A Pandemic, job losses, and general craziness led to one crappy Thursday for Kellie Smith.
She’d been laid off from her job at a Bellevue hotel. Then her unemployment payments stopped unexpectedly.
“They said it was going to be under review, that we should be getting something within a week or two,” says Kellie.
Finally – five weeks without a check – her auto lender, CarHop, shut off her ride for non-payment.
“I was pretty mad; I was mad,” says Kellie. “I have been communicating with CarHop and told them that I couldn’t make the payments and they told me just to let them know when my unemployment starts again.”
See, this is the rule at all of CarHop’s auto dealer locations in 13 states: if you finance your ride through the company, it can shut off your car for nonpayment.
“They’re just on top of me about it, you need to come up with the money, you need to come up with the money, come up with the money, come up with the money!” said Tonia Dellasantos, who called KIRO 7 in April.
Tonia had also lost her job. And, back then, she’d also been threatened with a shut-off.
“They’re just not caring when it comes to people that are struggling. They don’t care,” said Tonia.
So I made some calls. And I got in touch with the CEO of CarHop. I told him I’m just trying to make sure that Tonia’s car doesn’t get shut off. That’s it.
He told me the company was going to pause shut-offs nationwide to assess the economic impact of COVID-19 on their customers.
OK, so why is Carhop using shut-offs now?
Kellie says the company was nice enough to lower her payment when she was laid off – and she always stayed in touch.
“I just talked to you guys last week, and you said as soon as my unemployment comes in let me know. Well, it hasn’t come in,” remembers Kellie.
So I called Carhop again.
The company said it’s using shut-offs for people who don’t communicate with them.
“He said ‘yeah, we see you’ve been communicating with us.’ So why you cut my car off then, if I’m communicating with you?” says Kellie.
The company sent this statement saying:
“We are aware of the problems with the State of Washington unemployment system and are working with customers affected to help them through this trying time.”
And then, CarHop did something it did not have to do. And now, Kellie’s back on the road and making payments again.