When you go out and buy a new toaster today, you can return it tomorrow if you wake up and decide the toaster just wasn’t in your holiday budget. Aside from the hassle of locating the receipt and driving back to the store, you’ll get your money back quickly and easily.
Now let’s say you are in your 2001 truck and it doesn’t start right away when you want to go back to the store and return the toaster. When it does start, every rattle and clunky gear change as you drive makes you think you should get rid of the battle-worn old thing.
You stop at a dealer, just for information, but leave two hours later in a shiny new 2013 truck. You were taken by its smell inside, the new technology features and the incredible offer of a trade-in on your old rust-bucket.
You’re feeling great, go return your toaster, and drive home with the pride of a new vehicle.
Until morning. You wake up with a twist in your gut wondering what you did and how you’ll afford the monthly payments. You miss your old truck. You have a faint memory of hearing something about a 3-day return policy for cars, and you decide you’ll look into it.
But is it truly possible to return a new vehicle?
No. Well, maybe. But it’s not like returning a toaster.
Sometimes a dealer or automaker will run a promotion guaranteeing that buyers can return the car within a certain amount of time if they don’t like it. Sometimes they’ll say there is a 3-day return policy. But actually undoing the signed deal is rare, and legally the dealer has no obligation to allow the return.
I think that’s partly why the process of buying a new car is so time consuming. There’s plenty of time for second-guessing with so many papers to sign after going through the negotiation process and arriving at a mutually acceptable price.
Once the deal is done, the car and the financial obligations are legally yours. Unless you have some major grievance against the dealer, the car isn’t likely to be returned.
Then again, dealers do have the ability to unwind the deal and may be willing to help if you go in and calmly explain the situation.
The best way to avoid buyer’s remorse, of course, is to do the proper research and know exactly what you’re willing to spend, know how much the new car should cost and know how much you should get for a trade in.
Have you ever had buyer’s remorse after purchasing a new or used car?