Car Donors: Re-title Your Ride, Or Face the Consequences

One Joliet couple was stuck with a $1900 tow bill that the recipient never paid

By Lisa Parker
|  Friday, Dec 11, 2009  |  Updated 6:53 AM CDT
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Car Donor Gets Stuck With Recipient's Unpaid Towing Bill

The deadline to get all the paperwork in was five o'clock on Monday

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Car Donor Gets Stuck With Recipient's Unpaid Towing Bill

A Joliet couple's donation turns into a $1900 nightmare.
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When it comes to car donation, it seems no good deed goes unpunished. Just ask Mike Simon of Joliet.

When Simon donated his 88 Oldsmobile Delta to the American Lung Association's Vehicle Donation Program, he didn't get to enjoy the virtuosity of his good deed. Instead, he and his wife were slapped with a $1900 towing and impounding bill.

"We were under the impression that when we contacted and signed over the title-- it's theirs, they're going to re-title," Simon said.

But that isn't how it works. The ultimate responsibility is on the donor to make sure the car is re-titled. In this case, Simon's car went straight to auction-- the charity got the proceeds, and the new buyer didn't re-title it.

And the new buyer was apparently into drugs.

More than a year after the Simons donated their car, Chicago police found illegal narcotics in it. The Delta was towed and impounded. The bill went right to the Simons' mailbox.

The Simons aren't alone in their problem.

Car donations often come back to bite do-gooders, according to the Better Business Bureau.

 "It's very disheartening because these consumers are trying to do the right thing and all of a sudden they get stuck with these bills and it could take years to untangle," Chicago BBB President Steve Bernas said.

The American Lung Association says this has never happened to one of its donors, and that the charity worked as efficiently and as possible to get the situation remedied.

The ALA also apologized to Simon.

To ensure the Simons' problem doesn't happen to you, use this form to notify the Secretary of State's office that you've relinquished your vehicle.

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