Sometimes I get confused between CarMax and Carfax (and apparently I’m not the only one.) I know, Carfax is in the business of doing vehicle history reports (which you should check before buying a used car). CarMax is in the business of actually selling you that used car. And aside from their almost identical sounding names (which makes for a fun PopTort!), they also both have problems.
Carmax is selling used cars that are under safety recalls. At least they are in Massachusetts, where consumer groups just looked into it. But this is clearly a company pattern. (Connecticut, California, etc.) Writes the Boston Herald:
CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, is endangering lives in Massachusetts by selling recalled vehicles with potentially lethal safety defects, a report by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation claims.
On Oct. 28, the groups found that more than 17 percent of cars up for sale at the CarMax North Attleboro dealership were subject to a federal safety recall that had not been repaired, despite the fact that repairs for many of the defects were readily available — at no cost to CarMax.
“CarMax is playing recalled car roulette with the public’s safety,” said Rosemary Shahan, president of the CARS Foundation.
This finding comes just a couple months after AutoNation announced “it will no longer sell any new or used vehicles under recall that have not been repaired.”
"There's no way to expect that customers would or should know of every safety recall on every vehicle they might purchase, so we will ensure that our vehicles have all recalls completed," said Mike Jackson, CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based retailer. "We make it our responsibility as a retailer to identify those vehicles and remove them from the market until their safety issues have been addressed."
And it’s just literally days after Congress passed a highway bill that prohibits “rental car companies from keeping cars in operation that are subject to recalls until the necessary fixes are made.” (See more about Carmax here, including ABC's 20/20 report, “CarMax admits it sells unsafe, recalled cars to consumers.”)
Now to its used car companion, Carfax. This company has been brought into a story that probably isn’t helpful - at least from a business model perspective. It concerns ISIS. (See what I mean? Not helpful.) Here’s NPR’s report:
You might remember a story from about a year ago of a plumber from Texas whose used truck ended up in hands of Islamist militants in Syria.
A photo of the truck posted on Twitter showed the Ford F-250 being used by jihadis. Last week, the plumber filed a lawsuit against the dealer that bought his truck and he's seeking $1 million in damages.
In his lawsuit, Mark Oberholtzer, of Texas City, says that he began to scrape off the name of his company from the truck as he waited for paperwork. But a salesman at AutoNation Ford in Houston told him someone else would take care of it.
Records from Carfax show that the truck was sold at auction in November 2013. By December, it had been exported to Turkey and a year later, his truck was spotted on Twitter in Syria.
You may have seen Stephen Colbert’s hilarious report about this. "'That country is going down the toilet,' Colbert quipped. 'But for the first time they know who to call to unclog it.'"
Poor Mr. Oberholtzer. “His secretary quit, he says, and his business' reputation was damaged. He had a visit from the FBI and from the Department of Homeland Security.”
And to top it off, this is apparently nothing unusual. "Former U.N. ambassador Mark Wallace, of the non-profit Counter Extremism Project, has been trying to bring attention to the huge number of trucks — specifically Toyotas — the Islamic State has bought."
Luckily if they come from Carmax, they’re probably under a safety recall.