Southeast Toyota Finance — Due to covid-19, the death certificates took longer than usual
My father passed away on 7/21. He had leased a 2019 Toyota Camry in December of 2018 — his third or fourth over the years he lived in FL. His lease has several months left. Since his passing, SETF has taken up far too many hours of my time and added stress to an already difficult situation — particularly for my mother who lost her husband of almost 60 years and her caretaker.
The day after my father passed away, my son called SETF. He was told that due to the circumstances, the company would pick up the car and the account would be canceled — we just needed to email a copy of the death certificate. Due to Covid-19, the death certificates took longer than usual, but the second I received it, which was mid-morning on Wednesday, July 29, I called for the email address to send the death certificate. The person to whom I spoke initially transferred me to someone else when I asked about having the car picked up. I didn't get her name, but she informed me we did have to pay. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was transferred to Holly Counts.
I explained the urgency of the situation — that we were leaving Florida in less than 24 hours, and I had just received the death certificate. She told me to email it to her, and before hanging up, I asked her to call me back immediately upon receiving it so we could resolve the car issue, which I assumed would be in 10 minutes. I emailed her two more times that afternoon explaining that I needed to speak with her, and I never received a response.
I called the insurance company that evening, and they were shocked when I told them what happened — that no one responded and that SETF was saying we were responsible for paying off the lease, additional wear and tear on the automobile, and an early termination fee. I told them I was debating whether or not to drive my car back to NC or take the Toyota, but because we never heard back, we had no choice but to leave the car in Florida. We did not want to continue paying for the insurance or the car since no one would be driving it. The insurance agent recommended I cancel the insurance and mail back the license plate, which is what I did.
We left Florida early Thursday morning, July 30, and I finally received a call at 5:30 pm, but it was not from Holly — it was from someone who works for her, Alexis Johnson. She told me that we had to pay for the car — that there is no way out of the lease (even though both my son and I were informed otherwise) — and they would go after the estate to satisfy the remainder of the lease and the other costs. I explained how disgusted I was that Holly never responded to my emails or called me back, we have been given conflicting information, and I would have driven that car back to NC if I knew they were still going to charge us.
We were in South Carolina at that point, and Alexis informed me we had several options — purchase it, get someone to take over the lease, or she could tell us what the payoff would be based on the car's condition and the mileage, which required an assessment of the car. I explained that we no longer had any options because we had left Florida, and we were not going to pay a car payment and insurance for two more months, which is when my mom and I will return to FL to pack up the apartment and move out of state. She said she could come up with an amount based on my description of the car and its mileage. I told her it was in excellent condition and had 11, 500 miles on it. Alexis said she would call me back on Monday, August 3 with the payoff amount.
She called Monday around 1:00 pm. I was in FedEx sending documents to the attorney, and she said she couldn't talk to me because my mother wasn't there with me. I asked her to call me back in 10 minutes when I would be back in the car with my mother or give me her number so I could call her back. (Note that my mother has some minor cognitive issues, and she does not drive. She hasn't driven in at least 10 years.) Alexis informed me that she couldn't call me back, and she didn't have a direct extension, but anyone could give us the payoff amount when we called back.
I called back at 1:30. The woman I spoke with told me she couldn't give us any information. I explained the situation — that I had just gotten a call from Alexis who told me to call back and anyone could help us. I told her about my experience with Holly. She told me that they aren't allowed to conduct business via email. I asked why I was told to email the death certificate. She then tried to reach Holly, but she didn't answer. She called another supervisor who said they couldn't do anything because there was no death certificate on file. Another 30 minutes of my life wasted. I had another commitment and had to get off the phone. I said I would have to call them back, which I did at 3:30. Again I had to explain I emailed the death certificate to Holly, and Alexis had called me two hours earlier to give us the payoff amount. The woman calls Holly who tells her she never received the death certificate.
Really? Alexis, whom I had spoken to twice, never said the death certificate wasn't received. A little over two hours earlier she had called to tell us she said she had the payoff amount. If Holly never received my email with the death certificate, why did Alexis call? And knowing the situation, knowing that I told Holly I was emailing the death certificate the second we hung up, why didn't Holly call me back when she didn't receive it (if, indeed, she didn't receive it)? And why didn't Holly get on the phone and help resolve the situation instead of just telling this woman to tell me she never received the death certificate?
I asked this woman to have Alexis call me back. She assured me she would send Alexis an email and ask her to call me. More than 24 hours later, and I have not received a call from Alexis or anyone at SETF.
I have called SETF several times spending hours trying to resolve this situation. I have done everything asked of me. I will not call them again. SETF clearly doesn't care anything except getting every cent they can out of people — dead or alive. My father was supposedly a valued, repeat customer who leased several Toyotas through SETF while he was alive, but it is clear they don't care about our loss or about helping us during this difficult time.
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