I live in Georgia. I recently signed a purchase order with a car dealership to purchase a new vehicle. They accepted/ran my credit card for a deposit on the vehicle. After notifiying me that the vehicle was available for pickup, they called to say the figures on the purchase order were incorrect and, if I wanted the vehicle the price would be $1500.00 more than was stated on the purchase order. I told them, if there was an error, it was between them and their sales/finance agents who prepared the purchase order; the response I recieved was, they had fired these individuals because it was not the first time this had occurred. Is this a legal practice--can the purchase price of the vehicle be changed now?
State/Country relating to question: Georgia
This is new to me--just talking to the dealership.
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If it was a "typographical" error, in that you both agreed on a price that is $1,500 more than what the written contract says, that would be a "mutual mistake", and one that could void the contract. They can argue that in court, should you take them to court. But if you actually agreed to a price that was $1,500 under what they're asking, and they are just now saying that they made a mistake (a "unilateral" mistake) the fact is that unilateral error is not sufficient to void a contract.
Now another matter is whether the terms of the contract give them an "out". That is, if the terms say that the contract is not final until delivery of the vehicle, or that they can modify the terms of the agreement until vehicle is delivered, etc... that's something that you would want to be aware of.
The first thing that I would do is to threaten a lawsuit against them. Let them know that if you actually agreed to the lower price, and they're just now saying that it's actually a higher price, but you had no notice that this was a possibility, etc... then it's a unilateral mistake and you can hold them to the terms of the original agreement. That being said, you need to contact an attorney in your area that deals with breach of contract cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next.
Of course, contact an attorney if they're not willing to budge.
You can also threaten taking this to the state attorney general, consumer protection division.
The threat of criminal prosecution for fraudulent dealings as well as civil liability might make them "eat" the mistake that they made.
But again, this is only if the purchase price that you agreed on with them and the purchase order price was the same thing. You can't take advantage of them having a purchase price order for a lower amount, and claim the benefit of that transaction. That would be a "mutual mistake". But a "unilateral mistake", one that only one side makes knowingly, can be held against them, so if the negotiated price was the same as the purchase order price, and they're only now raising the price to one that you never agreed upon, then that's their problem.
Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, and again, good luck to you!
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The listed sale price on the vehicle was $23,213; I asked them to come down to $23,092. After some back and forth haggling, they agreed. The vehicle was not on the lot so, they had to order the vehicle. Two days later when I returned to sign the documents, I saw the sales price had been discounted $1534.00. I asked if the figures were correct and the salesperson said "yes". I then signed the purchase order and he took my credit card and ran it. I have a "We Owe" statement from the dealership that states "I owe remainder of payment". When the vehicle arrived on the lot, the salesman called to tell me it was ready for pickup, we arranged a pickup date. The next morning, another saleperson called to again confirm the pickup. About four hours later, the second saleperson called to tell me the purchase order was incorrect and that if I didn't agree to go back to the original agreed price of $23,092 they would cancel the sale. Can they do this??
Unfortunately, yes. Like I said before, that was the agreed upon price, and the clerical error here was known or should have been known by both parties. Like I said before, you can't take advantage of an error like this (because it would be a mutual mistake). Only if they had made a mistake and there was no way for you to know that they made the mistake before you signed it, would that be a "unilateral mistake". You both agreed on $23,092. Even in light of asking are "the figures correct" and getting a "yes", that's still not negotiating and a "mutual assent of agreement" (a contractual term). Only if both parties had knowingly agreed on the price that was 1500 less would that be binding. Otherwise, it would be a clerical error on their part, that would not change the previously agreed upon terms.
I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but that's the law. Only if you could successfully argue that you renegotiated the terms of the contract before you signed it, would you be able to hold them to the new price. But asking if the figures are correct would not be seen as a renegotiation of the terms, I am sorry to say. I hope that clears things up anyway. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, and again, good luck to you!
Right, not what I wanted to hear but, I'll have to accept it.
Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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