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Tipline Investigation: Buying a car online, not as easy as it looks

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Our News Channel Tipline Investigation exposes problems with one of the big online car dealers, Vroom.

It's commercials make the process look so easy. Buy a vehicle online and Vroom will deliver right to your front door. However, it's not always that easy.

Caterina Scordato had just moved from Chicago to Santa Barbara in September, 2021 and she needed a car. She found a white, 2015 Volkswagen on Vroom and starting reading reviews about the company.

"I mean, they were pretty awful. Like, not good," said Scordato. "And that didn't scare you?" asked News Channel Reporter C.J. Ward. "I mean, I was definitely a little bit scared, but I was also desperate," explained Scordato.

She even called Vroom and spoke with a salesmen who she said, promised her everything would be great.

"They were extremely responsive. Granted, they want to sell you a car," said Scordato.

So, she bought it and almost instantly started seeing red flags.

"They gave me temporary tags and it said November 2021," said Scordato.

That’s when the tags expired, which they did. Now, Scordato had a car she couldn’t drive, she had no title or registration and she was making payments on it.

She called Vroom to get answers.

“They were like, ‘Rest assured, we got your stuff, we’re working on it.’ Blah, blah, blah,” said Scordato.

December goes by, it’s now 2022.

“They’re like, ‘We’re working on this.’ Yadda, yadda, yadda,” said Scordato.

More months go by and she still can’t drive the car, but she’s making her payments.

“Continued to call them, no answer,” said Scordato.

She said Vroom ignored her emails and one representative even hung up the phone on her.

She also contacted the DMV, but that didn’t work.

A year goes by and one day, the cops show up to impound the car.

“They went into their system and looked up the license plate and said the car was not registered anywhere in the United States,” said Scordato.

Now, she’s thinking, 'Is the car stolen? What’s going on?'

Scordato and her boyfriend, Marc McKittrick, explained to the officers the Vroom hell they’ve been in and the police took mercy on them.

“What the cop told me to do was, ‘If you want to park it on private property there’s going to be no issue. But if you leave it on the street we’re going to check once a week to make sure the car is not on the street because if it is, we’ll impound it,’” explained McKittrick.

So, they parked it off the Street.

Then, more mystery, Sordato went to make her monthly payment and Chase Bank told her, Vroom paid off her car loan.

“What does that mean? I called Vroom and sure enough, of course they have no idea what I’m talking about. ‘We’ll look further into this, we’ll call you back,’” said Scordato.

But she said Vroom never did call back. By the time Scordato called the News Channel Tipline for help, Vroom had given her a rental car. 

“I’ve cried about it,” said Scordato.

“We were lenient and patient and it’s gotten to the point where this is now getting harmful to us,” said McKittrick.

Your News Channel called Vroom and received a quick response from a spokesman who promised to look into Scordato’s complaint.

“I admit. At this point, I thought Vroom would resolve the problem pretty quickly. Boy, was I wrong. I spent five months going back and forth with Vroom. But, in the end it all worked out,” said Ward.

In February, after almost a year and a half, Scordato finally received her license plate and registration. 

“Oh my gosh, I couldn’t have done it without you. Truly, because that’s when things started to happen. We’re so appreciative of everything you’ve done,” said Scordato to the News Channel.

Vroom sent us a written statement for this story:

Vroom is committed to creating the best customer experience possible. Over the last year, our focus on evolving our titling and registration through improved technology and processes has resulted in significant improvements in customers receiving their titles and registrations on time. 

We regret that Ms. Scordato did not have the experience we strive to deliver. We maintained communication with Ms. Scordato throughout the process and provided her with a rental car so she was never without transportation.

Vroom also explained Scordato's loan was not paid off. A spokesman said Chase Bank transferred the loan back to Vroom because of the registration problems. Scordato told The News Channel the terms of the new loan are better than the first loan she had and it's saving her about $4,000.

Article Topic Follows: News Channel 3 Investigates

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C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter. To learn more about C.J., click here


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