Confused customers with cars, but no official proof of ownership.
What started off as routine purchase for a Franklin family has turned into a nightmare. They are now left trying to figure out how to get their title and registration from a car dealership that's no longer in business.
"My previous vehicle had over a 150,000 miles, so I decided it was time to go get a new car," Rebecca Benisch said.
When it came time to look for a new car, Rebecca says Lawrence Marshall in Hempstead was the first place that came to mind.
"I spent about a week looking. Then, I purchased it on the 23rd of January," she said.
The Ford Escape seemed to have everything she needed. But when the title and registration never showed up, she and her dad began to worry.
"I called down there and all I got was no answer, busy signals, or answering machines," Rebecca's dad, Michael Benisch said.
"Once again, we do apologize for any inconvenience," an answering machine recording for the dealership says.
That's when they found out the mega-car dealership had closed its doors.
"What am I supposed to do? I'm supposed to have plates," Rebecca said. "I'm active duty Army, so I have to be able to get on post, so I have to have some sort of plates temporary or permanent in order to drive on to post to get to work everyday."
Rebecca made a few more calls, but found no answers, and time is running out.
"This is the original tag it expires February 13th, today's date," Michael said.
"We've had some people contact us. They're concerned. Their paper tags from the dealership are running out," Brazos County Tax Collector Kristeen Roe said.
Roe says while normal procedures for dealing with a permanent closure of a business could include: "Go with a title hearing, request a title hearing from the tax collector, do a bonded title or actually go through court to get their title registration," Roe said.
She adds in this case, since it's unclear if Lawrence Marshall plans to stay closed forever, re-open or file for bankruptcy, the best option for consumers is to do the bonded title procedure, which can be costly.
"Buy a bond for the value of the vehicle through their insurance company," Roe said.
"That's a little ridiculous to have to pay twice," Michael Benisch said.
Rebecca's dad has already had to pay $25 for temporary tags, which will buy them another 30 days. But if a door doesn't open soon, Rebecca will be dealing with the problem long distance.
"I already have orders. I'm going to Virginia in April, so I'm trying to get this sorted out before I drive cross-country," Rebecca said.
For more information on what action consumers can take, click on the links below:
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