What it’s like to get your car repossessed at Wal-Mart


Jennifer just got off work and picked up her kids from daycare. She’s out of food so she pulls into the local Wal-Mart in Grand Prairie. As she’s looking for a parking spot, she notices a blue Chevy Tahoe with a crazy bumper sticker that reads: “I’m only speeding because I really have to poop.”. The bumpersticker makes her laugh out loud. Jennifer decides to park in the spot right next to the Tahoe, which is near the end of the lot. Jennifer plans to run into the store and grab some food for dinner tonight. She grabs her kids and heads in to the Wal-Mart. Sixty minutes later, Jennifer barrels out of the Wal-mart with $150 worth of groceries and kids in tow. Jake, Jennifer’s son, is having a meltdown because he’s hungry. Jennifer begins to map out cooking dinner once she gets home. “It’s not that much longer now”, she tells Jake. She’s 10 minutes from home. She sees the blue Chevy Tahoe and walk towards it, as pulls up past the Tahoe, she doesn’t see her car but an empty parking spot. Jennifer is quite sure she parked her car next to the blue Chevy Tahoe. She checks the back of the Tahoe for the crazy bumpersticker. It’s there. “Yup, this is the Tahoe.”


Jennifer begins to retrace her steps. First thing Jennifer wonders is if someone stole her car. She remembers that her kids left the iPad they were playing with in the back of the car. Jennifer calls 911 to report her car stolen. The 911 operator asks her if she has called the finance company. “That’s a strange response from a 911 operator”, she thought. But that’s when it dawned on her: she was a month late on her car payments. She planned to get caught up when she got paid on Friday. Jennifer decides to call the finance company to see if the car has been repossessed. She calls Santander and they confirm that DJ’s Towing and Recovery just picked up her car. “Now what?”, she asks herself.


Jake is starting to cry because he is so hungry. Her daughter is getting impatient. And she’s got $150 worth of groceries in a shopping car with no car to put the groceries in. After the panic subsides, Jennifer wonders, “What the heck am I going to do?” Jennifer calls her boyfriend, but he doesn’t answer. She sends him a text, still nothing. Next, she calls her parents. Parents don’t answer either. Then, Jennifer calls her sister. Fortunately, Jennifer’s sister, Barbara, answers the call. Embarrassed, Jennifer explains to her sister Barbara what happened. Her car just got repossessed and she needs Barbara to come pick her up and take her home. Barbara, who lives in west Fort Worth, doesn’t raise a fuss and says, “I’m on my way.” Jennifer calls her boyfriend again. He still doesn’t answer and he hasn’t bothered to answer her first text either. Before Jennifer can get too upset about the lack of support, Jennifer decides to go back into the store to wait for Barbara. She figures at least her kids can go to the toy section while they wait, but the Wal-Mart staff won’t let her past customer service because she’s got a bunch of groceries.


Thirty five minutes later, Barbara, her sister, arrives. Jennifer’s never been so happy to see her in her life. They put the kids and the groceries in Barbara’s car and drive back to her home. In all the chaos, she hadn’t stopped to think about the obvious: What is she going to do to get to work tomorrow? How does she get her personal stuff out of the car? Jennifer calls Santander and asks them how much she has to pay to get her car payment. $2,094 they tell her. $672 for the late car payment, $672 for next month’s car payment, a $450 administrative fee, and a $300 towing fee. Oh, and DJ’s Towing impound lot charges $29 a day. She doesn’t have $2,094. She doesn’t get paid until Friday and even then it won’t be enough. Jennifer calls DJ Towing to see about getting her personal stuff out of the car. DJ’s Towing tells her that there is a $127 fee to get stuff out of her own car. How can they charge such an outrageous price for her own stuff? It doesn’t seem right.


Several days go by and Jennifer is beginning to get depressed. She doesn’t have her car back. She’s had to miss work. Her parents call and Jennifer is forced to tell them the story of what happened. They did give her one good piece of advice: they suggest she calls a bankruptcy attorney so the finance company doesn’t come after her for the shortfall of what she owes on the car. The next day Jennifer reluctantly calls a bankruptcy attorney and sets up an appointment for 5 PM. She doesn’t think anything will come of the meeting. She doesn’t even want to file bankruptcy. Much to her surprise, she learns that she can still get her car back. She finds out that under Texas law, she has up to 10 days before the car can be auctioned and this means that she’s got 10 days to either pay the $2,094 ransom or find another way to get the car back. Fortunately, she finds out that she get the car back through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. What’s even better is she learns that what she paid for the car would actually go down in the bankruptcy. Relieved, Jennifer calls her parents and tells them her plans. Jennifer begins to think that the long nightmare may be over.

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