by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A woman thought she was getting rims and tires for a special price when she bought them from a Charlotte shop.
But she didn't look at the payment plan carefully and got stuck with a $5,000 bill.
Tiawana Miller likes her car to look good.
So she went to Smart Wheels on South Boulevard and bought tires and rims, she thought she was going to spend roughly $1,500, but ended up owing more than triple that.
"I'm not paying $5,000 for rims," Miller said. "$5,000. Who going to pay $5,000 for some rims? I can't afford that."
Action 9 went to Smart Wheels to see her contract.
The general manager showed the rims and tires cost $5,000.
The store put Miller on a payment plan over 18 months, but here's where Miller felt tricked.
The store was offering a special of $1,500 if she could pay it off in 120 days.
She assumed if she stuck with her payment plan she'd make that deadline.
"They gave me the payment plan. They set it up," she said.
She never did the math.
The payment plan wasn't designed to get her to the sale price in 120 days.
It was designed to get her to the full price in 18 months.
So, even though she paid religiously, she came up short for the sale and ended up owing the full $5,000.
The Better Business Bureau tells customers to make sure the payments add up to the total you expect by taking out your calculator.
"Without doing that math, you don't know if you're making the best choice for you," said BBB president Tom Bartholomy.
Miller was so frustrated she told Smart Wheels to come take her tires and rims back.
The store did and kept her money -- nine payments – of $1,300.
If you've been ripped off, overbilled or misled; or if you see something that is hurting all consumers, contact Action 9.