Repo Man

Here is a fun blast from the past.  This was originally posted in February 2010.

A few years ago, we bought a new truck.  We brought our old truck in as a trade, but the offer was bordering on insulting, so we kept it.

We posted the old truck on CarSoup, the classifieds, and anywhere else we could find to post it.  Nothing.  After a few weeks, we finally found a

http://www.flickr.com/photos/-evidence-/2063223009/

Repossession

buyer–a friend we had hired to help with a large remodel on our house.   He didn’t have all of the money to buy it, but we knew him, we knew his family, and he was work for us.  It should have been a low-risk loan.  We’d give him the truck, he’d make monthly payments.  Simple, right?

That was the plan.  He made payments for about six months.  When the starter died, we forgave that amount of the debt.  When we was short, we’d let him skip a payment.  Were were good lenders, at least from his perspective.

Then, “I’m a little short this month” stretched into two months, three, six.   Then one day, he fell off the face of the planet.  I found out later, he’d canceled his phone and left the state.  We were the kind of lenders that get banks closed down by bad business decisions.

What could we do?  Fortunately, we’d created a written loan agreement and entered ourselves as the loan holder during the title transfer.  I eventually filed the repossession payment…a year after he disappeared.  I figured, if by some chance the truck got impounded, we’d get it back.

A few months later, we were driving down the highway that just happened to pass within sight of his brother’s shop.  I just happened to glance in that direction as we drove past.  I’m sure I caught my wife by surprise with the sudden u-turn.  I found our truck.  The long-lost friend was back in the state, staying in his brother’s shop.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="196" caption=" "] [/caption]The next day, I brought another friend to the shop.  We knocked on the door.  No answer.  I left a note on the shop door and we took the truck, using the spare keys I kept when we sold it.  I had just completed my first–and so far, only–repossession.   I’m not a bank or a repo man, just a guy who got screwed.

Possession was mine.  Wrongs were righted.  The truck was tentatively sold immediately.  If the buyer couldn’t pay, the truck was gone.  He called, offering his apologies and hoping to get the truck back and start making payments again.   I accepted his apologies and kept the truck.   People are only allowed to rip me off once.  Almost two years without a payment or even an excuse is too much for me to accept.  So far, I am the only person I know to manage a legal repossession as a private party.

The repo process varies by state, but the basics don’t change much.  The loan holder can file for repossession as soon as the loan agreement is broken.  They can repossess with no notice and the borrower is on the hook for the difference between what’s owed and twhat’s recovered during resale.  If you get to the point of repossession, you are out of options.  You are generally left to pay the debt in full, or lose the vehicle.  If you are accepting payments from a friend to buy a car, make sure you have a written agreement and are listed as the loan holder on the title.  Keep some leverage to avoid getting screwed.

How far have you gone to recover money you are owed?

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  • 4 comments

    Comments

    1. Awesome ending!

      We don’t lend money out very often, but we have gotten majorly screwed…not a very happy ending.

      We invested $15,000 in a game store ran by a friend in 2007…she hadn’t told us that it was pretty much too late and the business closed 6 months later. During it’s last open week, we requested all the unsold merchandise (not much) for $50 and resold it on Ebay for about $300. She also gave us back about $200.

      We have deducted the loss on our taxes over 3 years and ended up being out a total of about $11,000. We never pursued the matter legally since it was technically a business investment.

      We try to consider it as an expensive lesson learned, but I’m still bitter. The “friend” had to file bankruptcy and moved away a couple of years ago. We were able to afford the loss and still put 20% down on our home which is 8 years or less from being paid off. My mental saving grace is that karma is a b!tch…

    2. I can’t believe I’m going to disclose this, but here goes. Many many years ago, I bugged a friend over and over to repay $1. He did repay, and to this day, I still feel guilty for making a big deal about a buck.

    3. Way to go.

      You must have seen the movie Repo Man with Emillio Esteves.

      It’s pretty rare to get the opportunity to recover a loss like this and I’m glad that you took advantage of it. It’s amazing how some people feel no guilt from ripping off friends who have helped them out. This guy could have made a good living from the truck you sold him on payments. He deserves to be walking.

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