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Jan 20, 2016 12:55 PM

NH1 News Investigates: Bait and ditch car dealer

MANCHESTER - Buying a used car can be a frightening experience — especially if you’re searching online.

An Army combat veteran and his wife say they were scammed by a dealer in Manchester. They tried everything they could think of to resolve the issue themselves – with no luck. So, they called NH1 News for help.

Thirty-one-year-old Michael Murray served two tours in Iraq.

“I was a human intelligence collector. I was kind of in the information business. One side is interrogating detainees. The other side is going out and finding people who want to talk to us. Find bombs, guns, money,” Murray said.

This past summer, Murray married Abigail, and while they were on their honeymoon, their car was destroyed.

“A tree fell on her car and it totaled it,” Murray said.

With about $6,000 to spend, they went online to search for a used car. They chose a Volkswagen from Family Certified Auto Plus in Manchester.

“It seemed great,” Murray said. “The website looked good. We found the car that she wanted. The price was right. It seemed solid on the test drive.”

Solid, until they drove it off the lot.

“The first time we left the lot, the check engine light came on before we were a mile down the road,” Murray said. “Part of the deal was if anything goes wrong with this car, we’ll fix it. They said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s on us.’

“We went back, gave it to their mechanic, who replaced a valve. They said, ‘Okay, this car is great. Sorry about that, nothing wrong with it.’”

But the problems didn’t end there.

“We left again, and we made it to the gas station to fuel up for the trip home. After leaving the gas station, the check engine light came on again,” Murray said. “We tried to get a Massachusetts inspection done. And it failed on safety and emission.”

Murray said they had to the car towed back to Family Certified since it couldn’t make the trip. Once at the shop, he said the work on it stopped.

“At that point, that’s when I started calling them, twice a day,” Murray said.

And that’s when Abigail Murray said the insults came. “He called you ungrateful,” she said.

NH1 News went to Family Certified to find the car and talk to the owner, Gordon Savic. We couldn’t find the car, and while Savic’s assistant tracked down her boss, she told me the business had just been sold.

“Our dealership is actually moving. The business was sold,” the assistant said.

We asked: “Is it still the same name? Will it still be the same company?”

“No, it’s a completely different company,” she said.

Savic had very little to say.

“I understand your story, whatever the hell it is, I am doing everything that we agreed on,” Savic said.

Savic also refused to let us see the car. As he walked away, we called in a legal expert.

“It begs the question, whether the conduct of this used-car dealer is, in fact, a deceptive act that would be in violation of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act,” said Jim Steiner, Concord Attorney & Former Army Ranger and Green Beret.

“I’d certainly be willing to talk to Mike further about it because I think there’s enough there to suggest that the used car dealer would be well served to return—in full—the funds to Mike and wash his hands of this deal.

“It would appear somebody has tried to take advantage of a young veteran who put his life and personal goals aside to put the uniform on to make sure that terrorists stay over in Iraq or Afghanistan. If anything, we owe people like that a thank you.”

When the couple heard Steiner’s offer, they were grateful.

“The first thing I felt is, okay, help is on the way,” Murray said.

“We were very thankful that we weren’t fighting it alone,” Abigail Murray added.

Steiner has begun the legal process, and NH1 will keep you updated on his progress. This case isn’t simple because there’s debate over what was promised and what’s actually written in hand on this contract.

Steiner said that’s always a big red flag. If something is promised to you – like repairs – it should be typed out in full in the signed contract.

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