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Column: Hyundai disavows dealer who abandoned people’s cars

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#Column #Hyundai #disavows #supplier #deserted #peoples #vehicles

We’ve all received bizarre experiences to share concerning the coronavirus. Olivia Vera could have one of many weirdest.

She dropped off her automobile at a Culver Metropolis supplier in March due to engine hassle. The supplier subsequently had the automobile towed away as companies all through the area closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The towing firm then slapped Vera with hundreds of {dollars} in charges for taking within the deserted car.

As if issues couldn’t get any worse, the 26-year-old Westwood resident confronted the very actual prospect of her automobile being offered off this week if she didn’t present up on the storage yard with a bag of money (and money solely, no checks or bank cards).

“That is completely not what I believed would occur once I dropped off my automobile on the supplier,” Vera informed me. “Who would have anticipated one thing like this?”

I’ve spoken with many individuals because the coronavirus ended shopper life as we all know it, and I’ve heard all method of grievance, from refunds unpaid to firms that couldn’t be reached as a result of they’d furloughed almost everyone.

However what occurred to Vera — and a couple of dozen different individuals who introduced their vehicles for repairs to Nissani Brothers Hyundai — represents a brand new low in service (or lack thereof).

“It’s stunning,” Vera stated. “How may one thing like this occur?”

On this case, all roads apparently result in Hooman Nissani, co-owner of a string of Southern California car dealerships, together with native showrooms for Nissan, Chrysler and Chevrolet.

Nissani was ordered final yr to pay $2.4 million in again pay and penalties to settle what state officers known as California’s largest wage-theft case. A carwash he owned allegedly cheated 64 employees out of minimal wages and time beyond regulation over three years.

Neither Nissani nor any of his companies may very well be reached for remark. However in making an attempt telephone numbers related to Nissani, I reached a person who refused to offer his identify however recognized himself as a supervisor of the Hyundai dealership.

He was in a position to reply questions on Vera’s 2019 Hyundai Kona, equivalent to when she dropped it off and when it was towed away, so he clearly had entry to the corporate’s data.

This individual informed me Nissani Brothers Hyundai closed in March due to the coronavirus however would reopen quickly.

He stated a handful of vehicles — “fewer than 5” — have been towed from the lot after the dealership repeatedly tried to contact the house owners concerning the impending coronavirus closure and the necessity for them to take possession of their automobiles.

Vera and different clients who’re complaining of mistreatment have it fallacious, the person stated. “There are two sides to each story,” he insisted.

True. However that doesn’t make each side right.

Jim Trainor, a Hyundai spokesman, informed me the closure of the Nissani Brothers dealership had much less to do with the coronavirus than it did a deteriorating enterprise relationship.

He stated the shutdown adopted weeks of unhealthy blood between the supplier — with Hooman Nissani working the enterprise — and the company headquarters.

“This dealership voluntarily ended its relationship with Hyundai on April 6, not represents Hyundai as one among its sellers and is closed,” Trainor stated.

“Previous to the closing of the dealership, this supplier moved automobiles that had been dropped off for service to an off-site facility to be able to vacate the property, with out informing Hyundai nor the shoppers who had automobiles on the dealership for service and restore,” he stated.

Hyundai is conscious of no less than 11 vehicles being towed, Trainor stated.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this has prompted to the impacted clients and we pledge to make this proper,” he stated.

The dealership is at present fenced off. Cranes and building gear are seen from the road.

Jared Scott-Ransom, 26, is one other Nissani Brothers Hyundai buyer whose 2018 Elantra was towed from the lot after he dropped it off for transmission work.

He informed me nobody notified him concerning the automobile being eliminated. The truth is, Scott-Ransom stated, he lives close to the Culver Metropolis dealership and stopped by in mid-March to see how the work was coming.

“They stated they have been nonetheless ready for components and didn’t know when the work could be completed,” he recalled. “They stated they’d let me know.”

Now, Scott-Ransom stated, he’s reporting the matter to state and federal authorities, and is contemplating a lawsuit in opposition to Nissani Brothers.

For her half, Vera conveyed a tangled story of not having the ability to obtain a straight reply from the supplier, the Hyundai head workplace or the Lengthy Seashore towing firm, E3 Collision, which she stated was billing her $150 a day in storage costs.

Vera stated E3 knowledgeable her final week {that a} lien had been positioned on her car and it could be offered off this week if she didn’t pony up about $6,000 in money.

Nobody on the towing firm returned my requires remark.

Hyundai stepped up its recreation after I began making inquiries final week.

“As quickly as Hyundai realized of this case and of those storage charges being charged to our clients, we shortly took steps to get all Hyundai vehicles out of E3’s facility and despatched to a close-by Hyundai dealership the place the service work could be made and our clients could be properly taken care of,” Trainor stated.

“All clients who made any type of cost to E3 throughout this case have been, or will probably be, totally reimbursed.”

Vera’s automobile is now at South Bay Hyundai in Torrance.

Levit Perez, South Bay’s service supervisor, informed me Monday that data from Nissani Brothers point out Vera’s engine was changed, “however I don’t see any proof of that.”

He additionally stated the opposite Nissani vehicles which have arrived at his dealership from E3 “have been torn aside by somebody and by no means put again collectively.”

Like I stated up prime, bizarre — and deeply disturbing.

“We care about our clients,” the person who stated he was a supervisor of the Nissani Brothers dealership informed me. “There’s two sides to this story.”

Hyundai says the one story right here is that of a franchisee who couldn’t be trusted to deal with clients respectfully and who used the pandemic as cowl for shoddy practices.

“It wasn’t the coronavirus,” Trainor stated. “It was one thing else.”

I encourage any shopper caught up on this mess involving Nissani Brothers Hyundai to contact the state attorney general’s office, which watches out for unfair enterprise practices.

And possibly take into consideration putting in a GPS tracker in your automobile earlier than dropping it off for repairs at any Nissani Brothers dealership. This may be executed for below $30.

Since you by no means know.