It’s not yet a compliance mandate issued by a state or federal regulator, but EZWay Auto Sales doesn’t immediately release the payoff amount left on a contract when a customer chooses to trade and make a purchase at another store.

Instead of what’s typically been done, the buy-here, pay-here operation with four locations in western North Carolina implemented a process about a year ago where the customer has to give permission either with a text message or an email before EZWay Auto Sales releases a payoff amount to another dealership or finance company.

Tisa Jones Wood is the account manager for Unifour Financial Services, which serves as the related finance company for EZWay Auto Sales. During a break on Monday at the Compliance Academy orchestrated by the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers, Jones Wood explained the methodology behind this extra hurdle for another store to make a sale.

“When we came back from our first convention hearing about the (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), we were trying to be very careful in what we release to people who are not party to the contract,” Jones Wood said.

“We decided that if it was not an in-house dealership, then for all outside dealerships, outside banks, outside finance companies, we would make sure we had permission on file that it was OK to release that information,” she continued.

Jones Wood emphasized that store management made the decision not because of any trouble the operators encountered with either state or federal regulators.

“There was nothing like that at all. It’s the case where we were doing the right things so we don’t have any issues. We would rather be out in front of everything before it happens,” said Jones Wood, who also handles the collections for the operation that has lots in the North Carolina foothill cities of Hickory, Morganton, Lincolnton and Lenoir.

And what about F&I managers at franchised stores or other independent dealerships who are ready to close a deal but need the payoff amount to process paperwork?

“Other dealerships don’t like it,” Jones Wood said. “Everyone once in a while you’ll get that person who says, ‘I’ve never heard of this before. You’re the only dealership that’s made us do this.’

“All we ask is for customers to send us a text message or an email so we have something we can print out on paper that we had permission,” she went on to say.