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This story will either seem complicated or simple. Someone once told me when you are dealing with complicated financial matters “follow the money”. So where do the winnings end up? If there are winners…..who are the losers? Where do the winnings come from (obviouisly the losers) but how do they lose? Here are the players at the table. | 1: Autocheck, Chicago, Illinois. This is part of Experian Information Solutions, California. | 2: Manheim Auto Auctions. This is a nationwide auction house headquartered in Atlanta. | 3: CarFax, headquartered in Centreville, Virginia. | 4: OffLeaseOnly.Com from Florida (but it could be any dealer) | 5: Me, the writer (but it could be any of you, Joe or Josephine Public). | If you go to the internet and seach “Autocheck Auction Announced Frame Damage” you will get tons of hits from Autocheck (Experian) and Auto Dealers touting their sample Autocheck reports showing “Frame or Structural Damage Record” (yes in bold and in red). Then a date, in my case: 01/23/2017 FL Auto Auction “AUCTION ANNOUNCED AS STRUCTURAL DAMAGE”. Again it is in capitals and in bold, I am not making unessasary points. All of these reports are errily similar if not identical regarding the “alleged” frame and structural damage. | You will also see on the internet that 120 Auto Dealers banded together to sue CarFax for $50,000,000 becuase they were forced to use CarFax reports and not competitors like Autocheck. Autocheck want to be the darling of the dealers while CarFax advertises and has positioned itself to be the darling of the consumer (the car buying public with the furry friend CarFox to look out for them). | In the end, Experian-Autocheck, CarFax, Manhiem Auto Auction and the Dealer…its all about the almighty buck! Its about making money, sometimes unfairly and at the expense of others. But I will let you decide that. But I beleive CarFax to be the least culable here (that is the most innocent). Here is my story. | I bought a used 2014 e350 Mercedes from OffLeaseOnly.Com in Florida in February 2017, it had a little over 18,000 miles on it. CarFax records show it had a minor fender-bender in Coral Gables, Florida when the car had only 350 miles on it. The Coral Gables Police Report showed the estimated damge at $2,500. No airbags deployed. No structural damage was noted. Both cars involved in the accident drove off under their own power and the other driver (that hit the Mercedes) was cited. | This was the only reported accident for the Mercedes. No car report shows otherwise. One (minor accident) in early 2014. So almost three years and 18,000 miles later I buy the car. OffLeaseOnly.Com “show me the CarFax report” (just like the add). It correctly showed the fender-bender accident and neither then (or a few months ago) did it mention Frame or Structural Damage. OffLeaseOnly.Com even had me sign off on the CarFax report. | I first discovered the (alleged) Frame & Structural Damage when two auto dealers (CarMax and Palmer Dodge in Roswell, GA) both discounted the cars trade in value by $6,000 and its retail value by $9,000 as a result of reported “Frame & Structural Damage”. So question 1 is anserwed – I am the loser and the money lost comes out of the value of the Mercedes I purchased. But that is an obvious and almost non-interesting point in this story. | I sued Experian-Autocheck in Fulton County Georgia (the case has been ordered to mediation). While not a lawyer I am representing myself and Experian has Jones Day a massive law firm. It is always interesting corporations spend more money on lawyers than they do on settlements. As if their lofty principals can dictate nothing else. If logic takes hold and there is a fifty-fifty compromise I will accept 50% of the lost value and the negative frame damage report can be displayed every 2nd month of the year. | What I have discovered (so far) is that only Manheim Auto Auction reports to Autocheck as a result of a deal Manheim struck with Experian. Why would either Manhiem or Experian enter into such a deal? Remember….follow the money. Experian pay Manheim for the reports…that CarFax do not get to see (so Manheim have a financial gain and reason to play). Experian-Autocheck then tout their superior reports with access to secret information that no one else has. This way they can eat into CarFax’s dominant position. And Autocheck sell these reports for a fee. So we can see why they want to play the game. | Apparently Manheim have a light system of Green, Yellow, Red during the aution process that notifies the dealer that the car they are bididng on has reported Frame or Structural Damage (Red Light). So the dealer buying the car will know that Autocheck will reort this, but that Carfax will not (and cannot becuase they do not have access to the information). So the Dealer does not disclose the damage report, and instead has you sign off on the CarFax report and all other types of boiler-plate “as is” stuff you barely read. However, there is one caviat here. When there is deliberate fraud….all bets are off regardless of what you signed! | Under UCC requirments, and other federal and state laws there are things like “superior knowledge.” While the boiler plate lingo you sign off on, gives the Dealer a kind of ‘get out of jail free card’ it can only protect the Dealer if it encompases information neither the Dealer nor you (the Buyer) knew at the time of the sale. What does this mean? A: If the Dealer knew there was reported frame damage at the time of the auction and did not disclose that to you, this is fraud. In fact all of the subsequent documents the Dealer had you sign becomes part of the ongoing fruad, is therefore illegal and cannot be used. Or B: If you had purchased an Autocheck report and where aware of the damage at the time of the sale, the Dealer is off the hook as you informed yourself. It is not just “Buyer Beware” when there is deliberate fraud. Is this the end of the story? No…..there are other twists and turns. | You recall this started out as a minor fender-bender on a Mercedes in 2014 with 350 miles on it? And after the only reported accident occured, 3 years and 18,000 miles later Manheim (allegedly) report Frame & Structural Damage. So the owner of a brand new, e350 Mercedes (as I was only the 2nd owner), with 350 miles on it…drove the car for three years and put 18,000 miles on it….when it had Frame & Structural Damage. Does this make any sense to you? It sure as heck didn’t make any sense to me either! There are two plausable scenarios. A: Manheim to cover their a*s mark ALL autos with an accident history as frame and structural damage. So no comebacks. B: The auto owner, in my case a Bank-Leasing Company has the Auction House make this same declaration to cover their a*s against non-disclosed or hidden damage. For whatever reason the Auction Company Manheim is making wholesale declarations of Frame & Structural Damage at auction when there may not be, and most likely there is not, Frame & Structural Damage. Which helps explains why all these reports look the same! Every single auto they get, that has damage gets flagged. | There is a possible third reason. But I merely speculate as I have no proof (this is why God made attorneys). Every report sent to Autocheck with Frame & Structural Damage garners Manheim a fee from Experian-Autocheck and allows Experian-Autocheck to waive yet another deficient report in CarFax’s face, thus improving their market position. That Experian place their brand name on this (fictional??) Autocheck Report creates veracity and weight. It must be true, its Experian. | So I am suing people over alleged Frame & Structural Damage, that is reported by Manheim Auto Auction I do not beleive actually exists, because Experian-Autocheck are reporting it, and this creates the perception of damage and thus the reality of it. So my car plummets in value. Only in America. | What next? If I fail against Experian-Autocheck (and that is a possibility) my next lawsuit will be against Manhiem Auto Auction and OffLeaseOnly.Com. Ironically OffLeaseOnly.Com had a duty to report the Frame & Structural Damage real or not. They choose not to disclose it and used the bait and switch tactic of CarFax -v- Autocheck or actually Carfax -v- Auto Auction disclosures. | What can you do? Report this type of business practice to the Better Business Bureau. Report it to the Federal Trade Commision – Consumer Affairs Department. Report it to your State Attorney General. Report it to your County Attorney General. These are elected officials, they work for you. | I hope you found this interesting and informative – until this mess is resolved don’t buy a used car that came via Manheim Auto Auction or if you do, make sure it has not been in a reported accident. | The end. |

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