Former car dealer tracked down for extended warranty deal

January 26, 2011 6:51:35 PM PST
During the recession, a lot of businesses have changed hands and that can cause problems for loyal customers. Sometimes the new management will not honor the promises made to you by the previous owners.

A Napa woman bought an extended service contract from a local car dealership, but when it came time to cash in on a money back guarantee, no one was around to honor it.

Angela Camp still has the paperwork she signed six years ago. It came with a 100 percent money back guarantee.

"I purchased an extended warranty, guaranteed that if I didn't use it, I'd get my money back," said Camp.

The six-year warranty she purchased for $2,200 was for a new car she bought from Fairfield Toyota. She had several opportunities to file small repair claims, but chose not to hoping to qualify for a full refund. Six years to the day last August, Camp phoned Fairfield Toyota asking for that refund.

"I was told pretty straight forward that the group had been sold and that they were not accepting any financial liability for anything of Thomason's. It was now Momentum Auto Group," said Camp.

Owner Scott Thomason had just sold the dealership to Momentum and if Camp wanted her refund, Momentum told her she would have to get it from Thomason.

"Well the new owner is correct because when a dealer buys another dealership they just buy the assets, and not the liability," said San Francisco consumer attorney Mark Anderson. "So you have to track down the old owner and if necessary, sue them in small claims court or some other way."

All Camp had was a P.O. box for Thomason. Momentum refused to give her a phone number. So she mailed her refund request.

"That mail was never claimed. At least the certified mail was never picked up at the post office box," said Camp.

Last month Camp still hadn't gotten her refund, so 7 On Your Side called Toyota corporate. The next day, a check came from Momentum on a check written from Thomason's bank account.

In an e-mail to 7 On Your Side, Thomason wrote, "I paid the refund to her promptly once I was made aware of the situation." However, 7 On Your Side has a copy of a letter he sent to Camp in October after she first tracked him down.

"I feel that if it wasn't for Channel 7, I would be out $2,200," said Camp.

If a former dealership owner fails to honor an agreement, they can still be sued for up to three years after they sell their business. You can also file a claim against their bond which you can track down by contacting the DMV Occupational Licensing Bureau.