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Customers claim local car lot took away their cars and cash, owner refuses to answer questions

Posted at 9:27 AM, Oct 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 09:46:40-04

5 On Your Side Investigators have heard your complaints questioning the practices at a used car lot in Eastlake. Former customers are furious, claiming the business left them with no car and no refund. We spent months on this hidden camera investigation looking into DB Motors and demanding answers.

News 5 Investigator Jonathan Walsh went to the DB Motors car lot and asked the owner DJ:  "You know that [we’ve] been trying to get ahold of you. Can you talk to us a little bit about the numerous complaints you've had against you?”

DJ walked away without answering any of our questions. Why? Well, let's rewind to earlier this year when Mienyon Smith wanted to buy a car from DB Motors.

“I went in with cash in hand,” she told us. She bought a Chevy Cruze.

The young mother said she put $1,800 down and told the business she got paid a week later than the original payment due date. "[The sales rep] told me that he could call the financial company and let them know, ‘Hey, there was an error.’ "

However, Smith said just one day after that original due date, her car was repossessed, despite language in the contract giving her a ten-day grace period.

"For them to just take my money and my vehicle — and I have children at home and a job to keep, it's totally unfair,” Smith said.

"A lot of people are desperate for a car, you know?" said Rafael Rodriguez, another former customer. In the fall of last year, he saw an ad for DB Motors on Craigslist. “[It said] go see DJ, the owner, and…he treats you really good,” said Rodriguez. “I give him a down payment, he tells you, ‘Don't worry. I got you. You can even drive the car home.  I'll work some banks for you.’"

Rodriguez said about two months later, he thought there was good news. “[DJ] said, ‘I got a bank for you all you got to do is come down here. I have to install a GPS on you,’” explained Rodriguez. “Next thing I know, he closes the door and closes the shop and he tells me, 'Rafael, I'm sorry. I can't get you the car back."

No bank. No deposit back. No car. Rodriguez sued DB Motors to get his down payment back, but lost, because he signed away that right during the sale.

"I'm a widower, three kids, it was Christmas. It was cold,” explained Rodriguez.

Plus, Rodriguez was an Uber driver at the time.  Without a car, he couldn't make money.

“To this day, I'm still paying the price for what he did because he ruined my life because he took away my living," Rodriguez said.

During our investigation, we found 15 complaints against DB Motors filed with the Ohio Attorney General's Office. Among them, a complaint similar to Rodriguez, where a customer claimed he was "told the bank wants to install a GPS.” The claim said DB then took the car and told the customer "the bank rejected the loan."

"DB Motors has a D+ rating with us right now,” said Sue McConnell, the CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland. Its records show the BBB has gotten several complaints against DB Motors.

"They seem, by their advertising, to attract individuals who probably don't have the most stellar credit and they are very excited to be able to buy a vehicle,” said McConnell.

5 On Your Side Investigators went to DB Motors with hidden cameras. We found DJ, asked about cars, and asked about financing.

"What if someone doesn't have that great of credit?” asked our undercover producer.

“We'll see what we can do. We don't make too many promises with customers,” answered DJ.

He went on to say they used to do financing, but not anymore.

"We have many problems,” said DJ. “We got too many problems with the customers. They'll buy but nobody's paying, so...” he said.

“Oh, so you were trying to help them out?” asked our producer.

“Yeah,” DJ replied.

DJ blamed the customers.

Tabatha Spruill was a customer. She says DB Motors told her she qualified for the business' buy-here-pay-here program.

"They showed me a screen. It had a check mark on it that said I was approved,” Spruill said.

However, she said that DB had a change of plans. "They kept the car and they said that it was being repossessed because I didn't qualify for their program…they kept my money,” Spruill said.

And remember Mienyon Smith? At one point in our investigation, we found her Chevy Cruze back on DB’s lot and we showed it to her through Facetime.

"I'm not feeling too happy,” said Smith as she looked at the car.

5 On Your Side Investigators called DJ several times to get his side of the story. We never got a response, so we went to the lot.

"DJ, we've got numerous people on camera wanting to know what you're doing here at this car lot,” we asked while following DJ, who was walking away from us. “Can you talk to us please?” we added just as DJ went into his office, closed the door, and locked it.

Meanwhile, Smith told us her $1,800 deposit meant so much to her. “Oh, my goodness…it took a while to come up with it."

If you are having a problem with a car purchase and can't get it resolved, make sure you file complaints with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau.

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