South Florida car totaled while at repair shop

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - Christina and Michael Richman drove a loaner car from CarMax for a month after they dropped off their car for repairs. "It seemed to stretch out forever and ever," explained Michael Richman.

Weeks went by without getting their car back. Then the sheriff's office found it outside a drug house. "We were shocked," Richman explained.

The car was totaled after thieves drove it through a brick wall.

The Richmans called the Consumer Watchdog after they couldn't get the dealership to take responsibility.

The Richmans dropped their keys off at CarMax. When that repair shop couldn't fix the problem, CarMax drove the car to AutoNation so the repairs could be done there.

AutoNation said it fixed the problem, and while they were waiting for CarMax to pick up the car it was stolen. "Not even one phone call from either dealer to say 'Mrs. Richman we are sorry for what happened,' " said Christina with tears in her eyes.

CarMax's insurance denied the damage claim adding it's not liable because the car was at AutoNation at the time of the theft, and it was secure inside a building with the keys locked in a separate area. "We've got gates. Obviously the walls. We have a security guard at night that patrols," said Todd Skelton of AutoNation.

AutoNation said it takes steps to prevent theft, but in the rare case it happens most repair orders say the dealerships are not responsible for any damage. It's up to the customer to pay.

In this case, CarMax was the customer. "In my opinion. the other automotive retailer probably should have taken care of it," said Skelton.

When we told AutoNation that was not happening, the dealership offered to help get the Richmans into another vehicle. "We basically said to them 'what will make you happy to be in this car?' And the number they chose is the number we gave them for the car. So we lost several thousand dollars in the transaction but in the end of the day they're happy," explained Skelton.

Insurance experts we spoke to say most garages have liability insurance, but it's not required in Palm Beach County.

In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties that insurance is required.

CarMax issued the following statement:

"CarMax takes this situation very seriously. and we are sorry that our customers have had to go through such an ordeal.

"While our customer privacy policies prevent us from discussing specifics, numerous teams and individuals within CarMax have worked to provide support to these customers as they work through this situation. CarMax provided a loaner vehicle for a period of time, reimbursements of unused portions of MaxCare and GAP waiver agreements, and has agreed to pay the customers their insurance deductible related to their insurance claim for their loss. We understand that these customers have selected to purchase another vehicle with another company, so we were unable to offer assistance in that transaction.

"Customer service is a top priority for CarMax, and we are constantly seeking ways to improve how we serve and communicate with our customers. As such, we greatly appreciate the invaluable feedback we have received from these customers regarding their experience."

-- Michelle Topping Ellwood, Public Affairs Spokesperson

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