The Missouri attorney general said Wednesday that he stands by his statements on Monday that a purchaser should receive a car title before he leaves the seller's lot. Some major car dealers say that's often not possible if a purchaser wants to take delivery of a vehicle immediately.
It was a Contact KY3 investigation that led to the state suing four used car dealerships in the Springfield area on Monday for not delivering vehicle titles to purchasers.
"We want consumers to know that, for them to have ownership, when they leave that lot, that title is critical for them," said Attorney General Chris Koster.
Koster says, by law, customers should get their titles at the time of purchase. It's a statement that sparked outrage by some large car dealers, even though they're not not mentioned in the lawsuits.
"Well, it's not exactly right," said Connie Givens with Thompson Sales.
Larger dealers like Thompson Sales stand by another state law that allows a contract between the buyer and seller to serve as a temporary substitution for a title.
"We keep in touch with our customers. We let them know. We have a title clerk that lets them knows what's going on," Givens said.
"Those situations are different from the situation we brought these lawsuits under," Koster said in an interview in Joplin, where he held a news conference on another subject.
Koster says the big name companies are not the focus of the lawsuits. His office is going after used car dealers who closed up shop and kept their customers waiting months for titles.
"The title was never getting to the purchaser of that vehicle. While a large dealership may have a narrow class of cases where a title may transfer late, this is a different set of circumstances because the title was never coming in these cases," Koster said.
Consumers having title troubles are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division to file a complaint.