DENVER — Carvana ads promise the online car buying of the future, complete with car vending machines and no-hassle sales, but a Colorado Carvana customer is sharing a cautionary tale.
James Cunningham purchased a car from Carvana last July. He had the vehicle delivered to Denver.
"I finally get the car and walk up to the car, and from 50 feet away I can see it's been wrecked," said Cunningham.
He said undisclosed damage was just the start of his problems.
"I paid them in full, almost $26,000, and never got any documentation that I own the car--no title, no tag receipt," he said.
For months, he tried to get his title so he could legally drive the car.
"I sent them the paperwork once, twice, five times, they kept on saying we don't have your paperwork," said Cunningham.
Colorado Law requires car dealers to issue titles within 30 days, but that doesn't apply for online dealerships based out-of-state such as Carvana.
Cunningham knows he's not alone because of Facebook groups with hundreds of unhappy Carvana customers. Across the country, news outlets have been reporting on similar stories.
Carvana has been fined in California, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina and Florida, and the Better Business Bureau shows multiple complaints and government actions against the company, including suspended licenses.
Carvana's presence is growing in Colorado. The company is building an 8-story car vending machine in Southeast Denver, and this week, the company announced it is expanding as-soon-as-next-day delivery operations to Pueblo.
"Colorado needs to immediately stop them from doing business and investigate," said Cunningham.
The state's Auto Industry Division has investigated several complaints about Carvana in the last year but has found no violations.
"I finally begged them to give me a refund," said Cunningham, who said driving a car with no proof he owned it caused incredible stress and risk, so he returned it after seven months of fighting.
He said Carvana has already re-listed the car with the wrong mileage.
"That's curious. Maybe they drove it backward?" he joked, looking over the listing.
In a statement to Contact Denver7, Carvana did not respond to that allegation, but a spokesperson stated the company is working with the customer.
In a letter to investors last year, Carvana acknowledge an issue with registration:
"Our explosive growth in buying cars from customers over the last two quarters created significant operational constraints in our system. Buying more cars from customers leads to more last-mile pickups, more customer care interactions, and more complex title processing requirements, which in turn leads to more complex registration processing. Our teams are responding by enhancing our systems and processes to adapt to this rapid change," Carvana wrote to shareholders.
Meanwhile, Cunningham said he sees a different kind of car buying in his future.
"Buy Local," he said. "Because saving money sometimes cost you money, and it did in this case."
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