ORLANDO, Fla. — Customers trying to buy Florida specialty plates online claim a company they used took their money but didn’t deliver the tags.
It’s a business Action 9 first exposed nearly two years ago.
Janice March found a Florida specialty tag online that read “Trees are Cool.” Buying the tag would support a charity she really believes in that promotes urban tree management.
“I went directly to a website called myfloridaspecialtyplate.com,” March explained.
March paid $78 plus fees with a credit card on the company’s website, but she was billed $178 for the tag.
She disputed the extra charge, but five months later, she had an even bigger problem.
“I still don’t have a license plate, and they’ve got my money,” March said.
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According to March, despite calls and emails, myfloridaspecialtyplate.com didn’t respond.
Action 9 first investigated the company nearly two years ago about the same issue. Matt Selah had paid the company for a tag supporting disabled Floridians that he never received.
“I never got a response from anybody,” Selah said.
Since Action 9 first aired that story, at least 150 customers contacted the Better Business Bureau claiming they paid for specialty tags they did not receive.
The company is rated F at the BBB with a total of more than 250 complaints over the past three years.
“The issue is consumers are not able to get refunds and they’re not receiving the plates,” said Bryan Oglesby. He is with the West Florida BBB that issued an alert about the company.
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“As of today, many of those complaints remain unanswered,” Oglesby said.
MyFloridaSpecialtyPlate is operated by Michael Towner. The U.S. Department of Justice charged Towner with scheming to defraud charities with another specialty tag company. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in that case.
Action 9′s Todd Ulrich attempted to reach Towner for his response at the company’s main contact number and through email. Both attempts failed.
At the myfloridaspecialtyplane.com website, there was a message alerting consumers that it was no longer processing orders.
After contacting the media, Selah and March, did receive full refunds.
March said that she had been denied for months. “People helping themselves to my money, that’s not fair,” she said.
You can avoid extra fees and delivery disputes by contacting a state tag office or a county tax collector’s office in person or online to buy specialty plates direct.
Towner told the BBB there had been delivery and refund delays he could not control but that he’s responding to all complaints and that no refunds will be denied.
Ulrich also contacted Towner’s attorney, but there has not been a response.
You can renew a specialty tag online at the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle website.
Consumers can also purchase new tags in person at the agency’s service centers or any county tax collector’s office.
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