Note: CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman has been covering unethical practices at auto auctions for years. Even with additional consumer protections, the same man exposed by Zekman nearly 10 years ago continues working in the auction business, as CBS 2 Dorothy Tucker recently found.
Here is Zekman’s coverage of the South Chicago Auto Auction from May 12, 2010.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Before the South Chicago Auto Auction begins in Harvey, people have an hour to look at the cars but can’t start them to see if they actually run.
And what you bid won’t be what you have to pay.
Balthazar Rodriguez bid $2,600 for a used truck.
The sale price? $3,746.
The extra money includes a 16 percent “buyer’s premium.” Rodriquez didn’t know about that extra charge until after he was required to put down a non-refundable deposit.
That happens all the time, those additional charges are buried in auction purchase documents, Pam Zekman reports
“I work had for my money so I just wanted my money back,” Rodriguez said.
Another man, who was not identified, didn’t want to lose his $600 deposit, and took the car despite the unexpected fees. He said he won the auction with a $2,600 bid. He was surprised to be told he had to pay another $833 to drive the car off the lot.
The biggest surprise for Pamela Swanson was the condition of the vehicle she bought.
“It barely drove home,” she said. “I couldn’t go more than five miles an hour. People are beeping, giving you the finger. I’m like, I can’t go any faster.”
She had some work done to try to salvage the car.
“It is pretty much a clunker that needs over $4,000 worth of work after I almost paid them $5,000.”
Their complaints about South Chicago Auto Auction are similar to those CBS 2 reported on in 2005 when City Auto Auction operated at the same location.
In response to our stories in 2005 the Illinois Attorney General charged the owners and managers of City Auto Auction with deceptive practices– including Khaldoon Shakir, the customer service manager.
Now he appears to be running the show at South Chicago Auto Auction.
Zekman wanted to ask him about the continued complaints but was stopped by security.
“Your business is not welcome,” the guard said.