They Think They Own You
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- In September 2013, I had a car repossessed due to bad choices on my part. Knowing full and well I couldn't finance another car through a reputable source, I went to ECA and purchased a 2007 Toyota Yaris for $9,996.00. My payment was $300.00 a month ($149.00/biweekly), and I was told that the reason the car was so high in price was due to the warranty.
After having my car for less than 30 days, the blower in the AC/heat went out. The warranty department fixed it for free, but dealing with the warranty department was a huge pain. You have to drop off your vehicle and be without a car for at least a day, which is terrible if you only have one car in the family. I had belt problems that always squealed when the weather was cool or moist, and I took it to ECA Warranty three separate times to have it fixed. I also had a mechanism in the fuel system leave me stranded on the side of the road once, and had to pay the $100.00 deductible to have it fixed through their warranty.
They put a GPS tracker in the vehicle, along with a kill switch. I was dedicated to never being behind on my car payments, so they were always withdrawn the same day I got paid so the money would always be there. One day, I stepped out of work to go to lunch and my car was dead. Originally I thought it was the battery, but I called ECA anyway to see if it had been shut off on their end. When I talked to her, I asked if, for some reason, my last payment hadn't gone through (even though it showed up on my bank statement) and she said, "Yeah, but we just had a glitch so it shut down your car." I asked why I hadn't been notified earlier about the glitch, and she said, "Well, you know now." So basically, even though I'd made every payment and never been at all late, my car was deactivated. I called back later and asked to speak to the manager, and I was rebuffed and told that I had no reason to complain because my car was back on.
I talked to my bank and they agreed to refinance my auto loan at a much lower rate (I went from 23% to 8.49, which is wonderful for someone with a discharged Ch. 7). I called and asked for a payout, which was faxed to me. I was sick that week, so I never made it to the bank and another car payment went through. The next week, I called again requesting an updated 10 day payout. He started to verbally tell me the payout, and when I asked for a written payout, he rudely refused. I said, "I have a payout that was faxed to me two weeks ago, I don't understand why I can't get an updated payout," and he said, "Whoever sent you that shouldn't have, I can't send you another one." I asked how I was supposed to give my bank the information when they needed it in written form, and he said, "Uh, you just use the old one?" in a very condescending manner. I told him the old one was no longer accurate in terms of my balance, and he said that wasn't his problem. So I got frustrated and hung up. He called me back shortly and told me that even though it wasn't his problem, he would email me my payout "just this once". Finally, I got the stupid thing in writing.
Today, I called their finance office to see about dropping off the check for the full amount. They told me to drop it off at the branch from which I bought the car. My loan manager at my bank then did so at 11:30 a.m. I called ECA at 1:00 p.m. to make sure the check had been received, and was told that the check was supposed to be dropped off at their headquarters, which is across town. No one told me this information before that phone call. I have a car payment scheduled to be auto withdrawn this Saturday, and I was told it would take 3 days to cancel the auto withdrawal feature. I asked them if I would receive a refund for the $149.00, since that payment would technically be an overpayment once the bank's check is processed, and she said, "Maybe."
Overall, I knew what I was getting into when buying a car from them. They Target a very shady demographic of people that are bad with money, so it makes sense to overcharge so they aren't losing money. That being said, I had a naive thought that they would treat me with respect because I pay my bill on time, I keep insurance on my car, and I give them no issues. Never have I been late on a payment, never have I let my insurance lapse, and never have I done anything to warrant being treated with a lack of respect. Despite all of this, I still got to experience having my car deactivated due to a "glitch". Imagine trying your hardest to pay all your bills on time and be a perfect consumer and being punished by your car not turning on. I was at work, my car wouldn't start, and I was horrified people would think it was because I was irresponsible. There is no reason for ECA to have such terrible customer service. There is no reason why people that are following the rules should be made to feel so small and humiliated.
If you are in the terrible position of buying a car from them, hear me now: finance with them, then try your hardest to get the loan refinanced somewhere else. They will treat you like crap once they realize you won't be giving them that 18-23% anymore, but you will be free.