Jacksonville retailer abruptly closes 3 locations, leaving customers wondering where to pay

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many customers of a car dealership that suddenly closed its doors are worried that their cars could be taken over through no fault of their own.

American Car Center is a Memphis-based company that first laid off more than 300 employees at its headquarters last Friday. It also closed the doors of its three Jacksonville locations on Atlantic Boulevard, Cassat Avenue and Blanding Boulevard.

The News4JAX I-TEAM learned American Car Center has 45 dealerships in 10 states and, according to multiple reports, closed its doors the day after pulling a deal that could have helped the company’s finances.

Customers who spoke to the I-TEAM said they had no warning that the company was closing and don’t know where to send their car payments.

Janet Steward leased a 2016 Ford Escape through the dealership and worries about the effect of not being able to pay her bill.

“When I tried to log into my account to enter the information, it was deleted. My account was deleted. The page was deleted. Everything was gone, Steward said.

Steward said all of American Car Center’s vehicles have tracking devices and kill switches, which have the ability to disable the vehicle when the bill is not paid.

“If you’re driving and let’s say you stopped somewhere, to the store. If you haven’t paid anything, they can turn off the starter where you can’t start the car at all, she said.

Steward said she received a text message Wednesday evening from Westlake Portfolio Management Group, which read in part:

“The best way to manage your car lease is through your MyAccount portal,” which requires her to provide her personal information.

Steward and other American Car Center customers News4JAX spoke with questioned the company’s legitimacy.

Tennessee officials said Westlake Financial Services buys the loans made through American Car Center’s subsidiary.

American Car Center has an updated website for customers to make payments, which includes a payment portal, a payment option and a place where you can pay by check.

Also, if you are one of the hundreds of clients who received a text message from Westlake Portfolio Management, you can contact them, but just give them your account number and have a representative give you your personal information.

CFO Noah Logan is said to have sent the following email to employees:

“We have worked incredibly hard over many months to avoid this outcome, but at this time we have no choice. At the close of business today, February 24, 2023, the employment of all employees of the Company will be terminated. On behalf of company, thank you for your efforts and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.”

American Car Center is also now facing a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of its employees who were not notified that they were out of a job.

Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

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