‘A rat race’: Driver blames Vroom for license plate issues

CHARLOTTE — Some people who bought cars on the popular website Vroom can’t legally drive their cars because of issues with their temporary and permanent license plates.

Shanel Joseph-Kouri bought a Tesla on Vroom. She said the company provided a temporary tag for the car, but it expired in April. Now she has a car and is paying for it, but she can’t legally drive it.

She told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke that she contacted Vroom multiple times before the tag expired and the company promised to take care of it, but didn’t.

“It was phone call after phone call, a rat race,” she said. “We weren’t going to get a temp tag and there was no sort of recourse except to wait.” So, Joseph-Kouri contacted Action 9.

Stoogenke emailed the company and the next day, Joseph-Kouri said Vroom called and offered her a rental car until she got her tag. She said the company also offered to buy back her Tesla, but because she was in the process of buying a house, she didn’t know if that would impact her credit.

“We’re just at the mercy of Vroom,” she said. “It’s incredibly disappointing and I feel like we’ve been taken advantage of and, if I could do it all again, I probably wouldn’t have bought the car from them.”

Vroom did not explain what went wrong with Joseph-Kouri’s case. The company’s email to Stoogenke stated: “We regret any customer not having the positive experience Vroom strives to deliver. We are actively working with (name omitted) and Ms. Joseph-Kouri to resolve their issues as quickly as possible so they can fully enjoy the vehicle they purchased from us.”

Three other people shared similar stories with Stoogenke. One person said his son could not get anyone to return his calls concerning another temporary tag and the status of the permanent tag.

Cyclone Covey, a lawyer who represents Vroom customers, told Stoogenke that his firm had taken almost 200 cases from folks across the country like these. “People aren’t able to drive the vehicle. They can’t sell the vehicle. If a car gets totaled, they’re stuck because they can’t file a claim and pursue the claim because they can’t provide the title to the insurance company,” Covey said.

At last check, the Better Business Bureau gave Vroom an “F” rating and had an alert on its website. Among the reasons listed for Vroom’s rating and alert were long delays in consumers receiving their registrations, titles and plates.

Vroom does not have a dealership in North Carolina, so the Department of Motor Vehicles can’t take action against the company.

Recently, Vroom announced plans to open an Extended Mile hub in Statesville. The DMV told Stoogenke that the hub does not qualify as a dealership.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office could take legal action. It said it had received 50 complaints against Vroom for tag, title, and other issues.

The attorney general for Texas, where Vroom is based, sued the company in April. The lawsuit claims “hundreds of consumers” ended up with “expired temporary tags and with no evidence of ownership.”

Stoogenke asked Vroom why tag and title issues appear to be a widespread problem. The company did not respond in time for this report.

If you shop on Vroom:

- If the Vroom contract you get has an arbitration clause, you can opt out, which would allow you to sue later if it comes to that.

- If you have a problem and Vroom asks you for more information, you should provide it. But be cautious about signing anything. You don’t want to limit your rights.

- Ask for a rental car if you can’t drive the one you bought.

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