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Can I return a new car?
September 9, 2012 6:57 AM   Subscribe

We bought a new car last week. I want to return it...

The day after we bought the car we realized we could get a better deal. The dealer called yesterday because the paperwork has the wrong VIN number and need us back there to resign. Can we take this opportunity to either re-negotiate or just get off the deal? We trade in another car and gave them some money, but I check this morning and the trade in has not been pay off.
I think the contract is voidable.
What do you guys think?
posted by 3dd to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This is a question for a lawyer. The actual contract and your jurisdiction matter a lot here.

A. Lot.
posted by bilabial at 7:00 AM on September 9, 2012


Lawyer, yes.

But isn't being called in to re-sign due to a paperwork error a car dealer trick to try to make you pay more? I seem to remember at least a couple of AskMes about this.
posted by scruss at 7:28 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, that is a car dealer trick!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:49 AM on September 9, 2012


It is fairly common to include language in car contracts obligating you to fix slight errors in paperwork - ie, VIN errors as indicated. Requesting you to come back to the dealership is not always a scam to have you pay more, although it can be.

You should absolutely not think that the contract is voidable solely due to a small error. They may or may not be trying to materially change the contract (ie, increase the price). If they are attempting to materially change the contract, that makes it easier for you to void the contract, but they may simply accept the contract as-is if you try to void it. Hence, the desire for a lawyer if you want to void the contract. If they are simply trying to correct an error, it is very hard to have the contract voided. In other words, in both scenarios, you need a lawyer if you really are considering voiding the contract.

A few (very few) jurisdictions offer "cooling off periods" for large purchases like cars. Usually these are on the order of 72 hours.
posted by saeculorum at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The cooling off period (three day right of rescission) does not apply to cars bought at dealerships. Assuming you are in Florida, here's a .pdf about that from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department. On page 6: "No Three-Day Right to Cancel. Many consumers mistakenly believe they have three days to cancel the purchase contract. There is no cooling off period under Florida law." (If you aren't in Florida, you probably don't have this for autos in your state, either, but the phrase to google is "cooling off period" auto YourState, and you can also see that autos are exempt from the federal law for the same, here.) Your problem also doesn't fall under the Lemon Law. I think you are stuck with the agreement you made. In a way, you are lucky they figured this out, because it's a trip to the DMV and a hassle if you discover this problem further down the road.
posted by Houstonian at 8:02 AM on September 9, 2012


Go back re: the VIN. When asked to re-sign, explain that you have realized they hosed you on the price. Ask for a better deal. Mention your blog, where you have posted images of the crappy deal paperwork, pictures of their dealership, links to the VIN scam, Consumerist, etc. Ask for a better deal. Get any paperwork assessed by a lawyer or paralegal. You may be able to get better financing at your own bank, or better, credit union.

You may be screwed; it may be an expensive lesson. Some car dealers are entirely lacking in ethics, but they often have lawyers.
posted by theora55 at 8:11 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Houstonian: The cooling off period (three day right of rescission) does not apply to cars bought at dealerships.

While this is true in the United States at the federal level, it does not necessarily prohibit individual jurisdictions from providing increased protections. For instance, California obligates used car dealerships to sell a two-day cancellation option. It is good to note this; I was merely being cautious in case there was added jurisdiction-specific information here (and I didn't want to check all 50 states to see if any state had a cooling off period).
posted by saeculorum at 8:26 AM on September 9, 2012


When asked to re-sign, explain that you have realized they hosed you on the price. Ask for a better deal. Mention your blog, where you have posted images of the crappy deal paperwork, pictures of their dealership, links to the VIN scam, Consumerist, etc.

I would add to this a statement like, "We had a really good experience here and we have couple of friends we'd like to be able send here but it's hard to justify if we know that we could have gotten a better deal elsewhere." It doesn't have to be completely true but it helps make it seem like there is something in it for them. There is also a customer service survey that you should be getting from the manufacturer that matters A LOT to the dealer (though some brands don't allow the dealer to tell you about it) so promising that you'll give them the highest scores you can on that might help too.

Read the contract yourself before consulting a lawyer but my guess is that you don't have a lot of leverage other than the dealer wanting to prevent a lot of hassle or a negative experience.

But isn't being called in to re-sign due to a paperwork error a car dealer trick to try to make you pay more? I seem to remember at least a couple of AskMes about this.

FWIW, I sold cars for a living for a couple of years and my father has been doing it for nearly as long as I can remember and I've never heard of any dealer actually doing this. Though I'm in Minnesota so maybe it happens in other parts of the country.
posted by VTX at 8:59 AM on September 9, 2012


I have been called back to the dealer and told that they screwed up and I actually need to pay *less* than originally signed, so I would think that there's a good chance it's a legit paperwork problem, not a scam.

That doesn't mean they'll let you return the car, though, and if the "better deal" you could get is only going to save you a few hundred dollars, then it's not going to be worth it to hire a lawyer. Unless you're talking several thousand dollars then I would just eat the loss and chalk it up as a lesson.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2012


Yes, the deal was exactly the same, payment a little bit less. No tricks or scams. I want to mention that the contract includes a clause that we will cooperate in fixing any mistakes. Also they mentioned to us that if we don't go to sign the new contract, they just deliver the car we signed for in our house.
Thanks everyone for your comments.
posted by 3dd at 10:52 AM on September 9, 2012


Huh? Did you drive the new car off the lot or are you waiting for it to be delivered? With the former you may have some negotiating power.
posted by Gungho at 2:23 PM on September 9, 2012


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