JACKSONVILLE, Florida –A major Jacksonville car dealership, Riverside Chevrolet, faces more than a dozen customer complaints that all say the same thing: The dealership is not paying back loans on their trade-ins. Because of this, customers’ credit scores are ruined.
I-TEAM investigated the complaints this week, and by late afternoon the Northeast Florida Better Business Bureau issued an alert to alert potential customers. The BBB also gave Riverside Chevrolet an F rating.
UPDATE: Riverside Chevrolet responds
We have found that many of the complaints come from serving members or former military personnel who say they are getting ripped off with serious consequences.
Veteran loses hope of buying his house
U.S. Navy veteran Marie Wright drove to Riverside Chevrolet on Philips Highway in December to buy her dream car. She used the vehicle she was driving as a trade-in with an agreement that the dealership would pay the balance.
She started making payments on her brand new car, trying to build her credit as she and her husband were about to buy their first home with a VA loan.
The day they were due to close the house, they found out that they were not eligible.
“My credit dropped by at least 30 points. My husband lost a little more than that,” Wright said.
Their credit scores plummeted due to late payments for the car she traded in.
“So therefore, we didn’t have the house,” she said. “We put a photo on Facebook, we have this house.”
Embarrassed and frustrated, the couple discovered that Riverside Chevrolet had failed to repay the loan on Wright’s swap as promised, which meant she had been in arrears with the bank for three months.
“No one would give me any kind of call, any kind of response, email, nothing,” Wright said of the dealership.
Wright said she went to sit at the dealership to ask management to give her a refund check to take to her bank. When she finally received it, she left and realized that the check was not good because it was not signed.
She returned to Riverside Chevrolet and eventually got a signed check as well as a letter from the dealership accusing the late payments. But, Wright said his bank told him there was nothing they could do with the letter – which meant his family of five was forced to rent a house for another year, unable to own one due to ‘bad credit.
Sailor on active duty fears losing his security clearance
Ryan Gary is currently serving with the Navy in Jacksonville. He went to Riverside Chevrolet to buy a truck for his family of six. He said he decided to buy there because of the military discount offered and some perks.
“The experience was a horrible experience,” Gary told I-TEAM.
He claims Riverside Chevrolet tried to add $ 2,000 that he didn’t know to the final price. He said the dealership also promised him a free cruise that he never had.
But just like Marie Wright, he too had an impact on his credit rating because his trade-in, a Mercedes valued at $ 29,000, was not refunded.
“It was very frustrating. I spent three very stressful months trying to get them to pay for this car,” he said.
Gary is now concerned that his poor credit, created by the dealership’s failure to pay off his trade-in for months, could affect his security clearance with the military.
“It’s a big deal for me, for everyone,” he said. “I feel pretty exploited.”
When I-TEAM asked Gary what his message would be to others, he replied, “Stay away. Stay away from Riverside Chevrolet.”
Complaint filed with BBB against Riverside Chevrolet
As of May 2017, 26 complaints have been filed with the Northeast Florida Better Business Bureau against Riverside Chevrolet.
“Unfortunately, they haven’t been in business for a long time and they’ve racked up quite a few complaints. All of them about the same situation,” said Shannon Nelson of the BBB.
Fifteen of those 26 complaints claimed that the dealership failed to reimburse the trade-in vehicles, which caused credit problems for customers.
“It sounds like mismanagement,” Nelson said. “They don’t end up sticking to the end of the contract they sign with consumers.”
According to the BBB, affected customers can try to repair their credit, but they will have to defend their own account.
Nelson said customers should gather all of their paperwork and write what is called a “goodwill letter” to major credit bureaus.
Equifax: PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 1-800-685-1111.
Experian: PO Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-0949 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
TransUnion – PO Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022 1-800-916-8800.
State and General Motors review Riverside Chevrolet
In a simple search online, you will find dozens of negative reviews for Riverside Chevrolet, and it has caught the attention of the Florida agency that regulates dealerships as well as General Motors, the owner of Chevrolet.
When I-TEAM contacted General Motors Company, Senior Manager James Cain emailed us this statement.
“We are aware of the situation and will take appropriate action. I’m afraid that’s (all) we can say at this point. “
We also contacted the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the agency that regulates dealerships. Deputy Director of Communications Alexis Bakofsky said:
“The department has received three complaints for a total of seven violations since the dealership obtained its license on October 28, 2016. These complaints are closed and / or resolved at this time.
The FLHSMV asks anyone who has filed a complaint against Riverside Chevrolet to fill in this form and send them the appropriate address listed on the last page.
News4Jax wants to report the dealership side
For two days, I-TEAM traveled to Riverside Chevrolet to get answers from general manager Damon Ferguson.
“He said he (Damon Ferguson) is definitely in a meeting and is ready to talk to you with no problem,” the receptionist told us on the first day we left.
We waited, but Ferguson never came to speak to us and never called us.
We returned to Riverside Chevrolet for a second day.
“Sorry to bother you again, but never heard back from him,” I-TEAM told the receptionist.
At 9:01 p.m. Thursday, Ferguson sent I-TEAM the following statement:
At Riverside Chevrolet, we are committed to serving our customers and especially those who serve in our military. While we cannot discuss any customer credit or funding situation due to privacy laws, we can tell you that every effort is made to complete every customer transaction in the most professional manner. If indeed an error has been made on our part, we will do everything in our power to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. We regret any unintended consequences this may have caused. “
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