ANJ Investigates

INVESTIGATES: Car buyer warns ‘stay away’ after buying from Vroom

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Christy Smith felt trapped after buying a Ford Escape. The car buyer warns others to “stay away” after buying a used car from Vroom.

Vroom is an online car retailer where you can buy, sell, or trade your car with a swipe of your finger.

>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<<

Smith paid $22,999 for her 2017 Escape last December plus taxes and fees. After she took possession, she found out Vroom doesn’t have a clear title for the car, and the car had a previous lien on it.

That meant Smith couldn’t register the car. She’s not the only one stuck in park.

In an Action News Jax investigation, Ben Becker discovered 119 customers filed complaints with the State of Florida against Vroom since March 2021. These are car buyers who had title transfer troubles after buying a car from the company.

READ: Man at the center of Loomis Fargo heist 25 years ago now a ‘normal guy’ living in Jacksonville

In a settlement agreement, Vroom agreed to pay a $87,000 fine in July 2022.

But issues with Vroom don’t stop at the state line. There are cases nationwide.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Vroom has an F rating with 6,108 complaints in the last three years.

INVESTIGATES: ‘Now I’m terrified to walk my dog:’ Current dog attack laws have more bark than bite

Vroom admitted in a 2021 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission it had issues, ” ... including backlogs in the titling and registration of vehicles …” blaming shutdowns during the pandemic.

“We represent over 250 clients with cases against Vroom,” said Georgia attorney Cyclone Covey, who is taking Vroom to court.

Covey is trying to help people from across the country get their titles through arbitration.

INVESTIGATES: ‘It’s just not appropriate:’ Local city council candidate tied to Airbnb complaints

“I think in general arbitration is not bad, not fast, but can be faster than going to court. So instead of waiting 2-3 years you might get a resolution in 12-15 months,” Covey said.

Smith wasn’t waiting that long. She reached out to SendBen@ActionNewsJax.com for help.

“I’ve heard you can do pretty good things with companies that do stuff like this,” Smith said.

She said Vroom offered to buy back her Escape instead of giving her an even swap. But that was a non-starter for Smith since car prices have zoomed a lot higher in the past year. Becker went on the Vroom website and found a 2017 Escape with similar miles but fewer features now costs $23,999 – which is $1,000 more than Smith’s Escape.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

The only comparable vehicle Becker found available on Vroom was a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, but the cost was $26,499 - about a $3,500 difference. Vroom was spending much more for Smith to rent a car. So far, they spent about $5,300.

After Becker brought the difference to their attention, they gave Smith the green light to get the Santa Fe Sport.

Vroom Statement: “We have been working with the customer to swap vehicles for her vs. doing a buy back. She will now be receiving a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.”

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

A few weeks later, Vroom picked-up the Escape and dropped off the Santa Fe.

“I’m very relieved and very happy Vroom decided to do the right thing and make it right at the end,” Smith said in a video message. “I’m also happy for what Ben did behind the scenes to get this case resolved.”

Smith said Vroom threw in a $100 voucher for a car wash and detail.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.