3OYS: Complaints rack up against Uncle Joe's Auto Sales

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Take a drive near Bell Road and 25th Street in Phoenix and you'll come across a car lot called Uncle Joe's Auto Sales. But some customers, like Ashley Thompson, complain Uncle Joe's sure doesn't treat you like an uncle.

"I was really upset.  I was literally in tears," Thompson tells 3 On Your Side when she tried to purchase a vehicle at Uncle Joe's

Thompson says she went to the car lot to find a vehicle to buy and claims a salesman immediately asked for a $500 down payment.  She handed over the money and, according to Thompson, the salesman said he could get her into a used Kia. Thompson said she was excited to be purchasing a car and signed a document saying "no refunds."

However, Thompson says things turned sour when she was told she didn't qualify for a car.

Not only that, but she says Uncle Joe's refused to give her $500 back.  It's money Thompson says she can't live without.  "I have diapers to buy.  Baby wipes to buy.  Electricity, rent, and gas to pay," Thompson said.

She's not alone.  Joe Maria, who's also in the market for a car,says an Uncle Joe's salesman asked him for a $600 deposit when he was looking at purchasing a used Saturn.

Maria gave the salesman the money and agreed to purchase the car.  However, he says he left the Saturn there to have some minor repairs done before driving it off the lot.  Maria also signed paperwork for what he was told was loaner vehicle until the Saturn was fixed.

But when he went back to pick up the Saturn, Maria says he got the shock of his life.  "A manager comes out and says, what's going on?  And I said I'm checking on the status of my Saturn.

He says, 'I don't know anything about a Saturn but all this paperwork says you signed up for a Dodge Neon.'   And i said, 'Whoa. That was just supposed to be a loaner car."

Maria found himself the proud new owner of a Dodge Neon, complete with a door mirror that was taped on to the door and a rear window that was boarded up with plywood. Puzzled by not getting the car he thought he bought,

Maria says he demanded his $600 back. However, he says the salesman pointed to that document he signed that said, "No Refunds."

Joe Maria and Ashley Thompson, along with numerous other consumers have not only complained to 3 On Your Side, but also the Phoenix Better Business Bureau.

Felecia Thompson is with the BBB and says the agency is very familiar with Uncle Joe's and has even issued the car lot an "F" rating because Uncle Joes hasn't responded to any of the
complaints the agency has on file.

"Unfortunately, in this situation, the red flags are up in regards to the company not responding the Better Business Bureau and there are consumers out there who are just frustrated and desperate to get their money back."

3 On Your Side wanted to know why so many consumers were complaining.  So, we stopped by to talk to Frank Michela, who says he helps manage the business.

Michela admits the company has a very strict no refund policy.  "In a lot of cases you have people who are completely emotional.  They're irate.  We've had people break things in here," Michela tells us.  However, he defended the business' selling tactics.

While we were talking, another customer named Lyle Clark walked into Uncle Joe's demanding a refund.

Clark says a week earlier a salesman asked him and his mother for a $500 down payment while they were browsing for cars.

But when they didn't qualify for the car they were interested in, Clark says Uncle Joe's kept their $500 and sent them on their way without a car.

Despite that "no refund" policy, Michela wrote out a check for $500 in front of 3 On Your Side.

Clark says he's been begging Uncle Joe's for a week for a refund, and only got his check he says because 3 On Your Side was with him.  "They would have given me the run around," Clark says if would have been on his own.

Michela says he gives refunds all the time and chuckled when asked why so many consumers are complaining about their sales tactics.

Customers who feel they have unresolved issues wit Uncle Joe's Auto Sales are encourged to file a complaint with the Arizona Atttorney General's Office. 

Complaints can be filed online at this website: https://www.azag.gov/complaints/consumer