Action 9

Melbourne woman charged hundreds after car she sold years ago was towed

MELBOURNE, Fla. — A Melbourne woman felt blindsided by a dealership after she was billed hundreds of dollars to tow a vehicle she didn’t own.

The title had never been transferred after she sold it years ago.

“I never expected anything like this,” Margaret Coles said.

Four years after Coles traded in her 2001 Honda Accord, the vehicle came back to haunt her.

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A tow-truck company was demanding she pay hundreds of dollars after it was wrecked last month.

“I said ‘The car’s not mine,’ and he said, ‘Yes it is,’” Coles said.

She said she researched records online and checked the VIN. “And realized, yup that’s the same car, that’s in my name.”

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The dealership had never transferred the title when she sold it to them years ago. Coles showed the tow company her sales invoice and registration to prove she was not the owner.

“Basically they said, ‘Too bad it’s in your name,’ and there’s nothing they can do,” Coles said.

According to Coles, the towing company threatened a lien against her driver’s license unless she paid the charges.

Coles thought everything would be cleared up if she contacted Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, since the agency is in charge of titles, registrations and dealerships.

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Coles said the agency was a dead end, “She says, ‘I’m sorry that’s just not how the DMV works.’”

The car was last sold at Volusia Auto Brokers in Deland. Coles called the dealer and claims managers stopped returning her calls.

“For people at fault not to help me when I have paperwork to back it up, is

just mind blowing,” Coles said.

Consumer attorney Jared Lee said it was a blatant mistake that should have been resolved by all the parties involved years ago.

“The dealer has an obligation within 10 days to pay off any liens, so the consumer has a reasonable expectation that by that point the title would have been transferred out of their name,” Lee said.

Todd Ulrich contacted managers at Volusia Auto Brokers. The dealer said the title issue was resolved this week, it had done nothing wrong and that Coles was free and clear.

“Every road I went down, no one was willing to help,” Coles said.

If a seller signs a notice of motor vehicle sale state document and sends it to the tax collector’s office, the seller is no longer responsible for the vehicle, no matter what the buyer does.

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles response:

Our regional office has been in contact with Ms. Coles and is working with her to ensure the tow company and our department receive the information needed that will prevent the tow company from requesting any suspension of license. It appears the tow company may have not had all the information as Ms. Coles has documents showing a trade-in and marked sold etc.

Regarding the claim that the DMV was not responding to her issues, while speaking with Ms. Coles, our regional office learned that she was actually contacting the Brevard County Tax Collector, not FLHSMV.

Our regional office will continue to work with Ms. Coles until the issue is resolved.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.