EDIT 9/7/2011: The owner of Florida Auto Brokers has paid the amount owed in full. In return, I am removing his name and his salesman's last name.
Hey guys. I don't think this post will interest too many frequent readers, but I'm sharing it because I'm ranked very highly in search engines and I'd like to warn future prospective clients of Florida Auto Brokers so that they don't get scammed.
On July 7 of 2008 I saw an online auction by Florida Auto Brokers for a 1996 Rialta Motorhome. I was looking for an RV to bring back to Austin, so I sent them an e-mail. Nick, the salesman, replied.
We e-mailed back and forth. I specifically asked about a number of items, including the fridge and generator. He assured me that the fridge worked on all three modes (AC/DC/Propane), and that the generator only had 84 hours on it. The eBay listing said that the whole RV was in great shape and had been inspected with a "fine toothed comb".
I offered $18,500 and he agreed to end the auction early and sell it to me for that price.
Because of eBay rules, he couldn't actually end the auction, but instead he had a friend bid on it for him. This revealed that the final price, if I hadn't agreed to buy it, would have been only $17,500.
I, of course, still stuck to my offer and immediately wired the rest of the money to him.
Three weeks later I arrived in Florida to pick up the RV. It seemed to be in good shape, although not quite as good as advertised. Still, you have to expect that when you buy online.
One thing that alarmed me was that the holding tanks were full. Someone else's sewage was still in the RV. That's pretty disgusting and also makes it very obvious that the RV was not inspected as closely as they indicated.
Another problem was that the fridge didn't work on two of the three modes. This was shocking because I had specifically asked whether or not it worked on all three modes. Nick told me that it did without even checking.
Although Nick wasn't there when I picked it up, and neither was the owner, the guy who was there was really friendly and helpful. He seemed honest and told me that they would take care of the fridge. He called ahead to a local RV repair place, but I didn't have time to stop there, so he wrote on the Bill of Sale that they would pay for the repairs.
I signed the papers and drove away.
A few miles later I stopped to get some groceries. To keep the RV cool I turned on the generator and the air conditioner. When I got back fifteen minutes later the generator had quit and there was a puddle of oil below it. I immediately wrote an e-mail to Nick to register the problem. It was obvious that the generator was broken and that the brief on/off test we'd done at the dealership wasn't sufficient.
As I left town I went to a dump site to dump out the disgusting other-person-sewage and fill up the water tank. I lined the hose up with the sewer pipe and pulled the valve. Nothing happened. The valve was broken.
There were a few other issues I discovered, too. The outdoor shower was covered in mold and didn't work, and the power mirrors didn't work.
They had obviously lied about checking the RV over in any serious capacity.
I wrote Nick an outraged e-mail within 10 miles of the dealership, listed the issues, and demanded that they pay for the repairs and give me a refund of $1500 for grossly misrepresenting the RV. I had bought it because I was assured it was in great condition and ready to use, and it wasn't.
Here's an excerpt from one of his e-mails back:
The generator worked perfect when you were here, but I understand that it stopped working right away, so I offered to fix that also. I don't understand why you think that I am responsible for every little flaw with the RV and to give you money back because you feel like it should have been cheaper.Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ I am still willing to stand behind the things that are wrong with it, but I am not giving you a reduction in the price. I am not trying to be a jerk either, I am just trying to take care of this right way.
So he agrees to fix the generator, holding tank valves, and the fridge, but refuses to refund any of my money. I think that a partial refund would be the right thing to do, but also understand that there's probably not a legal responsibility beyond the repairs.
I get back to Austin and am left with an unusable RV. I can't use the shower, sink, toilet, or generator (which was needed for the AC).
I get the generator and fridge fixed, at a total cost of around $800, and I fax in the receipts for reimbursement.
No one replies. After a week I call, and am promised that someone will take care of it. No one does. After a month or two of talking to Nick every couple days he says that I need to talk to the owner of Florida Auto Brokers.
The owner is immediately hostile. He says that he'll pay for the fridge because it's written on the slip, but refuses to pay for the generator despite Nick's promise to do so. In his words,
"The whole thing can blow up the minute you drive off my lot and it's not my problem. Understand?"
Two months later, after near daily phone calls, he stops answering at all. I call five days in a row, several times a day, and he never answers or returns my calls.
I file a report with the BBB in Gainesville Florida, and he answers my phone call the next day as if we're best friends. He says that he's going to pay for the repairs, but that he needs to get the money from the person he bought the RV from in the first place, and that they've agreed to pay for it.
For a month every time I call he says to call back in two days and he'll have the money. He finally pays $250, just the cost of the refrigerator. He declares that,
"There is NO way I'm going into my own pocket for that generator. It would be like taking my own money and throwing it into the street."
He complains that the price was too high for the repair, but refuses to talk to the repairman who fixed it. In fact, the repairman called them before repairing it to make sure they knew how expensive the repair was going to be. Nick said he'd call him back in fifteen minutes but never did.
Now I'm out for the repairs on the generator and faced with time consuming task of making sure to publicize this in every outlet possible. I informed the owner that I'd be doing this, and he said that he doesn't care because he's selling the business in three months. I hope the potential buyers read this and understand who they're buying from.
Don't Buy From Florida Auto Brokers
Florida Auto Brokers are scam artists and can't be trusted. This post is the first of many steps I will take to make sure that potential customers are aware of the dangers of doing business with Florida Auto Brokers in Gainesville.
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