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Troubleshooters: Local car salesman drives off with woman's deposit

READ MORE: Troubleshooters: Local car salesman drives off with woman's deposit
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In this week's Troubleshooters Report, we talk with Wilmington woman who put $1,000 down on a used car at a local dealership. When she went back to get the car, she found it had been sold to someone else, and her salesman no longer worked there. When Pamela Pickett asked for her money back, Wilmington Nissan said no. "I liked the car, we test drove the car, and then he told me that other people may want the car, so he told me to put $300 down to hold the car, and that's what I did," described Pamela Prickett. It sounds like a typical experience for someone going through the ordeal of buying a used car, but Pamela Pickett's experience was anything but typical. After making 3 separate payments totaling a thousand dollars in cash on a 95 Honda Accord, Pamela went to Wilmington Nissan to pick up her car. But Leon Burwell, the salesman who had taken Pamela's down payment, was a no-show. "The other salesman came up to me and said, ‘You know, that car you were talking about, has been sold.’ He said we sold that car 3 days ago," Pamela said. The dealership did a little research, and realized Leon Burwell had pocketed Pamela's money. Even though she had receipts on Wilmington Nissan letterhead, the managers told her to take this up with the salesman, Mr. Burwell, because they were not giving her a refund. Pamela added, "I was very upset because they laughed. They thought it was funny when I was talking to them, and I said, ‘Well I don't have a thousand dollars to give away like that’, I told them I just wanted my money back." According to a Wilmington Police report, Leon Burwell admitted to taking Pamela's money, and they have taken out warrants for his arrest. But attorneys we talked to said Wilmington Nissan still shares some liability. "Even though the dealership is taking a hard line, saying we're not responsible for the wrongful acts of this employee, who is now gone and has criminal charges against him, there is a relationship created there, and there are potential causes of action for that customer," said attorney Chad Hogston. Hogston said Pamela has two legitimate legal claims against Wilmington Nissan. The law considers an employer responsible for the actions of their employee, if the employee wrongs a customer within the scope of their employment. While the dealership might not be responsible if, for example, an employee was dealing drugs on the clock, they could be liable if he committed fraud under the guise of a car deal. Secondly, Pamela may have a claim against Wilmington Nissan for negligent hiring, since Leon Burwell has a criminal record for fraud. But Hogston said above and beyond the legal arena, it just makes sense for the dealership to make things right with Pamela. "I would think that you want to make the customers happy. And we're not talking about a heck of a lot of money here, so because of that, the $1000, I think, is worth making the customer happy. The intangibles are huge there," said Hogston. The owner of Wilmington Nissan did not want to talk on camera. He is standing firm that the dealership did not do anything wrong, and they are not responsible for Leon Burwell's actions. Furthermore, he questions whether the money actually changed hands at the dealership. Pamela insists it did, and the receipts and police report support her version of events. Since hiring an attorney to fight for $1000 would be cost prohibitive, small claims court may be her only option for recovering her money. One take away point to keep this from ever happening to you: don't pay in cash, because it makes it a lot easier for someone to pocket your money.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Sales

This sales person has sold me several cars in the past . What person in their right mind would give them cash. Common sense you do not give a sales person cash. I sold cars as well. They would give the check or cash to the cashier . We would walk them to the back . Something is fishy about this . Two sides to a story . According to a resource she lied

salesman who took money

Several years ago a mobile home salesman took off with my downpayment . We moved into the home . Two months laer when I went to the well known mobile home dealer to ask for my payment book , which I never received , they informed me that the salesman no longer worked there and that was not my home . I was forced to move , however within a year my attorney got me my $ back and all expenses caused by the move . It can be done , and they are responsible . It never costed me a penny .

Nissan owner

this story aired 10 June 2009 and people are still upset about it. I wonder just how much this underhanded dealing has hurt Wilmington Nissan. I know I will remember this come car buying time. I don't want to support any dealer that lets this happen on thier lot.

BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE

I PURCHASED A VIHICLE FROM NISSAN THAT STAYED IN THE SHOP LONGER THAN I DROVE IT.DURING THAT TIME I WAS BACK AND FORTH @ THE SERVICE DEPARTMENT FOR SEVERAL DIFERENT THINGS THAT WAS NEVER FIXED.THIS WENT ON FOR MONTHS. THE MAJOR ISSUE WAS, IT WAS RAINING INSIDE THE VEHICLE AND WE HAD TO TAKE IT BACK EVERYTIME IT RAINED AND IT STILL NEVER WAS FIXED.THEY SAID THEY COULDNT FIND THE LEAK BUT WE HAVE ALL THE PAPERWORK SHOWING THE AMOUNT OF TIMES IT WAS IN THE SHOP AND PICTURES SHOWING IT RAINING IN THE VIHICLE. SO THERFORE WE TURNED IT IN AND NOW OUR CREDIT IS JACKED UP.

You just "sold" your reputation for $1000.00.

You just "sold" your reputation for $1000.00. Hope it's worth it to you. Look at this board. NO ONE is on your side. You have just lost more than $1,000.00 by people not shopping with you. You should have paid her back, apologized profusely and hoped that this never hit the news. Now this woman has to go to court to get her money back. Whatever the outcome you have forgotten about the most important court. THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION. Shame on you!!!

THIS IS SOOO WRONG. I HOPE

THIS IS SOOO WRONG. I HOPE AN ATTORNEY WILL VOLUNTEER THEIR SERVICES TO HELP THIS LADY. IF THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS, THEN WILMINGTON NISSAN IS A ALSO A CROOK.

to the owner of Wilm, Nissan

"The owner of Wilmington Nissan is standing firm that the dealership did not do anything wrong, and they are not responsible for Leon Burwell's actions. Furthermore, he questions whether the money actually changed hands at the dealership." I thought perhaps maybe it was just the regular employee's that where acting stupid now I see it is the OWNER. Whoever you are dear you have a LOT to learn about customer service and hiring felons. You hired him, you are responsible 100 and 10 percent. Problem now is your reputation is ruined and paying her back will be too little too late. I say you GIVE her a new car as well , free and clear for her hassle. You better be glad this was not me because unlike this nice lady I have the cash to sue you.

What really matters here is

What really matters here is even if the dealer refunds her money, their practice of how they handled this is their scar to bare,for good. Way to go Wilmington Nissan. Say Lah Veeeeeeeee!

Wilm Nissan

...and then to add insult to injury, THEY LAUGHED at her! It doesnt matter if she paid by cash or check, she had receipts w/their logo that showed that she paid the money. Whether I pay a bill or buy a car it doesnt matter if I gave a check or cash, the point is that SHE DID PAY & has absolutely nothing to show for it (car, nor refund) that is total BS. I WILL NEVER ADVISE ANYONE TO BUY AT CAR FROM THIS PLACE!

For shame

In this day when businesses are clamoring for customers, choosing to do a customer this way just does not make good business sense. It looks to me as if they would be bending over backwards to get this situation resolved instead of garnering so much negative publicity. Also, I hope the catch the salesman and follow up with charging him with something. Sounds like a con artist!!!!! The company should give her the money back, and go after the salesman to recover!!!!! Their reputation has been damaged and they need to do some recovering fast!

I have a Nissan

Not bought from there but I will certainly never use their service department or buy from there in the future. I will also pass the word around. Not a smart business move.

The attorney is absolutely

The attorney is absolutely right - the salesman has an "agent" relationship with the dealership. That slaesman has the right to enter the dealership into contracts to sell its merchandise. If he accepts money for these sales, he is accepting on behalf of the dealership. The dealership is responsible for the deposit paid. In addition, why would a dealership not just buck up and pay her? The bad press from this will end up costing them a lot more than $1,000. How many customers will pass by this business when looking for a new car? Their stance makes no business sense, or legal sense at all.

That $1000.00 laugh will

That $1000.00 laugh will cost them many $$$$ in future lost sales. I will never buy from them or a Nissan vehicle in the future. Thank you for sharing this.

Cash?

The woman is to blame as much as anybody. How about writing a check? How about a money order? I know they still make these. What in the world? Giving a car salesman cash. I am totally shocked that someone could actually trust a car salesman. The blame is with the woman as well. How naive can you be?

Business

Are you saying that anytime an employee acts in the name of a business the business is not liable. I don't own a Nissan but I would not do business with a Company that I know would not hesitate to cheat me.

An idiotic statement!

Are you kidding? This woman went into a legitimate business buy a car with the best currency available, "CASH" and got a receipt. Not a thing wrong with that and has nothing to do with naiveity! She wasn't making a street corner drug deal or a shady Sunday bootleg liquor buy for Christ's sake! I wouldn't be surprised if YOU aren't the salesman that took her money! The only blame here is a shady dealership and I promise that there won't be an automobile from Wilmington Nissan in my driveway. All the info I need to make a purchase is to hear of business such as this. Businesses should never forget that this is still a small town and you will build a well-renowned reputation overnight...be it good or bad! Thanks for showing us ALL who you are Wilmington Nissan!!! You never get a second chance to make a first impression!!!

nope

MOST people have faith that the person they are dealing with is honorable. She got receipts so I do not see a problem with it. Heck I never use cash myself but wouldn't have a problem handing it over to a car dealership as long as I got a receipt. WN are a business who I thought where respectable until now anyway. Did she have a contract to hold/buy the car?

Amazing!

I can't see how the dealership thinks this isn't their fault. She paid the dealership the money. If an employee stole it after that, it's their problem. This dealership is going to regret their decision not to refund the money when the lawyers get done with them. Not to mention the bad word of mouth, which in this town, can be lethal.

Wilmington Nissan

Glad I read this. I actually test drove a car there yesterday and was discussing the purchase with my wife earlier. Hope the owner reads this now cause he just lost my sale....

Wilmington Nissan

This is unbelievable. I will never do business with Wilmington Nissan. I hope they step up and do the right thing.

I

KNOW where my money ISN'T GOING...

Wilmington Nissan

Thanks, for letting us know this dealers stance, and what he thinks of his customers. Well, I know, this I will never step foot on that dealership property,nor buy a NISSAN. A word to the wise is sufficiant. Thanks,LEE

Car Sales = Dishonesty

You better believe Wilmington Nissan shares responsibility of this...I had a situation in which a dealership did an unethical thing, and they laughed about it too...but luckily it worked out for us. I hope you can laugh in their face when they have to pony up $1000 plus interest...and I also hope this gets more press so people don't buy from them.

I'm so glad you posted this

I'm so glad you posted this story. I'm in the market for a new or used car and I will NOT be doing business with this dealership. It is disgusting that this dealership isn't refunding this womans money. We are in a bad economy and people are working harder than ever to hang on to a buck. Seems like Wilmington Nissan is trying to take advantage of a situation they helped create.

I just test drove there last

I just test drove there last week and had decided to buy one from them! You can bet I won't now, and better than that, I am telling EVERYONE I KNOW TO TELL EVERYONE THEY KNOW that this car dealership is BAD NEWS!!!! Shame on you Wilmington Nissan!!!

re: 2 sides to every story

I am surprised on how many people are quick to take this ladys side. For all anyone knows she could be setting the dealership up to try and make some cash. I have seen the same exact type thing happen to a lady in another North Carolina dealership and once the TRUTH came out the dealership was in the right. Think about this you bunch of brain surgeons, its only a thousand dollars, don't you think a multi million dollar company would just want something like this to just go away and pay it if they were wrong and owed this lady the money???? My opinion is that Wilmington Nissan knows they don't owe this lady a dime and if they give her the money whats to say she won't set them up again. GREAT JOB WILMINGTON NISSAN you have a customer for life!

Con Man for life

In response to Mr. Faulkner I actually am ashamed to say this but I know this con man and if the woman says he did it he did it. He has been in the con man business for many years and hasn't stopped yet. He is a horrible person who only cares about him self. I feel sorry for anyone who comes in contact with him his life is one big lie and con game his whole record shows that. I hope this lady got her money and I hope Wilmington Nissan does a better background check on who they hire because this man should never be hired anywhere!!!

joe faulker

Answer me one question Joe Faulker. How can she be setting the dealership up if she has the receipts to show she paid the salesman the money. It's not like she's trying to cheat them out of anything. She's not even asking for anything extra. All she wants is HER money back. That's no more then fair. And it's HER money. She worked for it. Wilmington Nissan should be ashamed of themselves for what they are doing to a hard working female. How would WN feel if someone did a member of their family like that? They'd want to sue the pants off them! Put yourself in this lady's shoes. Picture somebody stealing $1000 of your money. You'd probably go after them with both barrels. And yet YOU don't think she has the right to HER money back? Shame on Wilmington Nissan and Shame on you Joe Faulker!

Unbelieveable!

I cannot believe 1. these crooked salesmen actually laughed at this woman's face because she was robbed by a former employee and 2. that Wilmington Nissan will not admit any wrong doing in this case! What are they thinking?? I truly hope their business goes under for this, with the owner leading the descent to unemployment! You can bet I'll never do business with them, and will tell everyone I know about this incredible injustice. I'm really glad this story hit the media so we can all consider ourselves warned to stay as far away from Wilmington Nissan as possible!