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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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Purchased vehicle and drove it off lot only to discover

Customer Question

Purchased vehicle and drove it off lot only to discover damage indicating it may have been in an accident. In the interim, although I signed purchase order, my bank had not FEDEXed check. I called to inform auto broker and off course I heard "as is" and other jargon stating I am legally bound to fulfill finance obligation regardless of vehicle shape. I did not notice this damage prior to purchase nor was it disclosed. We are talking less than one hour from leaving auto broker I called and reported damage. It lad salesperson that I wanted to return vehicle and and cancel transaction...he stated no. I then proceeded to inform him that I will stop payment on the check for purchase if necessary, which halts the purchase of the vehicle I traded. I emailed bank to start the procedure, in which I am a long time customer. How. Can I get this resolved......the car has damage, I don't want to put that amount of money to fix and I need a viable resolution .
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sorry to learn of this situation. If you can show that the dealership actively concealed the damage to the vehicle (either by obscuring the damage, or by hiding the pertinent records from you, or by manipulating data that they provided to you), then you can claim that they committed "fraud in the inducement" and the contract becomes "voidable" (meaning that as the injured party you can void or enforce the contract at your option).

However, if the damage was visible to the unaided eye (it could have been identified by a buyer at the dealership, and the dealer made no affirmative misrepresentations regarding the condition of the vehicle, this makes it very difficult to challenge the transaction (the problem is that they didn't misrepresent or defraud you, but rather the claim is that they should have disclosed something that was visible on the vehicle).

You can try mediation in these cases - use a third party neutral to try to help mitigate your damages here (get the dealership to cover at least some of the cost of repair), or use the BBB to do so (the BBB is free to you as a consumer, but they are not always as helpful or quick to respond as a local mediator). If you decide to try a mediator, contact your local bar association and ask for referrals - you can use either an attorney, a retired judge, or a professional (non-lawyer) mediator for this type of consumer transaction.

If you believe the dealership is engaged in fraudulent business practices you can also report them to the Illinois Attorney General's Office - they can investigate the matter and take administrative or criminal action against a business, but they will not unwind your transaction or get your money back (you must either negotiate a resolution or sue the dealership for fraud and breach of contract).

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