MESQUITE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - At least a dozen customers of Fenton Hyundai in Mesquite say they still have no proof of ownership, months after purchasing their vehicles.
"Every time I drive it, there's a cloud hanging over my head. If something happens, I don't own this car," said Kathie Clark.
Clark bought her car five months ago and is still waiting on her title. She said instead of providing a permanent license plate, Fenton Hyundai continues to send her temporary plates.
She's received three temporary tags since purchasing her vehicle in October.
"I'm wondering how many temporary tags I have to go through before setting a record," Clark said.
That title may be held by Laura Taylor of Shreveport, Louisiana. She drove hours to purchase a Chrysler Pacifica from Fenton. That was back in July 2018. Since then, she's received four temporary tags.
"It's just kind of a mess," Taylor said.
Taylor said she cannot get her Louisiana plates without Fenton first processing her title.
The Ones for Justice found 45 complaints filed against Fenton Hyundai with the Texas DMV.
Many of the customers claim Fenton never processed their tax, title and license fees, or TT&L.
"It's time to get a little ugly about it," said Daryl Adams, who traded in his vehicle in December.
He said not only did Fenton fail to pay his TT&L, but it took the dealership two months to pay off his trade-in vehicle.
"Every week that goes by showing a late payment, it's shredding my credit," said Adams.
He said when the bank tried to repossess his old car, he told them he had no idea where it might be.
Adams claimed Fenton had sold the vehicle without transferring the title.
"How can you sell a car without access to the title?" Adams said.
Several weeks later, Adams received paperwork stating his old car had been impounded in Georgetown. He said Fenton paid off the remainder of the car's balance shortly following that incident.
Fenton owns dealerships in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, but owner Brad Fenton said he has sold off 16 businesses in he past five years.
He declined an on-camera interview, opting to communicate through email only.
Fenton said the Mesquite store "was under contract to previous corporate managers to buy back in September."
He went on to explain those corporate managers "were waiting on approvals and messed it up being very sloppy with the business."
Brad Fenton said he terminated their contract in early January and has "been cleaning up their mess since I believe we are getting closer to having old problems resolved."
In another message to the Ones for Justice, Fenton said transfers of ownership take time, writing, "like everything in life some go smoothly and some take more effort."
The sale of Fenton Nissan in Rockwall may fall into the latter category.
A spokesperson for Dibre Auto Group, which purchased Fenton Nissan, said the sale covered "assets only," meaning the company did not assume any of Fenton's liabilities or debts.
Days after the sale finalized, the spokesperson said they received a letter from the DMV about 91 cases of unpaid TT&L under Fenton.
The new owner claims to have paid $125,000 to rectify the issues. Brad Fenton denies that and insists he set aside money for those fees.
Fenton said he is in the process of selling the Hyundai dealership but would not identify the potential buyer.
Ken Strickler, of Kamkad Auto Group, said he is in negotiations to buy Fenton Hyundai but the deal has not been finalized.
Kamkad also purchased 360 Smart Car in Arlington, another dealership at the center of another Ones for Justice investigation.
In the meantime, Fenton Hyundai customers remain in limbo, waiting to claim what's already theirs.
"This is not a way to do business with me or anyone else," Adams said.
In March, Capital One filed a lawsuit against Fenton Motors.
The filing alleges Fenton did not process the title paperwork for numerous vehicles in which Capital One acted as a primary lender.
County tax offices offer various vehicle title and registration services, but if a Texas resident purchases a vehicle from a Texas dealer, the dealership should handle TT&L.
If you find yourself in this situation, file a complaint with the Texas DMV by clicking here.
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