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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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I bought a 2013 audi S6 in ca. i live in new mexico. i

Customer Question

i bought a 2013 audi S6 in ca. i live in new mexico. i requested to drive the car straight to nm to have it registered there. i found out the car was not currently registered in ca. in fact, it had over $750 in penalty dues and fees. i am not able to register the car in new mexico until the past due fees and penalties are paid.should the dealer be responsible for the selling me the car with up to date registration ? am i responsible for their negligence ? even if i am responsible, what is my recourse ? can i file a complaint. or, am i wrong about everything. am i expecting too much ?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 11 months ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sorry to learn of this situation.

The dealer was negligent in not collecting and/or making arrangements for the payment of these fees.

See Calif. Veh. Code 11713.4 (summarized here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/connect/bda8eff2-e4c9-4474-9101-5a0426196ad6/ch3_collection_payment_of_fees_penalties.pdf?MOD=AJPERES).

While you can be held responsible for fees and penalties that accrued prior to the purchase of your vehicle - the fact that the dealership did not disclose those fees to you as they are required under CA law means that they must correct this problem (pay on your behalf) - this is fraud in the inducement/negligence/breach of contract.

There is a series of escalating things you can do to deal with this situation.

  • *First: start with the company's customer service and dispute the claim. Keep your complaint in writing. If you speak to someone by phone, follow up promptly with a "confirmation letter" (see my note below).
  • *Second: (you can do this at the same time), if you paid by credit card (not debit card) you can open a dispute with your credit card carrier (follow the instructions with your credit card company). (Some banks do allow for charge disputes on your debit card - but not all, the laws are not the same and debit card purchases do not have the same protections, if you paid by debit card, contact your bank and see if they do have dispute resolution remedies).
  • *Third: open a dispute with the BBB. The BBB offers consumer dispute resolution that is fast, free to consumers, and is usually effective, they have no enforcement authority, but all BBB disputes result in a public report regarding resolution so businesses do respond to them. You can open a BBB dispute here: bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started
  • *Fourth: if you believe that the company is acting fraudulently (not just charging high rates), you can report them to the state Attorney General. The AG's office does not prosecute individual claims (so they will not get your money back for you), but they will investigate and potentially take administrative and/or criminal action against the company.
  • *Finally: you can file a small claims action against them for breach of contract. Small claims actions take approximately 3-8 months to go to trial. There is no guarantee of success in these disputes, but filing a small claims action does open an opportunity to negotiate a resolution (in addition to the above opportunities and can lead to mediation - many courts offer mediation programs for their small claims docket).

Confirmation letters: Keep written records of all communications - so if you speak to someone by phone, promptly send a follow up "confirmation letter" summarizing your conversation, who you spoke to, when, and any agreements you reached. Keep copies of your outgoing correspondence, as well as anything that you receive.

I wish you the best of luck with this dispute, and hopefully a speedy resolution.

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