My credit is on the mend. The bill collectors are gone. The phone is quiet. I no longer have a loan in my name. I am awaiting the title in the mail.
To be clear, the only reason i am standing here is because of a finance mole from austin placed into a hotbed of criminal activity to suss out who it was that was involved actively in criminal activity and who was turning a blind eye to what was happening, and a very young salesman they use as bait to hook the customers before selling the vehicles who grew a conscience.
One of two employees involved in selling me the car did not adhere to his signed promise that i made him type up that says the dealership would shred and not process the finance documents if i returned with a cashier’s check for the stated amount within two business days of the initial transaction where i gave them a deposit. Instead of shredding the papers when i returned he filled them out, with his bank account information, and successfully took out a $25,000 loan in my name, absconding with the money…regardless of the fact that my car was totally paid up and a loan was never needed for $25,000. The bill collectors were real because the money was indeed provided and taken, so the finance company expected their payments. However, since it wasnt me who filled out the information regarding billing and mailing address, i did not get any bill for my monthly payments on a loan i didnt know i had and never took out or received. I didnt know 200 dollar payments were supposedly due on the twelfth of every month. Suddenly i had 62 dollars worth of late fees, the bill collectors called every 4 hours, even on weekends, they spoke to me like i was a sleazy criminal, i had to worry about repossession of my only vehicle, and i had paid for the car in full. I called the dealership to discuss what was happening and they told me it was just a scam. Scammers were calling me trying to get me to divulge information or believe they were part of the car dealership but they werent, they were just scammers somewhere in india scamming me. I told them that they had information i gave to the finance person and were missing information i didnt give to the finance person so either they were legit or the car company had a serious data leak and scammers had access to customer information. At this point i did not understand that they were straight up criminals and they knew exactly what i was talking about so i didnt understand why they werent hearing anything i said.
So many people in my life said to me that these people were not criminals, that i was just a jaded individual with a poor outlook on humans and i was making this so complicated when all i had to do was ask to speak to a manager and tell them there had been a mistake. I knew that was not going to work because the guy who had introduced himself as such, the manager, the night when i bought the car, was the worst, most greasy, sleazy one. He was the one who wanted me to sign things without putting anything on the paper. I told him i wasnt going to sign a paper that didnt say something. he would have to write something on the paper and i would have to read and agree to it before i was going to just willy nilly sign a paper with the company logo and the date on it and not much else. I knew there was no reason for this and this was not logical and so i refused to do it, but when everyone said to me “oh you just have to go ask for the manager” i remembered his twinkling wicked eyes and his greasy face and his sly smile and i knew this would be the last thing to bring resolution, to ask for the manager. I knew they had done something criminal. It took me a few days to come to the conclusion that they had done it on purpose, and i used their behavior towards the situation’s aftermath to draw that conclusion. But everyone in my life besides one uncle and a coworker thought i was overthinking a straight forward mistake and nobody down there had done anything criminal.
This was a very hard situation to deal with because not only did most people close to me not believe me. Many were very disappointed in my actions. How could i think that i could go buy a car without a man present? Why didnt i see that they were corrupt individuals when they wanted me to sign things that didnt say much or sign finance papers when i didnt intend to finance? Well now, make up your minds…am i crazy for thinking there’s criminal activity happening and not just believing it was an honest mistake or should i have seen all their corrupt behavior coming and known ahead of time to walk away? You cant condemn me for both. But they did. Few were interested in holding the men accountable for what they did to my life and many were interested in properly dividing the blame up and hanging it on me for various reasons. I find it insulting that people said to me over and over, “oh honey, how on earth could you think of going to buy a car without a man present? They dont respect women. If you had just taken a man, none of this would have happened. They saw you coming a mile away and they took advantage because you’re a woman and you pose no threat.” When all was said and done i found out that this had happened to both men and women for a long time before me. I was just the only customer to get them to put a bunch of stuff in writing on word documents and sign their name to them. I did the guy from Austin a favor. I showed him who exactly was doing it. They had signed their name right on the form. I kept all my receipts and their drawn up word document contracts that i had them sign and i helped the car company bust the crime ring that they couldnt figure out because they were all covering for each other. As to whether the others that have had this happen to them will have their lives fixed, i dont know. As to which of the two men actually made off with the cash, i dont know, as to whether they will be criminally prosecuted and serve jail time, i dont know. I signed a paper that said i could not sue and had agreed to third party mediation for any conflict involving this transaction, and when i asked for clarification about this form and made a joke and the finance guy didnt laugh and instead stared at me with a cold blank look, that was my clue in hindsight that he knew then i’d have a reason i wanted to sue. However, the car company can sue the individuals involved for the cost of paying off all the loans if they choose to make it right with all the customers who have been ripped off and had their credit ruined. I could sue the individual or individuals involved as well if the car company would clarify which one or if both orchestrated this and share the information they have with me. The car company has expressed no willingness to share their info with me even though it was my info that gave them the answer to their question about who was running a criminal operation under their company name. They would rather just make things right with me and have me go away than give me info i can take to the police or the media. Im fine with that. I have no taste for vengeance. I just want my car, my credit, and my life back. But to those who told me i should have seen it coming and i made a mistake by not bringing a man to buy the car, i invite you to note all the men that got taken by these criminals when they bought their cars as well. My real crime was having good credit. My gender didnt dictate whether i became a victim here. My credit did. And as for me being stupid not to see corruption, i did see corruption. The problem was i had no different alternative. Its easy to say, “well you should have stood up and walked out.” I did 3 times. But they convinced me to come back in. My point is, at some point i had to buy a car, and they are all corrupt, so to walk out in favor of going to a non corrupt dealership is not a thing. The people who ruined my life werent even the ones who treated me the worst that day. The Ford dealership treated me the worst. They are bullies and they will pick you apart mentally and emotionally, destroy your sense of self worth, and assassinate your character so that when it comes time to talk dollars you just want to go home and crawl in bed and cry. I knew instinctively i couldnt buy a car from them because they were too good at yelling at me, intimidating me, and befriending me to then turn on me and make me feel poorly about myself. They even made me park their car after the test drive back on their display and critiqued my parking skills mercilessly asking if i even knew how to park a car. They do this on purpose so that you’ve lost all feeling that you should be a respected and fairly treated individual when it comes time to buy. The car they had was way overpriced for the mileage on it and the battery was dead so they had to jump it to start it. The car was basically “as is” but they had a whole rigamarole printed up on a sticker to disguise this for what it was…ie they didnt like the words “as is” but thats what it boiled down to, and they wouldnt let me inspect the car that was going to be basically as is with an independent mechanic. Finally they agreed but the amount of abuse they put me through before their teenage guy was allowed to drive the car across the street to the mechanic, and then the mechanic seemed trustworthy but mentioned that he buys parts from ford and so when he passed the car with not a single thing wrong with it, i had to consider that this guy may be influenced by the fact that he buys parts from ford and i should take the assessment with a grain of salt… in the end i just knew i wasnt going to be negotiating with someone who was that good at learning personal things about me and then using them to make me feel bad about myself before i began to negotiate. They were bullies and they were too good at it for my comfort so i left. In hindsight everyone told me i should have bought from Ford. Ford would not have taken out a loan in my name. Stupid stupid me, why didnt i buy from Ford? For all the reasons i just mentioned. Just because the people i did buy from turned out to be felony level corrupt does not mean Ford was a good option either. They would have sold me a lemon for way too much money and a lot of mileage on it and they would have given me a healthy level of mind games and emotional abuse while doing it. The saleswoman told me that i wouldnt like the other car, id be back by closing time, and i’d buy her car. Im not a person that appreciates being told what i think, what i like, and what im going to do. When she said that she sealed it that i was not buying a car from her. The fact of the matter is, this is the mess that buying a car is these days. I might rather buy from someone on craigslist and have a mechanic check it out before i buy. That used to be the dangerous bit, buying from independent owners, but if they hand you the title, and you’ve had a mechanic you trust check it out, i’d rather pay to fix a minor thing here or there rather than deal with a dealership, because as it turns out, this dealership withheld my title and still has not produced it because as far as they knew i hadnt paid for the car.
I want to make one thing clear here. This was not my fault. I spent hours negotiating with these people and i made decisions based on the behavior and tactics i was seeing all day. I was vigilant. Thats why i had them draw up the papers i did. Because i smelled a rat. Unfortunately they’re all rats so, i cant run every time i smell a rat. I just have to take measures to look out for my interests, and i thought thats what i did. Its not my responsibility to know an employee at a legit car dealership is committing felonies in broad daylight. To all those who have told me what i did wrong in this situation, i invite you to adopt a stance of “how horrible, the dealership employees should not have done that.” And leave me be. Trust me, i am suffering enough without your blame.
this thing is more deeply embedded than you think. I reported them to the company’s consumer affairs department and they stated that they would need 1 to 3 business days to conclude their investigation. By noon on the first business day the investigation was concluded. They had no findings to share and they sent me an email that said they couldnt get involved in a dispute between a customer and a dealership and invited me to go back to the dealership in an effort for resolution. They told me they’d told the dealership to call me within two days and resolve the issue, were sorry id had a bad experience at their company, and were working hard to make sure other customers did not have the same experience in the future. Nobody ever called me. I called them and called them and called them. They laughed at me, mocked me, dared me to hire an attorney, hung up on me, left me on hold forever, transferred me to several different answer machines…lied and told me the employee in finance who ended up resolving the issue didnt exist, told me people i needed to speak to were at lunch, not working that day, or in a meeting, constantly changed the department they said i needed to speak to.
An attorney advised me that if i waited for them to repossess the car i could sue for wrongful repossession but i had signed the form that said i wouldnt sue for the transaction of buying the car. However, if i let them repossess the car i didnt have a vehicle and couldnt drive two towns over daily for work. If i couldnt get to work i lost my job. The patients would have to be seen. They would have to replace me.
The dealership took a stance that i was all paid up and i was just letting a scammer get to me, i was just being a crazy paranoid difficult woman. So i couldnt easily bring this to the police because in the eyes of the law it looked like they were cooperating and totally blameless. I did call the Sherriff’s office but it was the weekend and the recording told me what button to push for each issue to report and according to the options, this was not yet a crime. I had to amass some kind of evidence to prove my point.
I called the car company’s consumer affairs line and pressed the number for billing. It said that i owed 200 dollars plus $62 in late fees for missing my payment on my loan on the 12th. I now had legit evidence that the bill collectors were not scammers. I began amassing evidence and paperwork and drove to town and spent $28 at office max printing copy after copy of all my evidence. I made myself a case while i was waiting for the attorney in austin (very good one) that i had used years ago to get out of a lease where the apartment had stinging florida carpenter ants and black mold to return my call. I tried to think “what would he do?” And “what would he look for” when i was amassing evidence and putting my case together. When he finally called back i had made some headway towards resolution but he agreed to take the case if they do not produce the title within a timely manner now that this is resolved and he said there are three things that they have done here that would release me from my agreement not to sue because of the wording on their form. If they produce the title im happy to move on with life and forget this. If not, he’s a **** of an attorney with 30+ years experience and endless knowledge. The fact that he’s willing to take the case if their effort to get me the title stagnates gives me peace of mind.
A group of 60 to 80 year old ladies offered to go down to the dealership with me that day and i took off from work to do it but i didnt really want to go with them. I knew they were up to criminal activity at this point and the ladies still believed they were good christian men and it was all a simple misunderstanding. I felt like what i was trying to do here might get muddied with these conflicting views on the situation and i didnt think they were going to get anything done with their “we know you just made a mistake” approach to the hornets nest of sleazeballs. Last minute my mother and i were fighting and she asked what i wanted and what i wanted was for her to come with me. I was tired and i wanted somebody else to take the reigns. She knew they were sleazy. She didnt have the misconception that they were good christian men. Maybe she could take the reigns and i could rest a moment. She brought her aggressive possessive dog who didn’t like anyone but her and a select few of her friends. It didnt take orders or sit in the back seat. It insisted upon sitting on me and the console. I wasnt thrilled about it being there but i figured she would present more of a problem for the dealership than me and she didnt seem all that interested in eating me when i didnt have a dog that wasnt her in my hands. So, i even lifted her back in the car when she had to go poop in the rain and apparently couldnt lift her back end up on the seat and mom had thrown her back out so couldnt do it. Anyways, we ended up at the dealership at 3 pm because that was when mom could do it, with all my paperwork, and the attack dog locked in the car in the parking lot front row facing the windows of the dealership lobby full of customers and salesmen. We entered and i said i needed to speak to finance. The guy crossed his arms, blocked my way with his body, and asked why i thought i needed to speak to finance. The others crowded around him. I saw the young man that had been my salesman and as i told the big goon my scenario and said i had bought the car outright and yet according to the company i had a loan payment overdue the guy raised an eyebrow and stepped closer, cutting off my route to finance. The young salesman pushed through the group and shook my hand telling the goon that he remembered me and i was all paid up, i bought the car outright, and i needed to speak to the guy in finance. I noticed that he said a specific name, not just finance. It was the name another salesman had told me i needed to speak to and when i had called to do so whoever answered tried to convince me he didnt exist or work there. He took me and mom straight to this guy’s office and explained the scenario. This gentleman looked genuinely surprised and concerned, specifically by the paper i had him sign, drawn ip in a word document, stating he would shred the finance paperwork if i came back with a cashier’s check. He then let me know that this was a very big problem, one that they needed to make right, and that he had been put here by the company two months ago to figure out who was doing this because i was not the first customer this had happened to. But at this point, everyone involved had said they were trying to help me, and they all turned out to be part of it, even at the consumer affairs office, so when he said he was going to help me, i think i believed him 25 percent. I couldnt be sure he wasnt one of them. My skeptical mind said actions speak louder than words so if he follows through and helps me, i’ll believe he’s helping me. I was angry but calm. I knew my eyes were on fire and my face was red but i was quiet and measured and when i spoke i chose my words decisively. I chose down to the point, straight forward, and powerful words. I pulled it together for go time and surprised myself, betraying my earlier breakdown, the days of crying, the therapy session that had gotten me nowhere and resolved nothing, and the very real danger of me ending my life facing a car company who didnt believe me, a police force who couldnt do anything, a paper that said i wouldnt sue, attorneys that said they’d call back and then never did, one great attorney i couldnt yet get ahold of… i was in a situation where i was about to lose my car. If i lost my car i couldnt get to work. If i couldnt work i lost my ability to pay the massive adjustable rate mortgage. If i couldnt make the mortgage payments the bank would take my land, my house, my fruit trees, and i wouldnt be able to keep my australian shepherd without the land…. If i lost this car i’d lose everything. I’d lose the ability to even make it to a place of business that sold food. I didnt live on a bus route. I lived in the middle of nowhere. I had spent $25,000 on a car they were about to repossess. If they did, i didnt have another $25,000 lying around to purchase another car. Then there was the matter of i owed a finance company an additional $25,000 i couldnt pay because i never received the loan and i couldnt make the money at work to pay it without a car to get there. I was now in a reality where i would be out $50,000 and have no vehicle to speak of. I didnt understand how this was allowed to happen in broad daylight and there was no way for me to stop them ruining my life and taking everything i’d worked for. I had made up my mind. If i lost the car, the job, and the land… i didnt want to be here anymore. I was out of reasons for why i’d be here in this realm doing anything. If you are puzzled as to how quickly i descended into this mindset just throw in a baseline of lifelong chronic depression and have bill collectors call you every four hours for a week and see how clearly you are thinking, see if your perception of reality has changed. Every time i began to feel like myself again, remember who i was, the bill collectors would call again and talk to me as if i was a criminal, a low-down dirty person who had skipped out on their responsibilities and was about to have their life ruined for doing so and should be ashamed of themselves for who they were and the way they were wired. I worked hard to build my little homestead, my little life. I put my blood sweat and tears into that property. I loved my job. I was a rule follower and i had never skipped out on anything. If i say im going to do something, i do it, so just to be referred to as a person who was the exact opposite of this every four hours was killing me. I tried to reason with them but they always thought i was lying and they just recycled their spiel again and again like robots. They thought i was just another liar trying to skip out on loan payments. Anyways, i digress.
I left the man with a thought. The salesman had said that the company wanted my business for life, not just with this car. If this is what happens when i buy a car, if when i have a legit problem i need to talk about and they mock me and dare me to hire an attorney, im not coming back for the next car. It felt like i was finally speaking to a person and not a sleazeball. He didnt read like one of them but i couldnt be sure. He said there was a loan in my name. The dealership was going to have to cut a check and pay it off. Then they would have to write a letter petitioning them to fix my credit. Once the loan was paid it would look like the car was paid up and the car company would release the title to my mailing address.
1 week later i called the finance company and my first clue that the guy had been legit and a man of his word when he said he’d help me was that the robot i was dealing with couldnt find an account attached to me. I pressed zero and spoke to the operator who transferred me to someone who could check my account for sure. She said the balance was paid in full, including late fees, and my account had been closed. The guy from austin in finance wrote a letter petitioning them to fix my credit. The bill collectors stopped calling but i had blocked some numbers when i realized i was on the edge of ending it and so i could not be sure if they were done calling or just gearing up with a new number to call me from. The car is mine now. They cant come take it. I can start leaving things in it again rather than taking everything out each time i park somewhere. Nobody is calling me and talking to me like im a liar and a criminal. Im awaiting the arrival of the title with a good attorney on hand in austin if it doesnt arrive soon.
When i left the young salesman who sold me the car was sitting at a cubicle outside the finance guy from austin’s office. He had listened to the whole conversation. He had his head down on the desk. I’ll never know whether he was devastated because he didnt know the extent of what they were doing, felt guilty for his part, or was anticipating the fallout for him, having vouched for me and led me to the finance guy from austin’s office. All i know is that i had assessed him to be a good person, not like the rest of them, and when this unfolded one of the things i was troubled by was what was going to happen to the souls of the young teens and twenty year olds they dressed up and put out there to lure people in for the kill? I felt like all these young people were on the wrong path and i worried he would spend eternity in flames for the kind of work they were doing there and i felt like he wasnt beyond reaching, wasnt beyond change. He still had a soul and i felt that and i knew there wasnt one in either of the two guys that had me sign papers or any of the goons that guarded the path to finance. When i saw him with his head down on the desk i knew he had a conscience and he was going to be okay. He would find his way out of this. He would be somebody’s husband and father some day. He would repent and change directions. I didnt feel this immense danger for his soul anymore. His whole body posture had changed and he seemed deflated. This notion that salesmen are perfect and confident and know everything, is a lie. Its a sell tactic. They’re well groomed and smiley and have perfect posture and broad shoulders and its all meant to sell you a car. Shoulders slumped, head down, he seemed small, and it gave my soul comfort because i knew he was real again. He was a person. It was strange for me to realize i wasnt young anymore, that there was a whole generation of people beneath me, but realize i did, and i worried about who they were becoming, having grown up with unfettered access to technology and no idea how to write cursive…signing everything with a line drawn across the screen…these people would replace me as adults when i went into my old age. I wanted them to be solid, real, and kind hearted, and it troubled me that this did not appear to be happening in a faster and faster paced world where quotas and time expectations became tighter and tighter and people became paid less and less to do more and more. They were coming into a cut-throat world where “every man for himself” seemed the rule and i worried about what kind of world we were creating by raising this next generation in this way. Their expectation of reality was different from mine, as mine was different from my mother’s and my mother’s was different from my grandmother’s. I needed that salesman to flip on the guys possibly more so i could have hope for the generation coming after me than for my own sake and financial situation. It just became too easy to wonder for a moment why the heck i would want to be part of a system or reality where this was accepted, the norm, and allowed to stand. Sometimes i think the corruption of this world becomes too much for me to bear. My coworker that stopped the sixty year old peer from finishing the story about the dog…she says thats why we have to protect carefully what we consume. But, im not sure thats right. If you turn a blind eye to all the corruption, are you not adding to it? What if the young salesman or the guy from austin had chosen not to see? If we ignore corruption it becomes the norm for the next generation. We have to stick in there and peel it open and get into the nitty gritty of whats going on. And people are going to get hurt and its going to be messy, because corruption never goes down without a fight. God doesnt promise a peaceful strife free life. He promises one full of suffering and strife and he promises to lead you through it. I think, if i wash my hands of or turn a blind eye to this, nobody following behind our generation will ever have that moment where their eyes are opened and they repent and turn to God. This very nearly ruined my life but a whole bunch of people are going to be believed now and the dealership will probably have to cut them checks to pay their loans and pursue the criminals to recoup their losses. A guy from austin can shorten the length of his assignment now with names on paper. And a young salesman will likely make a summer job out of what could have been a long and unethical career. Or maybe he will stay and try to change what car selling is, but hes not going to be part of a crime ring now. I dont have an answer. I cant wrap this up with a neat bow. Im still very jaded about humans, there’s a great deal of residual depression, and im still very aware of how close i came to not being here. There were some hard questions to think about like would i go to **** for taking a life that God gave me that gave me pause and probably bought me time for resolution to come about. I struggle with why God gave us the gift of salvation. Sometimes i cannot see what he would have seen in us. I struggle sometimes with what is good in humanity and at times i think the only part of us that is worth anything is when we allow God to work through us on behalf of others. God is good but what is man without him? Clay? It doesnt seem like. It seems like without God we are inherently messy and vindictive creatures. That i struggle with, and i will probably always struggle with it. But i hope God continues to drag me back from the brink of wanting to throw in the towel and the desolation of my lack of understanding each time so that i am still here when there is something beautiful to witness.
A side note about the sixty year old man that shot a dog when he was twelve… i heard him tell a patient the other day that he’s been on a spiritual journey for about forty years now to become a better person and go more in the direction that God would have him. He said in the past 15 years he’d made a decision not to condemn himself for past mistakes because it doesnt fix anything, it doesnt serve anyone, and God knows what he’s done and God has forgiven him. And the tears that had been missing from his eyes when he told us that story in a matter of fact way days before were suddenly there. And the presence of that water in his eyes told me that in the past 15 years he had made a decision to try not to condemn himself, not that he had released himself from blame, because he was blaming himself now in this moment. He had merely made the realization that indeed it did not fix or change anything to do so. I thought about the sentence “God uses broken people to reach others.” I thought about all the people i had influenced in my life, all the people this man in his sixties had brought scripture, understanding, empathy, and healing to… we are thoroughly flawed. And yet God uses us to reach others, perhaps because there can be no doubt that it is God working through us, because we are so broken, we’d be powerless to help ourselves, much less anybody else, without him.