When Car Dealers Make Mistakes, Who Should Pay?
I’m going to spill a secret here.
Once, when I went to the grocery store, I asked the checker for a book of stamps. I got the book of stamps. But the stamps were never rung up, and I never paid for them.
I did what any good American would do. I didn’t say a word and kept the secret until blabbing it to the world on a blog. I hope I won’t get arrested now, because apparently, if it were a car I had underpaid for, that’s a real possibility.
A Jalopnik story tells the tale of a man in Virginia who got arrested after buying a Chevy Traverse for 33 grand instead of the 39 grand the dealer determined the vehicle was worth. I won’t rehash the whole story here, but the guy ended up in jail for theft after the dealer called the police, only to bail himself out, find himself carless and walk 5 miles home. All charges were dropped upon review of the signed purchase agreement, but the man has countered with a $2.2 million lawsuit against the dealer.
In another recent case, this one in Australia, a dealer accidentally posted a 1994 BMW 320i for $1, which was purchased immediately. In that case, the dealer lost out on about $3,000. The dealer’s response?
I thought, ‘Whoops’, but it is what it is. You can only laugh about it. It was the cheapest car ever sold by the dealership and hopefully the only car we sell for $1. Obviously not an ideal outcome for us as the seller, however, we are firm believers in the auction process and for it to be fair to buyers and sellers alike.
How about that difference, huh? Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with dealers making a fair amount of money on car deals. They deserve it and should be profitable. However, when a mistake is made, I don’t believe they have the right to harass customers and beg for more money. Or have them arrested. Personally, I’d avoid the Virginia dealer but gladly give my business to the Australian one.
There is a double standard here. Had either of these customers found out they overpaid by thousands of dollars, you can bet they’d knock down the doors demanding a refund. This is the world we live in, though. When a business undercharges, or forgets to charge at all, they should eat the cost.
Should a car dealer be able to go after a customer for more money after making a deal?