Solve It 7: Tow Truck Ruckus

BILLERICA, MASS. (WHDH) - Nicole Bassett’s new ride is sleek, shiny and a radiant red!

“My last vehicle was white and everybody thought it was a ghost,” says the Billerica woman. “So I might as well get something that screamed, ‘Hi! I’m here!'”

Her new car has no trouble in that department. She got it last summer after getting into an accident in her old car.

“I needed a new car,” she says.

Nicole’s husband knew she really wanted an SUV and found the perfect one at a dealership in New Hampshire.

“Once I drove it, we weren’t leaving without signing the paperwork!” she says.

The Bassett’s traded in their 19 year-old Ford F-150 as part of the deal to get Nicole’s new SUV.

“It went perfect, Nicole says of the transaction. “No hiccups, no nothing.”

Nicole left the traded-in pickup truck at the dealership and drove off with her brand-new vehicle. No problems – at least not at the time. But 10 months later, Nicole got a letter from a towing company about her old truck.

“The towing company sent us a bill stating that it was towed [from] a Methuen residence June 9th,” she says.

That’s June 9th of 2020, nearly a year after Nicole traded it in. Shocked and confused, she called the towing company.

“She said that because it had no plates on it at the time of the towing, legally she had to check the VIN number,” Nicole says.

Nicole was being charged $145 for the tow plus $35 per day in storage fees! The woman at the towing company told Nicole to call the car dealership and they should be able to fix the problem.

“Turns out it wasn’t that easy,” she says.

Nicole went back and forth with the dealership for weeks trying to get the problem solved. She says they weren’t willing to help and the storage fees kept climbing. Nicole and her husband realized they needed help.

“I don’t know what to do and he says, ‘Email Solve It 7 and see what happens,'” Nicole says. “An hour later, you called!”

First, we reached out to the towing company. The owner understood Nicole’s situation and told us she would not be responsible for the charges. But how did the truck end up in Methuen without any plates?

The dealership provided us this receipt showing the F-150 had been sold at auction to a different dealership in Massachusetts. It was sold again, but the new owner never registered the truck and with no plates, it got towed.

We had the RMV look into this registration runaround. They emailed Nicole and confirmed that her plate was transfered to the new vehicle in August 2019. At that point, her ownership of the truck ceased and so did her responsibility for any charges.

“Huge relief,” says Nicole. “Huge. [I] feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders…thank you very much. I seriously could not have done it without you guys.”

The RMV says when you trade in or sell your car, it officially remains in your name until the new owner registers it in their name. If they don’t do that, it can mean trouble for you. Got a problem that’s driving you wild? Send an email to SolveIt7@WHDH.com or give us a call at 617-367-7777.

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