ORLANDO, Fla. - A used car dealership chain that abruptly closed shop this week is working to pay back customers who put a deposit down for a car.
According to court documents, Off Lease Only hopes to refund about $350,000 in customer deposits. A deposit, in this case, is when a customer pays to have the dealership hold a specific car for them to purchase.
Without any notice, the company announced Wednesday it was closing for good to the surprise of its employees and customers. Several workers told FOX 35 they learned they had lost their jobs during a company-wide meeting and were told to go home.
The company had five locations in Florida, including the one in Orlando off of McCoy Road and Narcoossee Road near Orlando International Airport.
FOX 35 has since learned more than 100 workers were laid off from that Orlando site. There were a total of 466 employees laid off across the state.
The company blames high used car prices because of the pandemic, inflation, and increasing interest rates for its demise.
As part of its bankruptcy case, the company is asking a judge for permission to refund deposits it received before its closure.
Carlos Lopez, a prospective buyer from Tampa, put down a $500 deposit for a car days before the closure and worries he won't get his money back.
"If they knew they were going to go out of business … they should have known this way beforehand they took the deposit. They should have stopped taking deposits," he said. "I kind of find it a little bit of a fraudulent-type deal to accept money knowing you're closing your doors."
The company is also seeking permission to spend nearly $2 million on things like lien payoffs and title and registration fees for car purchases made before Thursday's bankruptcy filing.
A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 11.