The South Chicago Auto Auction of Harvey, Illinois is messed up. There is so much wrong with this place I don't even know where to begin. I am still trying to wrap my head around everything that happened to us this last Saturday (February 11,2012).
First of all I'll tell you that we had to drive about 3 hours to get there and so we had planned to go purchase a vehicle and then spend the weekend in Chicago and Schaumburg with our children. We thought we would only be there from 11am-3pm. The website and all the adds state that the auction is from 12-3 and we could view the cars from 11-12. The website (and also the employees, when we called) said that if we print off the add for the car we wanted to purchase that we could buy it for the advertised price. We printed off about 10 different vehicles we were interested in because we were unsure of how many other people would be after the same cars and we did not want to leave empty handed after driving so far.
We get there and start asking questions. They line you up like you're in some kind of concentration camp with NO answers! Everytime you asked someone who worked there a question their response was "I don't know." or "I don't have time for questions!" or "Go ask that person."—Then when we would ask that person, there would be no answer. Finally, dozens of people in the crowd had tried to ask questions, none of us getting any answers and people were mad.
We are all led outside to look at the cars. We are kept in the middle section of the lot. I saw one or two of the cars I liked online and the guy said "These cars are off limits!" I said "Why?" He said, "They're sold already."
The auction starts, they start the vehicles from a high number like 6-8 thousand dollars, mind you, almost all the cars online were between 1,300-2,900$ the people here didn't bring any extra $. They may have brought a couple hundred extra for taxes (that are all unknown because noone answers any questions). If the car bids did not stay high enough for their liking, they drove it out (only to bring it back in about 5 more times to try and sell it).
So there is a room full of pissed off people with a limited amount of money all waiting for their car that they chose online to come through, which never comes through. We finally get the head honcho to pay us a little attention. My kids' father asked the guy about the print off, he took the paper and said he would be back (we had hope) then he comes back and says they've never started the car, they don't have a key and we can purchase it as is (2,500$) and we wouldn't even be allowed to look at it before we purchased it. We chose not to take the risk.
By the way, they have heat in there but not enough, my kids and myself and their father were freezing the entire day so by about 3:30 (auction was already supposed to be over but no clear sign it was ending) I was worried I would walk away without a vehicle. A decent looking little 2001 Mazda Millenia pulled through and noone was bidding on it. I bid for 2,100$ thinking I'd make it out of there paying about as much as I had wanted to pay for my first choice that they didn't have keys to. I think... Great! We can finally get the hell out of here and go to the Willis Tower and to the hotel after that. My kids were really looking forward to this... It was an early birthday trip for my daughter's 7th birthday.
When you win a bid they send you back to pay immediately (or so I thought). We go back and they will only allow me back there because I was the one who filled out the paper work (no doubt, they do this so the husband or whoever is with you won't be able to say no and question it with you... Together we would have likely decided against the purchase, although they said once you bid and win you are legally binded to pay for the car).
I go back the guy says "Give me 600$ deposit". I said "I want to pay for the car all right now and take it now." He says "NO, you come back after the auction about 4:30-5 o'clock and pick up your car then." I'm baffled, he already has my money and I don't know what to think.
We leave and use the bathroom (because the restroom had no toilet paper and pee all over the seat) Myself or my daughter did not want to use that bathroom, I don't know how it would be possible to use it. We come back arount 4:45. They are lining people up who have purchased a car. The auction is still going on. It lasted till 5:30. We were in line just waiting all that time (while no one was bidding on the vehicles). Remember the auction was supposed to be over at 3. I was still hopeful we would be out of there in time to go to the tower and be able to let the kids swim at the hotel.
No such luck! We were in line forever and finally about 6:15 the guy takes our slip (our reciept). We are in a room full of people all waiting to get our vehicles with no proof of any payment because they took everyone's reciepts. Everyone is starting to get much more angry by now. They turned the heat off in half of the room, so most people gathered up in one side of the building where the remaining minimal heating source was. People were starting to yell, they were pissed, and rightfully so.
I was concerned the whole time. I was afraid they were going to rip us off but was unsure of how it would be done. The "bidding paddle" had the rules which stated we would have to pay 151$ for documentation fees, 99$ for auction fee, and a buyer's premium (?). The less your bid, the higher your premium. My bid was 2,100$ so my premium was 24%; that totalled 420$. When I did the math that would be 2,100 151 99 420=2,770. I could deal with that because I brought enough cash to cover the 2,500 for the car I wanted plus some more money for the hotel and stuff. I was worried they were going to rip us out of our 600$ deposit so I had my kids' dad go and try the ATM machine to get out 2-300$ more just in case.
The ATM machine didn't work (wouldn't let him take $ out of my account... How convenient...). They want you to be short on cash (which is the only form of payment they take by the way) so you can leave the vehicle there. See they charge a 50$ "storage" fee per day that you leave the car there. Then on top of that, they only give you 5 days to pick it up. The auction was on Saturday and they are not open on Sunday. If you do not pick up the car within the 5 days, they keep your deposit and you are skrewed. Some people paid over 1,000$ deposits because the deposit is 25% of your bid. He ended up driving to the gas station ATM to get cash out and later in the night drove a guy who we met to the gas station for the same reason.
They didn't call anyone back to get their cars for an hour or more and we were restless (no chairs the whole day either and we were all confined in the yellow caution tape. My back hurt from shivering all day, my feet and legs hurt from standing, I had to use the restroom but couldn't leave for fear they would call my name. My 7 year old daughter went up and told the "security guard" that she had to pee and he told her to go use the bathroom.
She told him about the condition of that bathroom and he told her he didn't know what she could do. Her dad then went up and asked if there was another woman's bathroom we could take her to and he said for him to take her to the men's bathroom (which he and my son have already said are in worse condition than the women's). Her dad said no! The man said he had nothing to do with the bathroom and so her dad called the man a d*ckhead. Her dad then went and asked if he could at least get some toilet paper... The man told him to go to the McDonald's up the road... So he did.
My kids were pissed, they were crying and cold and wanted to sit down. Their trip was already ruined. It is now after 8pm and they knew there was no chance of going to the tower or to swim at the hotel. They had been calling people in but really about 1 person every 15-20 minutes. A woman came up and told a group of us how bad they were going to skrew us because she came to their Wednesday auction and she came from Milwaukee and did not have enough cash and so she had to come back. Like I said, I already had a feeling about these people and got the cash. There were people there though who didn't know about it or did know but didn't have any extra money. It's tax time, most of us only had the money we got from taxes and bid for that amount or a little less. Many people who wanted to buy new cars for their family, to better themselves were in a position to be worse off than when they came because they had now savings, no money for the fees... What are they going to do?
When my kids' dad took my daughter to the McDonald's to the restroom, he saw a couple of guys that had left the auction with their newly purchased vehicle. It would not start. There was a man there who road the train in hopes of being able to drive his new car home. However, we don't know if his car made it home or not. The room was dwindling down, many people left because they caught wind of the hidden fees and knew they couldn't afford it. Some were still getting called back from time to time. We heard the cops had been called a few times to handle some "disorderly" consumers. Imagine if it were you. I wanted to get pretty friggin disorderly myself.
Finally they call my name. We go back, they will only allow me back there, my kids' dad was pissed, I told him to calm down so they wouldn't call the cops on him... If they were even real cops because all the security had police outfits on that were unmatching. It was disgusting with crap everywhere, dirt, filth, tons of employees I had seen throughout the day but hadn't seen in hours. They said, "sit down, sit down, just have a seat!" Real rude, I'm like geeze, could you give me time to walk to the friggin chair before you start getting sh*tty with me. I go into an "office". The guy hands me a bill of sale that looks like this:
Purchase price: 2,100
buyer premium: 420
auction fee: 99
Tax on purchase: 236
Title, plate & doc: 345
storage fee: 0
postage fee: 25
total amt due: 3225
amt of money paid: 600
balance due: 2625
This is bull sh*t. What was I gonna do though? I had been treated like sh*t all day, I was miserable, I wanted to leave soooooo bad. I paid. They sent me to a cashier who had me fill out all the paperwork for the temp tag and stuff... Then I was asked to sign a lost title form and not date it. I asked the woman, "are these cars stolen?" She sarcastically said "YEAH!" I said, "well, you know, why are you having me sign this piece of paper?" She said it was so they could file the title transfer in my name for me. I know little about what goes on with regards to titles and title transfers, so I signed it.
It was also funny because none of the "main guys or girls" signed my bill of sale. They had one of the men from out of this country (who could barely speak english) sign it. One of the guys who did nothing more than drive vehicles through the auction block, sweep ice off the concrete etc... Why did he sign my sheet? Are they trying to cover their butts on some stolen vehicles by making their laborers the fall guys in case they get caught? Why was it that they didn't have the keys to that one car I wanted? Why was it that the car I actually did purchase had been pried open at the driver door at one time? I don't know either... Fishy.
We finally get my car about 10:00pm. (we were there for about 11 hours straigt minus a 1 hour break in the middle). We pull the car around the corner to let it warm up and to check it out. We let it run about 5 minutes (it was only 12 degrees outside). I go get in the car, it dies. It will not start again. I am pissed. We decide to drive clear back home to get a truck and trailor to haul it home with. The gas alone costs me 100$ each way. My kids were devastated. Our whole trip was cancelled, because of time, exhaustion and now because we are broke.
Thank you so much Chicago Auto Auction of Harvey Illinois, for bending me and many others over and skrewing the sh*t out of us.