USAA's Mishandling of Chargeback Dispute DESTROYS Family Thanksgiving Trip

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Prolific Contributor
've written extensively about how USAA mishandled our chargeback dispute, provided a TON of documentation supporting why it should be reversed, and this morning found our checking account WIPED OUT (reversing the temporary credit).

No gas money to make the trip to Virginia, no funds to stay in a hotel, no money to buy food along the way.

USAA employees who read this should be ashamed they work for a company who doesn't care about their customers. Not so much for our personal situation, but rather how the chargeback was handled. I received a product significantly not as described (agreed to buy an engine for fair market value, not a stolen one with the VIN removed), paid to have it installed correctly (it wasn't, I provided proof of this), I offered to return the stolen engine to the mechanic (he declined).

I've written are at least five posts, no one called me to say, "file a police report and we'll credit the account," or any suggestion on what needed to be done. In fact, they didn't ask for additional documentation, I provided it out of concern the case wouldn't be handled properly.

My 80+ year-old in-laws will not be seeing their grandchildren this Thanksgiving.

Thanks USAA. I asked for help on this multiple times - on the phone and via this forum - and your response is to give me and my family the middle finger.

We're done with you. You lost yet another customer to horrible service.

8 REPLIES

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@DontWalk.Run! Thank you for reaching out about this issue. I am forwarding your concerns to a Bank specialist. ~Tom

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I requested a copy of documents submitted by the merchant to USAA in this dispute. As expected, Ozzi's Automotive supplied a copy of a signed simple receipt (no description of goods/services provided).

However, Ozzi's also provided a DETAILED INVOICE OF PARTS AND ALLEGED SERVICES *WITHOUT* MY SIGNATURE! I didn't sign it because of uncertainty whether goods and services were provided as promised. The owner wouldn't release the car to me without at least signing the receipt (basically coerced into signing so could get my car back).

The key REASON FOR THE CHARGEBACK is the mechanic MISREPRESENTED GOODS SOLD to me, despite USAA's simple view the basis of the chargeback, as stated on correspondence, is the merchant charged more than the approved amount.

Tom, USAA's gross mishandling of the chargeback process (and its impact on Thanksgiving for our family) should warrant a much more urgent response than passing the buck to a Specialist. Look at the number of posts I've had to write and hours on the phone because USAA failed to conduct basic due diligence on this case!

Does no one at USAA see how, after reviewing everything I've submitted, this is a gross miscarriage of justice? What if I signed the receipt and walked to the car and it failed to start? Frankly, the two situations are no different from one another. USAA would still fail to do a chargeback?

I paid for a properly acquired Prius engine with 72k miles. Instead I received a STOLEN ENGINE with 183,000 miles and the VIN removed (the sale of engines without VIN is illegal, I've provided the relevant statutes).

Ozzi's Automotive provided NO INFORMATION refuting these legitimate reasons for a chargeback, while I've provided more than ample support for doing so.

Until recently we had a six-figure balance in our checking with USAA Banking and are insuring three cars with USAA along with renter's insurance (since fire destroyed our home) and several riders.

We've discussed this with our family and we're leaving USAA. You've lost at least two families with USAA relationships reaching back as far as over 50 years.
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@DontWalk.Run! After reading your posts and learning that your Thanksgiving trip has been impacted by a dispute not resolved in your favor, I can certainly understand why you are upset. Please understand that disputes are handled by a specialized team, and those representatives do not have access to this USAA Community forum. Therefore, we must forward your comments to the appropriate area for handling. I'm sorry that we let you down, and I hope that you will trust us to handle your financial needs in the future. ~DC

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DC, thank you for a more appropriate reply than what Tom left. There's been plenty of time for well-reasoned response - never received - even though the chargeback team does not read these messages,

DC, please help me understand this and/or advise me how to get this rectified.

If this were an online transaction and I ordered a Prius engine with 72k miles for $1,000, but instead received a Yugo engine with 183k miles for $1,000, AND the VIN was removed, tried to return it but company said "no refunds, " would "No error. Merchant charged correct amount" (reason cited to me by USAA) be an appropriate response?

Of course not. But that's what's happened here and no one at USAA is taking responsibility for it. Please help me understand why. Thank you.
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DC, thank you for a more appropriate reply than the canned response left by Tom.

I believe there's been plenty of time for well-reasoned response - never received - given the multitude of posts even though the chargeback team does not read these messages.

USAA's chargeback team, as well-documented throughout the USAA Community Forum, is seriously undermining members' (many now FORMER members) trust in USAA.

DC, please help me understand this decision and advise me how to get this rectified.

If this were an online transaction and I ordered a Prius engine with 72k miles for $1,000, but instead received a Yugo engine with 183k miles for $1,000, AND the VIN was removed, tried to return it but company said "no refunds, " would "No error. Merchant charged correct amount" (reason cited to me by USAA) be an appropriate response?

Of course not. But that's what's happened here and no one at USAA is taking responsibility for it. Please help me understand why and, again, how to get it rectified. Thank you.
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I was unaware the mechanic installed an engine with the vehicle identification number (VIN) removed, the additional services and work to get "the job done right" was incomplete, and DTC error codes/problems with my car increased from 3 to 13 when I signed the receipt at 1:05pm on July 26, 2019.

 

INDISPUTABLE FACT: It is against Geogia Law to sell an engine with the VIN altered or removed. TOzzi's  Automotive Signed Receipt.jpghere's no question the VIN was removed from the engine Mr. Minozzi sold me, a fact I was unaware of when I signed the receipt. The car was held hostage until I signed the receipt (so I did), but refused to sign the Parts & Service release. Apparently none of this matters to the Dispute Resolution group at USAA. The holds a careless indifference as to whether or not you received the product you paid for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also unaware the vehicle had *more* issues AFTER getting the car back than BEFORE I dropped it off.

Pre-Engine Replacement Error Codes - 3.jpg      Post Engine Replacement - Error Codes 13.jpg

Below is the detailed Parts and Services Invoice, which I refused to sign until confirmed completed. 

Ozzi's  Automotive Unsigned Parts & Services Invoice.jpg

BAIT & SWITCH with the engine and, as shown, services not provided. 

 

NO SIGNATURE. 

 

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Report Submitted to CFPB:

This case is about a transaction that occurred on July 26, 2019, for parts and services from an automobile repair shop. The company sold an engine significantly not as described (in fact, it was illegal to sell the engine) and failed to properly perform services paid for using a USAA debit card. I disputed the transaction with USAA, which "determined a billing error did not occur" as "the correct amount was charged.

 

On numerous occasions I called and provided information in support of my position to no avail. USAA is notorious for siding with merchants on its "Community forum" website and failing to defend its members. I explicitly pointed out this was not a Visa "Chargeback Reason Code 12.5: Processing Error" issue; instead, the applicable reasons were one or more of the following: 13.1  - Merchandise/Services Not Received, 13.3 - Not as Described or Defective Merchandise/Services, 13.5 - Misrepresentation.

 

USAA reversed the temporary credit of $2,523.90 bringing our account balance to less than $0.00. As you review my account of events, please keep in mind the *only* documentation provided by the mechanic is a single receipt signed by me on the date I picked up the vehicle. This is before what I now know about the goods and services purchased.

 

I shared, on multiple occasions, every detail in the "Account of Events" below. USAA claimed the case was closed and, based on their conclusion at the end of their "investigation," none of the information provided was read or considered.

 

ACCOUNT OF EVENTS:

On Monday, July 22, 2019, I paid for my car, a 2006 Toyota Prius, to be towed to Ozzi's Automotive due to issues with the engine. TechStream, sophisticated software used to diagnose car problems with Toyota manufactured vehicles, showed three error codes/issues with the vehicle when dropped off.

 

Prior to doing so, however, I spoke with the owner of the shop and we agreed it would take 12-15 hours labor to swap the current engine out for another one. This conversation was recorded and the relevant section of the transcript is as follows:

 

ME: Is it about 10 hours labor to take the engine out and put a new one back in? Or..

 

MINOZZI: You're looking probably like 15 or so, it's a pretty big deal, you know. You do other stuff while you have the engine out... [unintelligible] If you're gonna do something that big, you want to do it right...

 

ME: What's the rate on labor?  

 

MINOZZI: Labor is $95 an hour.

 

ME: So, $1,500?

 

MINOZZI: Yeah, you're probably $1,500 just in labor...

 

ME: Yeah...

 

MINOZZI: Plus engine, whatever that would cost...

 

ME: Right.

 

MINOZZI: You know, I'm thinking probably... You're probably looking at about two grand so you're at about $3,500.

 

Note: Georgia law permits recording of conversations without consent of all parties, provided at least one (1) person is aware of such recording is taking place (“single consent”).

 

FIRST ISSUE:

Mr. Minozzi, even after hearing the recording of our conversation, claims he never agreed to 15 hours labor. Instead, he misrepresented 25 hours as "exactly what was estimated." This is shown on the detailed invoice he supplied (Note: I declined to sign this document for him).

 

I believe he found the replacement engine at a lower cost than he expected and inflated the hours to get closer to the $3,500 range we discussed. This is inappropriate as he provided an estimate, as stated on the documentation, not a firm quote. Inflating hours, at a rate of $95/hr, is unjustified and goes against our agreement. Importantly, there was no written agreement subsequent to our oral contract. [$950 overcharge]

 

SECOND ISSUE:

On or about July 19, 2019, we had further discussions about the condition/mileage of a replacement engine in which I might have an interest. We agreed on an engine with roughly 72,000 miles on it at a cost around $1,300. I knew this was roughly the current market value of a Prius engine of this mileage based on fairly extensive research.

 

I learned after July 26, at 1:05 PM, the time at which I signed the receipt, Mr. Minozzi installed an engine with allegedly 83,000 miles (more than agreed), but more importantly, the engine VIN was scratched off. When I explained the seriousness of this issue he replied via email, " It is the company I purchased the engine from policy to remove the VIN number from the engine not mine."

 

According to O.G.C.A. § 40-2-21 regarding Removal or Falsification of Vehicle Identification, “A person who willfully and with intent to misrepresent the identity of a vehicle or engine, removes or falsifies an identification number of a vehicle with intent to convert or defraud is guilty of a felony.”

 

Mr. Minozzi, after repeated requests for the VIN of the totaled automobile from which the engine was removed, provided one with absolutely no history whatsoever. Not of the vehicle being sold, registered to anyone, ever passed a smog/emissions test, or in an accident. This only fueled my concerns he placed a stolen engine into my vehicle.

 

At this juncture the engine could have 72,000, 172,000 or 272,000 miles on it. Perhaps, my engine was NEVER replaced, he simply fixed it, scratched off the VIN and charged me for an engine. With the VIN scratched off he cannot prove he sold and installed an engine with 72,000 miles. The only thing we can prove is, based on his emailed confession, his violation of O.G.C.A. § 40-2-21 regarding Removal or Falsification of Vehicle Identification Number.

 

I believe at this juncture it's safe to conclude the requested chargeback should be honored on the grounds, at a minimum, the merchandise was not as described and/or misrepresentation on the part of Mr. Minozzi.

 

THIRD ISSUE:

Adding insult to injury, the installed engine is not working properly even after towing it to the shop once for repairs. The TechStream error codes increased from three when towed to the shop to 13 immediately after driving the vehicle home after the engine replacement. As mentioned, this is a very sophisticated diagnostic tool and I'm providing this information (along with screenshots of the analysis) rather than descriptions of how the engine stutters, accelerates more slowly, etc. as it is measurable and quantifiable.

 

I shared this information with USAA in the same level of detail simply requesting approval of the chargeback. USAA is, in my opinion, wrongfully abdicating its responsibility to properly monitor and act upon chargebacks in the hope customers (or soon to be former customers) left it go,Ozzi's  Automotive Unsigned Parts & Services Invoice.jpgOzzi's  Automotive Signed Receipt.jpgPartial Transcript of Call Re Labor Cost.jpgPre-Engine Replacement Error Codes - 3.jpgPost Engine Replacement - Error Codes 13.jpgLaws.jpgDiscussion RE Missing VIN.jpgHistory Report 1.jpgAlleged VIN History Report.jpgResults of USAA's Research.jpg

 

Though USAA is correct there was no error in the processing of the transaction (amount on receipt was the amount charged), this completely misses the point. I was sold a product completely not as described; worse, the transaction was illegal (engines w/o VINs cannot be sold as presumed to be stolen merchandise).

 

Bottom line: USAA is complicit in processing a fraudulent transaction and will be held accountable by regulators if not rectified.

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PLEASE FORWARD TO CHARGEBACK DISPUTE RESOLUTION GROUP:

 

1. On Aug. 26, 2019, the owner of Ozzi's Automotive sent the following email to me in response to my objections over an engine with the VIN removed being placed in my car with more miles than we agreed. First and foremost, this is a "bait and switch" gambit. I believe I'm purchasing a quality engine with 72,000 miles on it; after installation, I'm told it's 83,000 miles and the engine has no VIN (making it impossible to verify mileage on the vehcile or if it's my engine after all. 

 

     "John, The vin # of the vehicle your engine came from is JTDKB20U097738919, it had 83K miles [recorded

       conversation refutes this as yet another lie; recall he first lied about 15 hrs labor to replace the engine and

       changed it to 25 hrs] on it as you were told when you accepted the estimate to replace your engine on July 22

       [ I did not, however, agree to participate in theCC illegal purchase of an engine with the VIN removed] It is the company 

       I purchased the engine from policy to remove the VIN number from the engine not mine. I called friday

       and requested the vin and they left me a voicemail over the weekend."

 

2. A lot to unpack here: