CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - The president of the Better Business Bureau told FOX 46 Charlotte on Wednesday that the agency is ‘pleased’ the state has charged Auto City’s owner with felonies.
As FOX 46 Charlotte reported, warrants were issued for the arrest of Evgenii Desiatnikov on two counts of obtaining property by false pretense, a class H felony in North Carolina.
The charges come after a series of FOX 46 Charlotte investigations into the used car dealership’s business practices.
“Their general business practices, they rank at the bottom,” BBB President Tom Bartholomy said. "We were very pleased, very gratified that the law enforcement agencies would take an interest in what looks like a little used car dealership on Independence Boulevard, but then they can see those complaints and dig into it deeper, they could really see just what kind of business practices were involved with their company.”
Bartholomy had seen FOX 46 Charlotte’s reports, and said the allegations uncovered in them matched up with the complaints the BBB had been receiving over the years.
“Shoddy product, shoddy paperwork, illegal activity, and these are all reported by their customers,” Bartholomy said. “When we present it to the company their basic response is no response, so they’ve earned a F rating with us, that’s the lowest rating we can give a company.”
As FOX 46 Charlotte has reported, former employees accuse Auto City of selling knowingly faulty salvage vehicles to unsuspecting customers, while sometimes not being truthful about the vehicle titles.
Customers told FOX 46 the vehicles they bought from Auto City broke down numerous times since purchase, leaving them without transportation.
“Now that the state is involved, they’re alleging illegal activity and that’s exactly what these complaints were pointing out,” Bartholomy said. “The charges also explain to them in no uncertain terms the seriousness of their actions, that there’s consequences for taking advantage of your customers like that.”
Bartholomy said he can think of only one other business in the Charlotte area with the same level of complaints as Auto City, and that business has since been shut down.
He also pointed out that customers have to take more responsibility.
“A lot of used car dealerships have their own financing arm so they guarantee you're going to be approved for a loan, but you look at some of the terms these folks are signing with the contracts and you go my goodness, how desperately do you need that car that you're willing to agree to these types of terms? Do your research, do you want to do business with a company that's F rated? That's taking advantage of their customers? Once you read these complaints that we've posted on our website, I wouldn't want to do business with that company based on other people's experience.”
Bartholomy said that it’s unlikely the customers who feel they were wronged will ever get their money back unless the Attorney General’s office ends up stepping in with civil action.
“I'm stumped as to why people still turn in there, but they do, it's on a busy street, they've got good looking cars sitting out front, that's sometimes all people need to be able to turn in and then unfortunately what's happened to others happens to them,” Bartholomy said.