JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many customers of a car dealership that has abruptly closed its doors worry that their car could be repossessed through no fault of their own.
American Car Center is a Memphis-based company that laid off more than 300 employees at its headquarters for the first time last Friday. It also closed its doors at its three Jacksonville locations on Atlantic Boulevard, Cassat Avenue and Blanding Boulevard.
The News4JAX I-TEAM found that the American Car Center has 45 dealerships in 10 states and, according to multiple reports, closed its doors the day after it closed a deal that could have helped the company’s finances.
Customers who spoke to the I-TEAM said they received no warning that the business was closing and they did not know where to send their car payments.
Janet Stewart rented a 2016 Ford Escape through the dealership and is worried about the consequences of not being able to pay her bill.
“When I tried to log into my account to enter the information, it was deleted. My account has been deleted. The site has been removed. Everything was gone,” Stewart said.
Steward said all American Car Center vehicles have tracking devices and kill switches, which can disable the vehicle when the bill is not paid.
“If you’re driving and let’s say you stopped somewhere, to the store. If you haven’t paid anything, they can cut the starter where you can’t start your car at all,” she said.
Steward said she received a text from the Westlake Portfolio Management Group on Wednesday night, which reads in part:
“The best way to manage your car lease is through your MyAccount portal,” which requires her to enter her personal information.
Steward and other clients of American Car Center News4JAX spoke to question the company’s legitimacy.
Tennessee officials said Westlake Financial Services is buying the loans made through the American Car Center subsidiary.
The American Car Center has an updated website for customers to make payments, including a payment portal, an option to pay by phone, and a check payment location.
Even if you are one of the hundreds of clients who have received a text message from Westlake Portfolio Management, you can still contact them, but just give them your account number and have a representative provide you with your personal information.
The CFO Noah Logan reportedly sent the following email to employees:
“We have worked incredibly hard for months to avoid this outcome, but at this point we have no choice. Effective today, February 24, 2023, all employees of the Company will be terminated. On behalf of the company, thank you for your efforts and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”
The American Car Center is also now facing a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of its employees who were not notified that they had lost their jobs.
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