Bill Heard Chevrolet Takes a guy's purchase back, without authorization!

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Apr 11, 2003
Spring HIll
Buyer Beware!

I saw this on TV last week and couldn't believe my eyes. They took his pickup truck he just bought, brought it back to the dealer and had it for sale! What cajones!

I test drove a Suburban a few years ago at a local Chevy dealer (NOT Bill Heard). I mentioned the "deal" Bill Heard had, and the salesman rolled his eyes. I now know why Bill Heard's dealer network is a laughing stock of the industry. Once again, Buyer Beware.

Link to story:

Text of story:

NewsChannel 5 Investigates:
Dealership Doesn't Like Deal, Takes Car Back

Posted: 7/17/2006 9:55:00 PM
Updated: 7/17/2006 11:23:17 PM

Car dealers are often the butt of jokes. But one local truck buyer is not laughing about the deal that he got -- and lost. Consumer advocates say this case raises lots of questions about how a well-known auto dealer does business.

Earl Kieselhorst thought he owned a 2003 Chevy Silverado -- a truck that he bought from Bill Heard Chevrolet in Antioch.

Kieselhorst says he "paid cash for it. Made the deal. Sales manager signed off on it. Signed all the paperwork. And drove off."

He traded in his car and gave the dealer a check for $8,100.

"I have the keys," Kieselhorst tells NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Jennifer Kraus.

But he doesn't have his truck.

Bill Heard does.

"I can't see any reason why this wouldn't be my car," he adds.

Just one day after he bought the truck, a salesman from Bill Heard called to say the dealership was having second thoughts about the deal.

He told Kieselhorst that if he wanted to keep his truck, he needed to fork over another $10,000 -- something he refused to do. After all, he says, they had a signed deal.

But the next morning, when Kieselhorst woke up, his truck was gone.

"And I was like I can't believe it," he recalls.

The dealership had come and taken it in the middle of the night.

"I've got a contract. This is a legal contract. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say."

Metro police investigated and wanted to file charges against Bill Heard for stealing the truck.

Detective Ray Paris got a statement from Bill Heard, blaming a rookie salesman for what happened and calling it a mistake. (Read the statement given to police by Bill Heard.)

"They inadvertently sold the vehicle at a lower cost than what they should have," Paris says.

Kathleen Calligan says the Better Business Bureau has received literally hundreds and hundreds of similar complaints about the Bill Heard dealership -- more complaints by far than any other auto dealer in all of Middle Tennessee.

"Not only is this an unbelievable volume of complaints, most of them are unresolved," she adds.

Calligan says that, in this day and age, dealers know exactly how much a vehicle is worth.

And if a dealership truly does make a mistake, she says they'll take the loss -- rather than call the customer and demand he make up the difference.

"There is absolutely no reason for a sale not to be final when the customer walks out of the dealership," Calligan adds.

Yet even after Bill Heard had taken back the truck, the salesman called Kieselhorst again.

"He calls me back and offers to sell it to me for $11,000 more than I paid for it," Kieselhorst recalls.

Kieselhorst said no way.

And even though he still believes he is the rightful owner of the truck, when we went looking for it at Bill Heard, we found a customer checking it out. It was for sale, the customer and a saleswoman told us.

"The whole thing has just gotten more and more ridiculous," Kieselhorst says.

And now the self-proclaimed largest Chevrolet dealership in the world is accusing Kieselhorst of "trying to pull a fast one" on them.

"This is the way this company does business," Calligan says. "They really thought they would be able to pull a fast one on their customer."

After we tried to get their side for days, Bill Heard faxed us a statement just before air time, saying that Kieselhorst "should have known" that the deal he got was too good to be true.

The company says:

"It is not reasonable or fair to expect for Bill Heard Chevrolet ... to be bound by a sale where a clear and material mistake was made, and the customer was aware that it was a mistake."

(Read Bill Heard's statement provided to NewsChannel 5.)

Kieselhort says he just thought Bill Heard was giving him the type of good deal they advertise.

As for the police investigation, the DA says this is a civil case, not a criminal case. He says Kieselhorst is free to take the dealer to court -- something he's now seriously considering.

Follow up Story:


NewsChannel 5 Investigates:
Bill Heard Sees Consumer Complaints Nationwide

Posted: 7/25/2006 10:39:00 PM
Updated: 7/26/2006 9:13:28 AM

An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation first exposed how one man's deal just disappeared at Bill Heard Chevrolet. As it turns out, the company has a nationwide record of unhappy customers.

“It just blew my mind. I almost thought it was a joke in the beginning, you know. It was almost too unreal to believe,” customer Elizabeth Wilson tells NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Jennifer Kraus.

Just two days after Wilson and her husband bought a 2005 Chevy Equinox, the dealer tried to take it away, using what Wilson called fear and intimidation.

“There was no way to get out. They surrounded my car with seven people and stood in my doorframe. Couldn't start the car. Couldn't shut the door in 97-degree weather,” Wilson recalls.

The Wilsons bought the car at the Bill Heard dealership in Huntsville, Ala.

But when she went back to get a typo on the car title fixed, she says the salesman suddenly insisted she couldn't keep the car because the former owner's deal had fallen through.

“I just laughed at them,” Wilson says.

She refused to hand over the keys. That's when, she says, the salesmen surrounded her car while another used a truck to block her in all while her 1-year-old son sat strapped in his car seat.

“I was a nervous wreck. My blood pressure, I could almost feel my blood boiling. I couldn't believe that this was happening to me, anything like this.”

Our investigation found unhappy customers just like Wilson at Bill Heard dealerships across the country.

The family-run company sells Chevys in seven states in all. Bill Heard has more than a dozen dealerships

There were literally hundreds of customer complaints against Bill Heard filed with the Better Business Bureau in the last three years.

“This is serious. This is a serious consumer issue that is out of the ordinary,” says Kathleen Calligan, with the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee.

In Nashville alone, more than 100 customers have complained about the way they were treated at the dealership in Antioch.

That's far more than any other dealer.

The Better Business Bureau said many of these customers say Bill Heard tried to take back their cars, too, just like Wilson after their deal had supposedly been sealed.

“It's misleading, and it's deceptive,” Calligan said.

Attorney Barry Weathers calls Bill Heard “a cancer on the community” and says the problems reflect the company's corporate culture.

Weathers has handled more than a dozen lawsuits against the Nashville location, where he says Bill Heard employees have stolen customers' identities, used bait-and-switch schemes, falsified documents and forged customers' signatures.

“They are the worst of the worst,” Weathers says.

The company has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars by the attorneys general in Texas, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee yet the self-proclaimed world's largest Chevy dealer claims on the its Web site that Bill Heard is “dedicated to the principles of sound business ethics" and “long-standing integrity."

“I've seen nothing to indicate that Bill Heard, the wealthy man that's in charge of all of this, has taken any steps to make his dealership a reputable dealership that wants to be fair to people,” Weathers adds.

Elizabeth Wilson says the way Bill Heard does business is no way to do business.

“How can a car company just treat people like that, innocent people? I just don't understand,” Wilson says.

Wilson finally called police from her car to get out of the dealership -- with her car.

She is now suing Bill Heard for false imprisonment.

Despite the high number of complaints, there weren't many lawsuits filed.

That's because Bill Heard tells customers they have to sign an arbitration agreement where they agree not to sue and agree to have their case heard by a company mediator.

Consumer advocates say people should know they don't have to sign such an agreement to buy a car.
This is mind boggling. The consumer should know that they are getting a deal too good to be true? The people selling the cars are the professionals; they should be held responsible for the transaction. I hear advertisements that says thing such as "no offers will be refused. We have huge inventories and must make way for new models." Did this company offer to refund their money or just expect them to fork over the extra money or lose the, I guess, down payment?
I'm not surprised. The dealership's name in Huntsville before BH bought it was Landmark Cheverolet. Everybody called it Landshark Cheverolet. I've been in a few times and done one deal with my brother and they are crooks! Always advertising some scam. I hope they get their pants sued off!
I used to live west of Huntsville, (Muscle Shoals) and several times was "lured" by the sales ads to Landmark/Bill Heard. To think I almost bought a car from them! There's a Bill Heard down in these parts - looking for a new ride for my wife - after reading this, I will not even consider Bill Heard - Thanks ToyotaNSaturn!!
I have a short temper anyway but that would make my blood absolutely boil. If they pulled that ** on me trying to repose my car after I had bought it I would come out with a 50 cal Pistol and a shot gun in hands. Then the next day I would go to the dealership demand my payment back and a plump bonus for the trouble. if they tried to block me in refer to 2nd sentence.
I've seen similar things happen at a Ford dealership near me. The police don't do a thing because of it being one of the bigger businesses in town. Clear and simple breaking of the law and they let them get away with it. The least the police could do is send a message to the State Attorney General.

Police won't do a thing because they don't want to be in the middle of it, thats pure bull.

Thats the way things seem to operate nowadays. If you are a rich businessman you can get away with just about anything. Money talks.
GM should do something about this. Another reason people buy Toyota and Nissan. They have the power to do so.
I don't understand how the dealership isn't being prosecuted for theft? He was the rightfull owner of the vehicle. He need to call the guy from ABC's 20/20.
GM, I thought the same thing. There's too much going on behind closed doors to allow this to continue to happen.

Crew219, Thanks for the link! "Salesmen of the Corn". That's too funny! (wiping the Coke off my monitor screen...)
Just the fact that GM lets this scum keep his dealership says an awful lot about GM.
I drive by a large Chevrolet dealer every day. I've noticed the last couple years that place looks dead anymore compared to what it once was like.
General Motors definitely has the ability to send Bill Heard 2000 black cars without air conditioning for his annual "allotment". That's how Toyota got rid of a dealer in Texas that did not want to abide by their policies. I would definitely expect GM to get involved in stopping a dealer from this kind of practice. This is yet another argument about why independent dealers are a bad business model. Manufactureres should sell directly to the consumer.
Kinda makes you wanna just go down to the closest Bill Nerd dealership and get a great deal on a car. Park the thing in your garage and wait for them!!! Never take the thing out of your garage and then just screw with them.

Go to the county clerk and file for a lost title.
The whole 9 yards.

Either that, or make a duplicate set of keys and go "get it back" from the dealer if they come get it from you.

What scum!!! If that happened to me, they better hope I do not have a terminal ailment.....
Those rotton mofos. Could you amagine signing over your trade-in, giving them a check for $8-10K and then get nothing in return? Only recourse is wait/hope our lovely legal system can straighten it out?!? It's easy to say you'd go over there with barrels blazing, but all that will do is get you deeper in legal issues.

What about the poor guy that buys the truck between now and when this gets resolved? Will they steal it from another guy to give it to the first?
The thing is if he has the title and paper work. He legally owns the truck he should be able to just go in and drive his truck back home. Im no lawyer but this would seem the case. If they refused call the police and report the car stolen.
I would start the process of a commercial lien against the business, owner, repo and salesman. Anyone involved would have their personal property liened.

Followed by a lawsuit a complaint to the states attorney general's office.
adam123 is right. The guy should use his second set of keys & just go get his truck. It's HIS truck. Bill Hurt-me made the mistake, not the customer. It's his truck & BH lost $10K. Boo-hoo. They rob folks for at least that much everyday.

I've tried to do business with that BH dealer in Huntsville. Let's just say we don't agree on things. I'd never buy a coke from those guys.
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