DALLAS - The complaints are piling up about another North Texas auto dealer group failing to pay off trades and issue titles for cars.
And if you think that sounds like a different dealership we told you about last month, you’d be right. What’s worse? The two groups may be ready to make a deal with each other.
When Joe Lopez traded in his GT 500 for a Ford F-150, he thought the deal was done.
“I didn’t have a problem when we were there,” he said.
He signed a contract at Alfa Romeo Dallas. The dealership was supposed to pay off about $10,000 on his trade.
“I drove away in the truck and didn’t think anything about it until...” he said.
A month later, Lopez got a statement from his credit union showing the dealership never paid off the trade. He was still liable for payments.
“We’re trying to buy a house so we have to keep our credit in straight order,” he said.
Lopez kept paying the bill thinking it would all be sorted out soon. But he said Alfa Romeo Dallas was unresponsive. Months went by and the payments piled up for a car he no longer owns.
We reached out to the parent company of Alfa Romeo Dallas, KamKad Automotive Group. North Texas resident Ken Strickler is the owner.
We repeatedly left messages for Emma Fortier, who is listed as the company’s corporate accounting and public relations contact. She did not return a single call or email from us.
“I want them to pay out what the contract says they should pay and let’s move on,” Lopez said.
At one point, it seemed they would. Lopez got a text from Fortier in February saying the payoff check was cut and waiting on a signature. She claimed it would be overnighted via UPS.
But months later, the account was still open and the car was not paid off.
“I’m at a loss. That’s why I called you. I thought maybe you could help,” Lopez said.
Days after the interview, we finally made contact with the dealership owner via text. Strickler assured us the check to pay off Lopez’s trade had already been cashed.
But when we contacted the lien holder, Navy Federal Credit Union, they said no check ever arrived.
Instead, the credit union told us they got a call from KamKad the same day we got that text asking for an address where payment could be overnighted.
Finally, it was. And after months of getting nowhere, Lopez’s trade was paid off.
“If they’ll do it to me, they’ll do it to anyone,” he said.
And it turns out, they just may have.
When we visited another KamKad dealership, Alfa Romeo Fiat of McKinney, looking for Strickler. We were told the general manager was on the phone and would be right with us.
We waited for about an hour. Then a salesperson named James, who wouldn’t share his last name, told us there was no GM.
“The GM isn’t here today. They fired him,” James said.
So we started digging through dealer ratings for KamKad and complaints to the state. We turned to social media to see if others had similar stories. The messages came back almost instantly.
Sherrie Wendt said she bought two cars from Strickler and his KamKad dealerships. Months later, she still doesn't have titles for them. Louie Adams said he bought a truck and his trade was never paid off. Holly Russell complained she couldn’t get tags for the vehicle she bought. Gary Fitzgerald said he had no title and no plates.
The list goes on. Dozens of customers believe they were taken for a ride by Strickler and KamKad Automotive.
We turned to the state for answers. The Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner confirmed KamKad has no current active motor vehicle sales finance license. It could find no license for any KamKad dealership in Texas to finance cars at all.
And if you’re thinking taking a trade and not paying it off or financing cars without a license sounds criminal, think again. Lopez went to the police who said, “Sorry.”
“They told me it was a civil matter and there is nothing they can do,” he said.
We did finally get an email from Strickler saying he heard we stopped by and hoped we were treated well. He indicated both of his Alfa dealerships are in the middle of buy/sell agreements and are in transition.
Closing those deals would require a buy/sell application with the state DMV, whose spokesperson said there is no such application in the system.
Stricker declined our request for an on-camera interview and said he’d be happy to answer questions in writing instead. We started with one question and haven’t heard from him since.
Now, remember that story we did a few weeks ago about Fenton Hyundai? The dealership is facing hundreds of complaints from consumers about not paying off trades and failure to supply titles?
“They said they were going through a transition with a new owner coming in and they didn’t have the money to pay for the title or the tags. Well, that shocked me because I paid cash,” said Fenton Hyundai customer Larry Webb.
Well, guess who’s in the process of buying it? Strickler and his KamKad Automotive Group.
We checked with the state. There’s no buy/sell application for Fenton Hyundai, which means its not a done deal yet despite the fact that there is an “Under New Ownership” photo on the dealership’s Facebook page.
We’ll keep you posted on that front.
In the meantime, if you find yourself in a similar situation with your title or trade, we had the best luck solving problems when we went straight to the banks instead of the dealership.
We helped Wendt, who bought two trucks and couldn’t get titles. The bank that financed the trucks agreed to let her back out of the deal and return them.
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