'I'm too stressed': Brandon couple suing Winnipeg car dealership says trade-in left them out $28K

Instead of an unreliable van, Warren Houle says he's dealing with an unreliable car dealership after a trade-in dispute that's left him out almost $30,000.

A Brandon couple say they're out nearly $30,000 after a dispute that's left them paying for two vehicles — the one they traded in, and the new one they bought.

"I can't sleep at night ... I'm too stressed out," he said. "It's screwing up my credit."

Houle and his wife, Mary, who live in Brandon, traded in their 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan for a 2016 Chrysler Town and Country van at Winnipeg's SRT Auto in September 2016. Houle said they wanted a newer, more reliable vehicle for a planned road trip to British Columbia. 

"I wanted to see my daughter ... we have a daughter that we haven't seen for 11 years," Mary said. "I told them I need a good van."

But what was supposed to be a simple trade-in went downhill not long after, said Warren.

The Houles were quoted a trade-in value of $28,157 for their 2013 van — a relatively high value for the vehicle, according to the Canadian Black Book website — which they understood would be applied to the outstanding loan for that vehicle.

But in a statement of claim with Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench, the Houles say the used car lot didn't use the proceeds of the trade-in to settle the outstanding loan.

They say that's left them paying both the loan on the 2013 van, and for the new van.

"A month later [TD bank] took money out of our account for the 2013 van," Warren said.

Hugh Cummins, listed as the director of SRT Auto in the statement of claim, declined to comment when contacted by CBC News. No statement of defence has been filed and the allegations haven't been proven in court. 

The Houles are suing for $28,157 for the loan, plus interest. Their lawyer, Abi Obafemi, said the couple was verbally told the money from the trade-in would go towards the loan for the 2013 van and that the couple didn't have a written agreement to that effect.

They allege SRT Auto hasn't made any payments to the outstanding loan or to them. According to Houle, SRT Auto said they would look into it when he called a month after they bought the new van but he hasn't gotten any answers since. 

TD bank had been constantly calling, sometimes multiple times per day, Houle says. After repeatedly explaining the situation, he said the bank did suspend automatic withdrawals for the old loan, but only until the end of April. 

Toll on family finances, health

Mary said the situation has taken a toll on the family's finances. 

"We don't have [any] money at all after we pay the rent," she said, adding that she and her husband live on a tight budget and there isn't much money left over after the bills are paid each month. This year, there was no money left for Christmas. 

She said it's also taken a toll on their health. Warren is recovering from a stroke and she is on disability assistance due to a hip injury. She said her kids worry about the added stress.

Warren said this is the third vehicle he and his wife have bought from SRT Auto. The other two transactions went as planned, he said, despite mechanical issues leading to the trade-in of the 2013 van. He said confidently that this transaction will be the last. 

The Better Business Bureau lists SRT Auto's rating as an F and lists two complaints against the company in the last year. 

Mary said all she wants to do is take the new van back, but she knows she can't. 

Meanwhile, Warren is just frustrated over the whole situation. 

"Why?" he said. "We thought you [SRT Auto] would help us out." 

Article 'I'm too stressed': Brandon couple suing Winnipeg car dealership says trade-in left them out $28K compiled by www.cbc.ca

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