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CONTACT 13: Family car wrongfully repossesed

Posted: 11:00 PM, Apr 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-04-28 06:49:15Z

Paying bills online has become the norm for many working families. But Contact 13 discovered it can also wreak havoc on a household.

Most of us can't make it to work without one. You need it to go grocery shopping. And get the kids to school. So when a single mom had her car taken, and not by thieves, it threw her family's routine into chaos. 

As the sole provider, Dona Verner's family depends on her and her ride. 

"My kids. My girls. I have to be able to take them to school."

Verner was doing that in a 2016 Hyundai Sonata like this one. She'd saved up for a down payment and was making monthly payments too. But one morning everything changed.

"It was sheer panic," Verner says. "Like figuring out what's going on. I cried!"

Verner's Hyundai rolled away without warning. 

"It was on Feb. 6. 5 a.m.," Verner recalls. "Noise outside. Turn the light on. Went outside. And my car was being hooked up."

The tow truck driver told Verner he was repossessing her car. And she had to call Hyundai, which provided the loan. 

"I'm thinking it's a mistake," she explains. "You know, it's like panic basically."

A mistake because Verner's car payments were set up for auto-pay through her employer. She checked her bank account online, confirmed the money was withdrawn and got verification from the bill pay service. 

"And they have the money," Verner says. "There's proof of it."

But Verner says Hyundai ignored the proof when she spoke to them after the repossession in February.

 "They said there's no such records. There's no such history," Verner says about one of the calls with Hyundai. 

She also sent banks statements and copies of checks.

"There was a stamp from Hyundai that they received it."

"It's always that reaction." says attorney Al Lasso.  "It's almost as if, if it's on the computer we just agree with the computer and you're out of luck."

Verner's luck went from bad to worse as she waited days for Hyundai to return her repeated calls. The only answer she got was that her car was gone for good. 

"Well, they sent your car to an auction," she says.

Verner says Hyundai was quick to take her money and even quicker to take her car.  

"Life is hard enough as it is," she says. "This is the last thing that I need. I wanted answers from them."

Answers only came after Contact 13 got involved.  

We called Hyundai and they called Verner the next day to say, "We sincerely apologize at Hyundai Capital for picking up your vehicle at this time and I'm calling to make arrangements to have your vehicle delivered back to you."

"I think what you can take back from that is the only way that you get some real results is to either get someone else involved, like an attorney or the press or Channel 13 involved, so that they can actually say, 'Oh, now we have to take a harder look at this,'" Lasso said.

But by then it was too late. Verner had already scraped together another down payment for another car because her family couldn't wait. Now, she's out nearly $3,000. 

"Me being the main provider here, that's a lot!" Verner says. "That's me buying more food for the house. Paying for bills. I'm out of that."

Contact 13 has been in contact with Hyundai Capital multiple times over the last month.  

They declined our request for an on-camera interview, but sent a statement saying, "Hyundai Motor Finance takes all customer complaints seriously and we will work with this individual separately." 

Verner tells us she finally talked to someone from Hyundai who told her a single digit in an account number was "smudged." That may have prevented one of her payments from being reversed back to her account.  

Verner says she is still waiting for a final resolution from Hyundai to reimburse her money and protect her credit history.