Turn to Ted: Spring man encourages car buyers to do research before deciding where to purchase from

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- Gary Gray sat with his wife in their lounge chairs and searched for vehicles on Carvana, an online used car seller. What he initially thought was going to be a convenient venue of purchasing a car turned into a headache.

"It was all online and I love that," Gray told ABC13's Ted Oberg. "I can't walk for very long without a lot of pain in my back. To walk around a dealer's lot and deal with sales people and stuff, we just didn't want to do that. It was very convenient to buy the car online."

In late June of 2021, the couple decided to buy a 2018 Lincoln and within weeks, Carvana dropped it off at their house.

Gray said the company told him it would take about a month to get the car registration and title transferred over. In the meantime, he received temporary paper tags, but once those tags expired he still didn't have his permanent plates or registration.

He said Carvana sent him a second set of temporary tags, but those also expired. So, they sent him a third set.

"In August, I started reaching out to (Carvana), even started calling, but they never returned my phone calls and I'd never hear from them again," Gray said. "They'd make promises that they would solve the problem, but I'd never hear back."

After months of not getting his license plate, title and registration - or any answers from Carvana on when he could expect them - Gray grew increasingly frustrated and Turned to Ted for help.

"There was no resolution until I reached out to ABC13 and made you guys aware of it," he said. "A few days after that, their executive resolutions team contacted me and that's when there was an actual two-way conversation. The person was very responsive."

Gray said Carvana told him they waited seemingly forever to even submit his paperwork to the State of Texas. In fact, he said they didn't submit the paperwork until November, after we asked Carvana about the delay.

It turns out Gray isn't alone in his wait.

Texas DMV records, reported first by KTVT, show Carvana has repeatedly been in trouble for failure to timely transfer titles. Records show at least 13 complaints. We asked Carvana about the DMV issues, but did not receive a response.

In a November letter to shareholders, Carvana said, "Our explosive growth in buying cars from customers over the last two quarters created significant operational constraints in our system. Buying more cars from customers leads to more last mile pickups, more customer care interactions, and more complex title processing requirements, which in turn leads to more complex registration processing. Our teams are responding by enhancing our systems and processes to adapt to this rapid change."

We don't know why, but shortly after Gray called our Turn to Ted team and we reached out, he started getting answers from Carvana and his plates.

In a statement, a Carvana spokesperson said, "While we worked closely with the customer to ensure their needs were met with an efficient resolution, we firmly remain committed to continuous improvement of our customer experience, and stay hard at work making the best car shopping, buying and selling experience available even better."

Gray encourages other car buyers to do their research before deciding where to purchase from.

"Carvana has the potential to be a really good deal, especially for people like me who are disabled," he said.

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