On Thursday, when I wrote about Character and Greed, I was not thinking of the possibility that the car in my garage may not technically be mine. I purchased the vehicle on Monday afternoon, and wrote a sizable down payment check to the dealership. On Tuesday, the owner was arrested and all his assets were frozen. ALL his assets. Which, in theory, would include the titles to all the vehicles on his lots. Was my paperwork still sitting on the finance manager's desk? Upon checking my on-line bank statement however, I did find that the check had already cleared my account. They got their down payment money.
After unsuccessfully trying to contact the now closed Infiniti dealership, I started making phone calls to the credit union who was doing the financing, along with the tag/title office in our county. What I heard was that the dealer has to send out the paperwork and the title to the tag/title office in order for them to register the vehicle, who then sends it on to the lien holder. This process usually takes several weeks, hence the month long drive out tags on the vehicle. Neither could tell me much, except the nice lady at the credit union did give me the name of the finance person in the dealership's main office and I called her. I got her voice mail, and left her a message to please call me. She did not. As the day wore on, I became more and more concerned that the title to my new vehicle in the garage was tied up in some bankruptcy court.
Finally, on Friday afternoon, I tried one last time to call the dealership, and a familiar voice answered the phone. "Terry? (the sales manager)" I asked. "Yes," he said. "Thank goodness you are there," I told him as I let him know how very sorry I was that all this was happening to them. We chatted for a few minutes about all of the drama going on, and he explained to me that the courts are allowing them to be open on a limited basis so that they can be potentially sold to someone else. I told him of my concerns, and he did confirm that ALL the titles to all the vehicles had been seized by the court. When I told him that my down payment check had already been cleared, he said, "Oh, it has? Good! That means your deal went through then." He again apologized for all the things so beyond his control, assured me he'd call the main finance office for their auto group and make sure it had indeed been processed. He gave me his direct cell phone number and told me to call him on Monday afternoon. I breathed a sigh of relief, though I really won't know until the paperwork is fully submitted and I can get my registration that the deal has been completed.
In the meantime, our community is still reeling from the shock of the biggest car dealership consortium owner in town being brought to his knees by dishonesty and greed. Hundreds of people's lives will be irrevocably changed. On the news, there was an interview with one of the shop mechanics who has worked for the family for over 28 years. There are no words to explain the hurt and sadness. I so hope that some, if not all, of the dealerships will be purchased by reputable dealers and some of these people will be put back to work. Surely something positive will come to offset the pain of the deceit.