Thursday, February 18, 2010

A cautionary tale

Repossessions - I hate them.

Maybe it is because I'm forever fending off creditors myself, being the cliched and eternally cash strapped dodgy investigator that I am, or maybe it is that I see myself as what it says on my licence... a PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR not repossession agent. Anyway, beggars/choosers and all that, I just take the work that I get and swallow my pride.

 But this job I just did the other day really serves as a reminder to people out there who take others at face value: don't. It always pays to check.

As per usual, I receive the paperwork for a Repo Warrant from my client. Seems straightforward enough although rather than the almost obligatory piece of crap that I'm tasked with uplifting, this is a fairly new Chrysler 300C. At least it is distinctive and I shouldn't have too many problems finding it. Unlike most repossessions, this was issued as an 'at-risk' warrant as the vehicle had been on-sold to another party.

Of course, nothing ever is straightforward. The address I was given seems to be a bust, it is an inner-city address and not residential and, more importantly, nowhere to park a vehicle without having it clamped or towed. But as luck would have it, or through my highly attuned investigatory powers, I do some digging and find that the owner works at a fashion retail outlet further down the same street. Gotcha!

So I pay him a visit, courteously waiting until the lone shopper leaves the store before delivering the good news and demanding that he surrender the keys to me.

Poor guy just about breaks down in tears. He purchased the vehicle in good faith through an online auction site, flew to the top of the country, paid around $40,000 in cash to the seller and drove his new pride and joy back home. What he didn't do is pay $30-odd for an online check on the vehicle to see if there were any registered security interests against it.

He offered to pay whatever was owing but of course the finance company cannot disclose that information to him because of the Privacy Act. He is not the debtor, after all. He will have to pursue the seller through Civil court although there is a hint of fraud in the selling of property without disclosing that another party has a registered security interest.

Anyway, the keys are surrendered without fuss and he even gives me the swipecard to get into the secure underground parking lot where he has it. Funnily enough, it is less than 100m from my office so I managed to at least get a short turn behind the wheel before getting a tow truck to have it taken away.

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