JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two weeks after Riverside Chevrolet on Philips Highway released a "Plan of Action" to address customer complaints uncovered by the I-TEAM, those same customers say the dealer isn't following through.
On May 3, the I-TEAM revealed at least 20 customers were accusing the dealership of ruining their credit scores by failing to pay off the loans on their trade-ins, with many of those complaints coming from active-duty military and veterans. The Northeast Florida Better Business Bureau also issued a warning about the dealership the same day.
The following day, we were sent this statement, which was General Manager Damon Ferguson's "Plan of Action" to address customers' concerns.
We have designated a specific individual Natalie Batissa to personally assist our customers with any information concerning vehicle payoffs.
"In addition, we have created an email address to where customers can more easily communicate with us as well. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Any customer that has had any issue with erroneous credit reporting caused by us, our assigned agent will provide a correction letter on the customers behalf to correct the issue.
"Other Internal actions will include more staff training during the sales process as to ascertain the correct information from the customer as well as orientation.
"I will also be writing personal apology letters to customers as well for the inconvenience we may have caused."
Customers tell us they've called Natalie Batissa, the person designated to help them, and they have sent emails to the customer care email address (listed in statement above), but say no one has responded.
"Nothing. Nothing at all, which is disappointing," said Gasper Timpone who saw our I-TEAM investigation which led him to try and contact Riverside Chevrolet to see if his trade-in was paid off as promised. "Oh my God, I hope I’m not a victim and here I am a victim."
Timpone said when he didn't hear back from the dealership, he contacted his bank to explain the situation.
"Communication always helps. If you ignored a lender asking for money, you ignore them, you have a problem. But if you let them know what’s going on, aware of what’s going on, aware of what your situation is, they are sympathetic. But they can’t be sympathetic forever. They need to get paid," said Timpone.
"I commend the I-TEAM and the station for reporting this because I would have never known. The only way I would’ve known that they didn’t have a payoff was from the original lender from my trade. So I commend that. It would’ve been too late," he added.
The clock appears to be ticking. Multiple sources tell us the Fergusons, who own and manage Riverside Chevrolet, are trying to sell the Jacksonville Chevy dealership to Morgan Automotive Group.
We reached out to General Manager Damon Ferguson. He has not commented on talks that the dealership will be sold, but did say, through a marketing manager, he wanted to know the names of the unsatisfied customers to try to get the situation resolved. We released our list to him.
And, the I-TEAM has been checking daily with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles -- the agency that oversees dealerships throughout the state -- and so far, we're told regulators have not received an application to transfer the dealer's license, which is something it must approve before any sale can happen.
But, a source spotted two car haulers moving trade-in vehicles off the lot Thursday morning. And, multiple employees there tell us the dealership owes them money.
Timpone just wants the owners to hold up their end of the deal.
"Just pay my car off, that's it. Move on. Very simple," he said.
If you have any unfinished business with Riverside Chevrolet, the I-TEAM wants to hear from you, and so does the state. FLHSMV is actively investigating following our investigation and would like you to fill out this form with your contact information.
To reach out to us about your situation with the dealership, send us an email at ITEAM@News4Jax.com or you can call or text us at 479-NEWS (6397).