This late June day finds Fred Hammond cruising peaceably along a suburban four-lane county road. The car to his left has it’s left directional on indicating the intent of the woman at the wheel to turn left into an awaiting Marriot parking lot. Fred maintains his progress in the right lane only to have the, soon to be ticketed, directionally challenged driver to his left make a sharp right turn. I am pleased to report that Fred’s car with its plenitude of safety features functioned as intended when called upon. The good news, Fred fared far better than his car. As to the bad news, his car suffered fatal injuries. And this brings us to the point of our story.

Fred’s quest to purchase another set of wheels.

Carvana Confusion – Dude where’s My Car?

Carvana C70 Ad

Fred found himself priced out of a new car marketplace suffering from the turbulence of the post Covid era. This included limited supply, higher prices and high interest rates. In this environment he would be both unwilling and unable to replace his totaled 2021 Hyundai with a like model. At that point Fred turned his attention to finding a quality used car. He recalled, “My insurance picked up the cost of a rental car, about $30 a day. Starting from the day of the accident, June 16th, I figured that covered me until the beginning of July.”

For a number of reasons Fred directed his focus to Carvana. About Carvana Car and Driver had written, “Carvana is an online-only used-car retailer that performs almost all the functions a physical dealer would offer: buying and selling cars, accepting trade-ins, and financing purchases.” Fred says, “Based on the commercials, on the hype and everything else, I found Carvana interesting.” He does say that he had heard some disquieting things about their inability to deliver titles to people who purchased cars. However, it did not reach a point that discouraged him from exploring cars available on the Carvana site. As told to me by Fred, the following describes his Carvana experience.

Fred offered a number of reasons that made Carvana appealing to him. First and foremost it provided a broad selection of vehicles. Secondly, Fred found the Carvana 120-point inspection program very attractive. Being a veteran of the car business Fred understood that used cars most often required some repair of problems developed during their prior usage. Fred pretty much viewed the 120-point checklist as Carvana’s version of new car dealers’ Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) used car programs. Lastly, Carvana’s ability to provide financing offered a high level of convenience should he buy a car. Fred understood that getting financing when purchasing an older car especially 10-years or more could be very difficult. Armed with a down payment of $3000 thanks to the refund from his insurer after the totaling of his Hyundai, Fred explored the Carvana site. Success came quickly. His find was, to quote singer Robert Palmer, “Simply irresistible.”

Fred, as a long time Volvo fan had a sweet spot in his heart for their sturdy Swedish products. Upon opening the Carvana site, the stylish convertible jumped out at him like a loose $20 on a sidewalk. His find, a 2011 Volvo C70 convertible with retractable hardtop. It featured an uncommon and desirable Flamenco Red Metallic exterior with cranberry and black interior. Fred says, “In the Flamenco Red it is a visually striking car. The interior is not a pure red. It’s a red and black combination. It’s just a stunning looking car.” To boot, it featured factory late production 5-spoke wheels that Fred loved. The gleaming C70 listed for $15,590 and, Carvana offered financing. According to the Carvana site $2,750 down and $300 a month would have Fred cruising in a car he loved. The site said he could have it by the following Tuesday. Fred felt that this had real possibilities. He reached out to Carvana and expressed his interest. Carvana responded with a status report explaining that the car was not currently available. Its 120-point check-up had yet to be completed. However, he could put a deposit of $1000 down to hold it. Fred says, “That’s what I did. I really wanted that C70.”

Fred received a pre-order confirmation email indicating that he would be kept up-to-date with availability notices. Carvana also added, “We like your style.” Shortly thereafter Fred got an update that informed him that Carvana had upped the price of the C70 to $16,784, raised his down payment to $3000 and increased the monthly payment to $369.


Not happy, Fred felt no satisfaction would be achieved in trying to communicate with AI bots responding to a complaint. Seeking a more direct channel for redress, he scoured through the Carvana website to find a headquarters phone number in hopes of connecting with a sentient being. Success, he connected with a Customer Service Representative and learned that the elevated monthly payment included a maintenance program and a warranty. After much haggling to remove the unapproved programs the final monthly payment came to $308 though the down payment remained at $3000. Fred says, “The original quote, was essentially useless. It was just a come on. For me that was strike number one against Carvana.” Still Fred  decided to go through with it. He loved the car. With the details confirmed Carvana assured Fred he would be contacted upon completion of the 120-point inspection. Further adding to Fred’s frustration, despite his numerous requests, he had been afforded no opportunity to personally inspect the car.

Now, however, he received notification that the C70 had been transported to a nearby location in Midland Park, NJ and would be ready for delivery Thursday July 29th.

At this point Fred signed all the papers only to, now, find to his consternation that the APR on his loan would be 17 ¾ percent. He said, “They never discuss the interest rate until after you sign the papers. Strike two for Carvana.” Fred let it go for the time being while proceeding to begin exploring personal loans to essentially get the car while dispensing with Carvana financing.

Suddenly Carvana alerted Fred to a postponement of the delivery date. A problem had surfaced requiring the Volvo to return to the shop. Delivery would now take place on August 3rd.

Having been approved by a local credit union for a personal loan with an APR of 8% and anticipating taking delivery of his much delayed C70 on August 3rd, Fred returned the rental car, the expense of which he had been carrying for almost a month. He had arranged for insurance. Excitement built as Fred’s girlfriend Nadine drove him to the delivery location. In the words of historic NASA mission control, “Preparing for lift off.” Mid journey, Fred’s phone rings. “Houston we have a problem” (To continue my NASA theme). A Carvana Maintenance Manager in Midland Park informed Fred that considerable problems existed with the C70’s retractable roof. He described a headliner that hung down and a roof that would not close properly. He assessed the whole mechanism as inoperable. Fred’s described his first thoughts saying, “How was this missed by the alleged rigorous 120-point pre-sale inspection?” Fred went on to say, “If you look at the pictures on the website, they show the car with the roof down and there’s nothing wrong with the headliner and there’s nothing wrong with the roof. It went down and went back up.”

Carvana re-rescheduled delivery for August 10th. Now on a first name basis with the people at the rental counter, Fred rented another car on his credit card at $30 a day. At this point  Carvana introduced a phrase that would serve as the Greek Chorus for the remainder of Fred’s Carvana experience. When Fred expressed his concern about the problems seemingly overlooked by the 120-point inspection, Carvana’s responded saying, “You can always cancel the deal.”

As August 10th fast approached. A new Carvana status notification informed Fred, “We still have problems. We’re waiting for the headliner.” Delivery re-rescheduled to August 19th. Cue the Greek Chorus. “You can always cancel the deal.”

Accompanying the arrival of August 19th came a call from Carvana. Parts were still on order. Cue the Greek Chorus. “You can always cancel the deal.” Fred says, “It is now August 19th. Still no car. We are talking 19 days since the car was originally supposed to arrive. At $30 a day for a rental car we are looking at $570 plus insurance for the car I don’t have.” At this point Fred, an ever patient man, had grown increasingly irritated. As well, the financial burden had started to weigh heavily.

Out of frustration Fred started exploring alternatives. Fred says, “That’s when I started looking elsewhere and happily found a 2005 Jaguar XK8 convertible with 65,000 miles in Pennsylvania. Very nice car, low mileage and actually priced $3,000 less.

Still with lingering hopes of rescuing the C70 from being lost Fred, the following week, reached out to see if Carvana had any updates. Carvana’s response, “No, we’re still waiting for parts, but we anticipate delivering the car on or about the 31st of August.” Fred says, “I had been on the hook with Carvana from mid-July to the 31st of August. I had committed to the deal and I had been paying insurance on a car I didn’t have. With all that I still continued to drive a thirty dollars a day rental with no commitment from Carvana as to when they could deliver the car. Cue the Greek Chorus, “You can always cancel the deal.” Strike three.

Finally getting off the phone after hearing Carvana unable to commit to a firm delivery date, Fred decided to take Carvana’s advice. He called up the dealer in Pennsylvania and put a thousand dollars down on the Jaguar. He then called Carvana back and cancelled the deal.

In assessing his Carvana experience Fred says, “After getting off the phone with them and they could still not give me a firm date for delivery, I lost all trust in them. Their inability to answer any questions, their lack of transparency, their inability to diagnose a problem or honor a commitment, it all eroded any sense of trust. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and they betrayed it at every step.

Sadly all of their actions supported their mantra, “You can always cancel the deal” and despite Fred’s best efforts he finally did.