SOUTH BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- After 7 On Your Side aired a story in November about a New Jersey woman who got billed for a car she didn't own, several other viewers wanted help solving their beefs with the same local car dealer.
Different customers of DCN Hyundai in South Brunswick were livid for different reasons. Marc Eastmead, for example, had been on the hook for more than $14,000 on a car he traded in last fall.
Sharon and Tom Bie said they paid DCN more than $2,500 for a warranty bundle to cover their new car and were shocked when the warranty administrator said it never received payment from DCN.
7 On Your Side then learned that they were among 200 customer who paid over $100,000 for warranties that may be worthless.
"It was sort of being up the creek without a paddle," Tom Bie said.
When 7 On Your Side went back to DCN for answers, we saw it was under new ownership. The new owner said he was instructed to direct all customers of DCN to its corporate office, but the number doesn't answer, and customers say their emails get no responses.
7 On Your Side then searched for Joe Natale, DCN's owner, but both his company offices in Cranford were closed.
"He's nowhere to be found. He's in the wind!" the Bies said.
Eventually, we tracked him down to his other dealership in Newton.
"I have to ask you about these warranties that people bought from you that now they're saying are worthless. We got 200 people calling me for this," I told Natale when I walked into the dealership.
Natale then said he had to "get something" and walked away. Yet he never returned, two salesmen instead.
We explained the problem, and shortly after we left, customers were paid off! Eastmead got his $14,000 trade-in paid off, and the Bies got their warranty refund, $2686 in full.
In all, we helped return $20,000 to these three customers.
A representative from DCN also said the company sent out checks to 30 other warranty customers.
In terms of plans for other customers, DCN promised it would "set up an 800 number" for them to call. They did not give the number to 7 On Your Side, saying it would send it out to customers themselves.
If you have one of these warranties and want a refund, you can contact 7 On Your Side or the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, who said they're well aware of DCN's problems.
The big takeaway: If you buy a warranty when you buy a car, call the warranty company directly and make sure you are covered. Also, if you trade in a vehicle, get a payoff quote in writing.
Full Statement of DCN Hyundai below:
"South Brunswick Hyundai provided you with self-serving incorrect information. Any customer that has contacted us with any concerns at all have been handled promptly and to their satisfaction as we have already provided you with an example of having done so. There is an unresolved issue between South Brunswick Hyundai and DCN. Until it is resolved DCN is in the process of setting up a 800 number for customers to call with any questions or concerns. DCN will be notifying the customers of this number."
Statement from Dealer Owned Warranty Company:
"At DOWC, our dealer's customers are our customers - and we are in the business of protecting customers. Most of our dealers are reputable businesses, so the circumstances created by the previous owner of DCN Hyundai are unfortunate. DOWC is committed to assisting DCN customers in navigating their service contracts, to the extent possible, and have created an email address specifically for them to send inquiries."
EMAIL ADDRESS FOR DCN WARRANTY CUSTOMERS: firstname.lastname@example.org
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7 On Your Side gets 'worthless warranty' refunds for New Jersey car buyers
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