JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many customers of a car dealership that abruptly closed its doors are concerned that their cars could be repossessed at no fault of their own.
American Car Center is a Memphis-based company that first laid off more than 300 employees at its headquarters last Friday. It also shuttered its doors at the three Jacksonville locations on Atlantic Boulevard, Cassat Avenue and Blanding Boulevard.
The News4JAX I-TEAM learned that the American Car Center has 45 dealerships in 10 states and, according to multiple reports, closed its doors the day after it pulled a deal that could have helped the company’s finances.
Customers who spoke with the I-TEAM said they had no warning that the company was closing and that they do not know where to send their car payments.
Janet Steward leased a 2016 Ford Escape through the dealership and worries about the effects of not being able to pay her bill.
“When I tried to log into my account to put in the information, it was deleted. My account was deleted. The site was deleted. Everything was gone,” Steward said.
Steward said all of American Car Center’s vehicles have tracking devices and kill switches, which have the capability of disabling the vehicle when the bill’s not paid.
“If you’re driving and let’s say you stopped somewhere, to the store. If you haven’t paid anything, they can turn the starter off where you cannot start your car at all,” she said.
Steward said she received a text message Wednesday night from the Westlake Portfolio Management Group, which reads in part:
“The best way to manage your auto lease is through your MyAccount portal,” which requires she enters her personal information.
Steward and other American Car Center customers News4JAX spoke with questioned the company’s legitimacy.
Tennessee officials said Westlake Financial Services is buying the loans made through American Car Center’s subsidiary.
The American Car Center has an updated website for customers to make payments, which includes a payment portal, a pay-by-phone option and a location where you can pay by check.
Also, if you’re one of the hundreds of customers who received a text message from Westlake Portfolio Management, you can contact them, but only give them your account number and let a representative provide you with your personal information.
The CFO Noah Logan reportedly sent the following email to employees:
“We worked incredibly hard over many months to avoid this outcome but, at this point, we have no choice Effective as of close of business today, February, 24, 2023, the employment of all employees of the company will be terminated. On behalf of the company, thank you for your efforts and I wish you well in your future endeavors.”
The American Car Center is also now facing a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of its employees who were given no notice that they were out of a job.