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Coronavirus relief: CarHop suspends car shut-offs nationwide after call from Jesse

Tonia Delossantos is a behavioral tech who was laid off from her job when schools closed.

She’s out of cash and can’t make her car payment.

“They’re just on top of me about it.  Come up with the money, come up with the money!”

But her lender, CarHop Finance, wants its payment now.

“I don’t expect to be excused from my payments. You have to pay those,” says Delossantos.

“It’s not like I’m saying I don’t have to pay. I just need it postponed until I can,” says Delossantos.

CarHop has used car lots in 15 states, with seven locations in Washington. The company’s lending arm stopped repossessions ten days ago. But it can shut off customers’ vehicles if a customer doesn’t respond to their messages.

“I get scared taking my nephews home. My mom goes – what are you going to do when they shut it off on your way to dropping them off? Then I’m going to be stuck in the car with kids-halfway to Marysville,” says Delossantos.

Tonia says she called CarHop as soon as she was laid off, and is only behind by one payment. In an email to the company, Tonia asked: “So I take it my car is going to shut off?”

The company’s answer: if we don’t have a good faith payment to set up an arrangement, yes.

“They’re just not caring when it comes to people who are struggling. They don’t care,” says Delossantos.

So I called CarHop Headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I asked the company to postpone shutoffs not just for Tonia, but for all of their customers nationwide.

They agreed on the phone. And just today the company sent a statement confirming our conversation.

“Unfortunately, in this one case, one employee threatened to use a device in a way that was a violation of our policies even before COVID-19.  We have now paused all use of the devices until we can evaluate the effects of COVID-19 on our customers.”

And that’s a game changer.

Now Tonia and other customers can drive to help friends and family without the fear of being shut off during this stressful time.

I wanted to see what other major lenders are doing to help consumers. Many are offering to defer loan payments for up to 90 days. But you have to call and ask.

Here’s some of the other measures financial institutions are taking:

  • Sound Credit Union launched a Member Assistance Program that allows members to skip a pay without fees. Some members can also reset their rates and payments for a lower monthly fee. The company also allows non-members to refinance auto loans from other lenders, with a 2 percent cash-back option to give them immediate liquidity.
  • WSECU also offers skip-a-pay, is waiving all late fees, and is waiving fees for paying by phone. They’re also offering emergency loans and loan modifications. Some of their branches are still open for in-person help.
  • BECU offers short-term modifications on auto, and other types of loans.
  • Wells Fargo and Bank of America are suspending involuntary auto repossessions, and offering fee waivers and payment deferrals.
  • GM Financial is waiving late fees for clients with payments due between March 1 and April 30.
  • Toyota Financial Services and Lexus Financial Services are temporarily waiving late fees and may be eligible to take advantage of finance contract payment extensions or lease deferred payments.
  • Ford Credit is providing up to six months of payment relief for recent buyers of most 2019 and 2020 model year vehicles. The company asks customers with auto loans to contact their account manager as soon as possible.
  • Ally will offer payment deferrals for up to 120 days and waive late fees during that time.
  • JP Morgan Chase will waive late fees and extend due dates upon request. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services will also offer payment deferrals.
  • Key Bank will defer payments for up to 90 days upon request. That includes both principal and interest.

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