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3News Investigates: Vroom stalls for hapless Ohio car buyers

Online used car dealer hits with hundreds of consumer complaints in Ohio; company blames rapid growth

CLEVELAND — Buying a car nowadays is just a swipe away.

But for hundreds of online car buyers, that new jalopy isn't delivering much vroom. Just a lot of hesitation and stalling.

Jason LaPierre of Cleveland learned the lesson earlier this year when he purchased a used Jeep Grand Cherokee from Vroom, an online car dealer founded in 2013.

“They had good prices and they have a good selection of cars,” he told 3News Investigates. “It seemed like a great deal for me.”

But while the 2014 Jeep arrived as promised, its title has not.

As a result, LaPierre has been flipping temporary tags since January. Now, Ohio won’t give him another 45-tag.

 So, the Jeep is parked.

“It has been sitting in this parking garage and collecting dust,” he said. “[Vroom] kind of played it off as merely a paperwork issue. I just don’t believe that”

LaPierre is one of hundreds who have filed a complaint against Vroom with the Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General.

Online car buying became more popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, when people stayed home and new car production waned because of computer chip shortages.

That meant a surge in used car purchases and online companies like Vroom, Carvana and CarMax took off. So too, have complaints.

A spokesperson for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said their consumer division has received 97 complaints against Vroom so far this year. Consumers have filed 65 complaints against Carvana and eight against CarMax so far this year.

Vroom spokesman Chris Hayes told 3News Investigates in a statement that the company is aware of the complaints and are working to address their concerns.

“We have rapidly scaled our business over the past few years and now recognize the strain it has put on our operations and the issues it has created for our customers as our business has grown," Hayes said.

“Along with improving our internal operations, we are also supporting current customers who are experiencing delays in titling and registration and are unable to drive their vehicle, including providing rental cars if necessary. Similarly, we continue to develop state-by-state best practices to create an efficient process where customers receive their necessary documents within an acceptable time frame."

Vroom is headquartered in Houston and complaints are funneled there from across the nation. The BBB in Houston has handled 214 complaints from Ohioans so far this year. Most are for titles, just as it is for LaPierre.

 “I have never seen numbers like this,” said Dan Parsons, president of the Greater Houston BBB. “It is the most complained about company we have.”

“It was smooth, it was quick, it was great, I just never got my plates,” Parsons said of the common complaints.

Vroom recently settled a lawsuit with Florida officials for $87,000. Texas has filed its own complaint on behalf of consumers.

That's little consolation for LaPierre and his idled Jeep.

“This is a been a huge source of stress and frustration for me,” LaPierre said. “I just want to drive the car that I bought.”

If you've experienced trouble with title delays or other have other concerns and would like to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, click here.

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