STUART, Fla. — L.D. Schneider came out to WPTV's "Let's Hear It" viewer meet-up at the House of Refuge in Stuart, and he wanted to vent.
"They just really ripped me off bad and I'm angry about it," Schneider said.
Almost six months ago, Schneider leased a car from a Treasure Coast dealership. It was his first time and possibly his last. He said the dealership took him for a ride. He showed WPTV the paperwork to prove it.
"They literally changed numbers," Schneider said. "They put our signatures in places they didn't belong. They added numbers and deleted numbers from the contract. I think that's contract fraud."
WPTV found slight changes to dates and dollar amounts on the contract Schneider thought he agreed to and the version the finance company later put online. Consumer attorney Michael Schiff said it's not uncommon.
"I suspect what happened is when this consumer was signing, he or she may not have seen everything," Schiff said. "Maybe signed it on a rubber pad as we do a lot today and then when they got home said, 'Uh oh.'"
The Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is supposed to regulate car dealer complaints, but Schiff said in his experience, the agency often turns a blind eye. He said consumers may be able to get help from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent watchdog.
Schneider said some of the charges were disclosed up front but not all, including an add-on to which he never agreed.
"I'm just angry about that," Schneider said. "I expected to overpay and everything else. I'm OK with that. But I don't expect to get ripped off that badly."