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Columbia Car Classics ordered to repay customers

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | 5:25 p.m. CST; updated 11:18 p.m. CST, Tuesday, March 3, 2009

COLUMBIA – The owner of Columbia Car Classics has been ordered by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to provide car titles, warranties and money for trade-ins that were promised to customers but never received, according to a settlement released Tuesday.

The attorney general reached the settlement with the dealership after investigating 84 citizen complaints over the last year, said Travis Ford, a spokesman for Koster.

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The settlement states that Aaron Payne, the owner of the used car dealership, didn't give five of his customers titles for the cars they were purchasing – a violation of Missouri law. According to the settlement, he also did not purchase warranties for nine customers to whom he promised coverage.

Payne said he was satisfied with the judgment but said he would not discuss the specifics of the ruling. He was forced to close Columbia Car Classics in July and is currently unemployed, he said. 

"With all the publicity, it's hard to get a job in this town in the auto industry," Payne said.

He will have 30 days to give the attorney general's office the five car titles, and to prove he purchased the nine warranties. If he doesn't, the car sales become void, and he will have to reimburse his customers for the cost of the cars. Payne said providing the attorney general's office with proof of warranties and car titles will not be a problem.

Payne will also need to reimburse seven customers who were told they would have car loans paid off for trading in their cars but were never compensated. In addition, he will pay $4,624 for court costs and other damages. He will be fined $2,000 if he violates any terms of the settlement.

According to previous Missourian reports, on July 31, Columbia Car Classics was closed temporarily by court order on behalf of Manheim Automotive Financial Services Inc. and Kansas City Auto Auction Inc. The two companies sued Columbia Car Classics because they said Payne failed to make payments on a $700,000 loan that helped him buy more than 50 vehicles for the dealership.


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