TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Chloe Annamanthadoo’s first car-buying experience turned into a nightmare this year.
But after a little time in the Better Call Behnken spotlight, the dealer and its bond company made it right and returned all her money.

“I’m glad I called you about this,” Annamanthadoo said. “I didn’t expect it to go this far. I didn’t even really expect you to answer me.”

Annamanthadoo turned to Better Call Behnken for help after trying to buy a 2010 Acura TL from Auto View LLC, on Nebraska Avenue in Tampa. She said the dealership ended up with her nearly $5,200 down payment – and the car.

“I’m depressed,” she said then. “I barely have money in my account. I saved that money. I’ve been working for that money for almost a year and I invested that in a car and it all got taken away from me – and I don’t even have a car.”

After forking over the down payment- and before driving the car off the lot – she noticed the car wasn’t in the advertised “excellent” condition. She said the dealership promised to make it right with a promissory note detailing repairs.

She said those repairs weren’t made and, even worse, she discovered a Carfax report showing 172,434 miles – not the 115,000 listed in the ad.

When she said she didn’t want the car, Auto View repossessed it – when it was still sitting on their lot.

When Better Call Behnken showed up at the dealership, an employee handed us a phone to speak with a man who said he was Ahmed Abuelenen, the manager. He explained he had at first agreed to give Annamathadoo her money back but didn’t because of her negative online reviews.

So I kept digging and ended up with a state investigation report from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The ongoing investigation confirmed the advertisement was not accurate and found the dealership violated two Florida statutes: “false advertising” and “failure to produce requested records.”

Armed with those records, Better Call Behnken called the dealership back to see if he’d change his mind. Hours later, the manager called with good news: he’d have a check waiting for Annamathadoo.

Since she didn’t have a car, 8 On Your Side had one more thing to do: pick Annamathadoo up and take her back to the dealership. We were expecting a check for nearly $5,200 but walked out with one for $1,000 and a promise for the rest.

So Better Call Behnken kept working.

Auto View’s manager said he only paid her $1,000 because he thought she received the rest through a credit card chargeback.

When 8 On Your Side showed his staff her bank records showing he reversed that chargeback, the dealership insisted they didn’t have the money back – yet. But when they do, they said, they’ll return it.

Better Call Behnken contacted the dealership’s bond company and informed them that state investigators determined this was a “failed sale.” The bond company investigated and then sent Annathadoo a check for $4,200, so she now has all of her money back.

She said she’s learned a tough lesson.

“With everything that happened, I’m like traumatized from buying cars, so I think I’m just going to keep on working and save up my money and stuff like that,” she said. “And then sooner or later I’m gonna invest back into a car when I feel safe again.”

State regulators confirm an ongoing investigation involving Auto View LLC.