding deposit back
Nina Pineda has more on what you should do before you put money down on a vehicle.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- If you're shopping for a used car, you need to make sure that what you see online is what you get in person!

That's especially true if you're putting down a "hold deposit" so the dealer won't sell it until you see it.

A Staten Island grandmother put money down after she saw an ad for a 14-year-old used truck she could afford.

Then after seeing what the actual truck looked like, she decided not to buy it. The dealer agreed to a refund but then didn't give the money back.

That's when she asked 7 On Your Side to step in.

It's pretty competitive for good used cars right now because new car prices are still steep.

Most of us will start our search online.

If you're asked to put down what's called a holding deposit, get terms in writing if it is refundable or non-refundable.

Also, check the VIN and vehicle history report, research the dealer, and look up your state's laws.

Darla Wilkerson, a grandmother from Port Richmond had nothing in writing. When she didn't want the car there was no pushback on getting her deposit back.

The dealer said, "No problem," except the money was not returned to her debit card. For weeks and weeks, she was worried she was never going to get it.

"This is grandmother taking care of her granddaughter by herself. It's been over a month," Nina Pineda said.

"I'll take care of it," the dealer said.

"She needs the money now," Pineda said.

It was clear the salesman wanted to avoid 7 On Your Side's cameras.

We were at Venture Motors in Hackensack on behalf of Wilkerson, who had been trying to get back a deposit she put down on a truck in March.

"I saw a car on cars.com, I called to inquire about it," she said.

There was a stock photo of the 2010 pickup advertised for sale.

"I had never gone there to actually see it in person," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson says she was told by the salesperson that if she didn't pick up the truck right away, it wouldn't last the weekend. So, she put down a $500 deposit. Then, she got pictures of what it really looked like.

"It was a totally different car," she said. "The seats are all torn apart. The buttons are broken. The stains all over. This fender is all rusted completely and it's been wrecked."

"Oh my gosh. This looks terrible," Pineda said.

"Yeah," Wilkerson said.

"So you were like, I'm not going to buy this," Pineda said.

"Right," Wilkerson said.

"So when you asked for your deposit, what do they say?" Pineda asked.

"They told me okay, we'll take three days for my deposit to come back," Wilkerson said.

"And when was this?" Pineda asked.

"March 8," she said.

Three days later, Wilkerson sent a text to her salesman saying, "I need my refund. $500 refunded" adding, "...it's not refunded after my 3rd call."

Six weeks later, despite a visit from her boyfriend, there was still no refund.

"I went there. They said they were going to pay her. They shook my hand and it was nice," said Sal, Wilkerson's boyfriend.

"I'm struggling now. You know, I'm going on between taking care of my parents and my grandchildren. And I'm not well, myself. So, this is...I mean, the house. There's so much i have to do. And I'm living month to month pretty much right now," she said.

Wilkerson's been taking care of both her granddaughters, Delila and Juniper full-time for years. She needed the truck for them and to help her parents move.

She called the dealer again during our interview.

"I was just, I was just wondering if there was any progress in returning my refund?" Wilkerson asked.

The salesman read back her credit card number and claimed her $500 was already refunded, but delayed because the business has a new credit card system.

"Switched merchants? A different credit card machine? Don't understand that, but OK," she said.

7 On Your Side went to Hackensack to see about the holdup.

"Can we get a check for her? She shouldn't have to wait this long. She a grandmother taking care of her grandkids," Pineda said.

They closed the door on 7 On Your Side that afternoon at about 3:25 p.m.

But after leaving, right at 3:27 p.m. they opened their wallets and texted Wilkerson a receipt of a $500 refund.

In an email to 7 On Your Side, Venture Motors said, "The confusion was originally, everything was done in her son-in-law's name and the controller couldn't find her name, but her deposit was returned."

"You guys are awesome. Fantastic, Nina! Thank you and thank Channel 7! We are so grateful. I told them I would take them to Dunkin Donuts," she said.

"I was happy she got the money back," Juniper said.

"Really happy because we'd be able to go to Dunkin," Delila said.

If you do get pictures of the actual car you want to buy and want to make a deposit, negotiate for a small deposit, pay with a credit card, and get a deposit receipt.

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