Let’s say you bought a used car from a dealership and later wanted to return it for a refund. Do you have the legal right to get your money back regardless of the reason? Does the “three-day cool-down period” apply?
That’s what Mac thought.
“I looked under the seats and found drug paraphernalia!”
Mac told me on a call recently, “I bought a used SUV two days ago and want to return it to the dealer for a refund, but when I told them why they made fun of me and they refused.”
When I asked him if there was anything mechanically wrong with the car, he replied, “No, it’s running fine, but what I found under the front seats is what scares me: dangerous drug paraphernalia.” His tone of voice grew increasingly loud as we spoke.
And what was he looking for under the front seats?
“For money or jewelry sometimes it ends up there, but instead I found vaping equipment! This is illegal! I don’t know what other illegal things are in the car, and I want my money back! Also, don’t I have three days to cancel the contract?”
I explained to Mac that while there was such a thing as a three-day cooling rule, in most cases – including this one – it didn’t apply to car purchases. And besides, in his state, mere possession of vaping devices is not illegal. Unless he has the right to return the car for a refund – stipulated in the contract of sale – the dealership can refuse his request.
Car buyers shouldn’t believe the three-day myth
“There is a legendary three-day return period on the cars,” Michigan attorney and author Lemon Law Steve Leto notes. He is also the host of the informative program”Lehto . law,” YouTube channel. “Although it does not exist, people still insist that they can return the car within three days for any reason. This right does not apply to motor vehicle transactions.”
The three-day refrigeration rule is designed to protect consumers from high-pressure sales methods more such as door-to-door sales, or sales from a temporary vendor location, such as a hotel room, fairground, restaurant, or conference center, according to Federal Trade Commission.
So, Mac is not so lucky here.
Lehto’s advice to anyone looking for a used car
I asked him to list the steps anyone looking for a used car should take to reduce the chances of ending up in a bad case of buyer’s remorse.
1. Research is the most important thing you can do before taking a driving test.
The price, based on your location, model, mileage and vehicle equipment can be searched online for free using the vehicle’s VIN. Just type VIN and sites like National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), VehicleHistory.com or iSeeCars.com/VIN It will tell you the year of the car, whether there are any open recalls and other data that should influence your decision to buy it.
2. Check the car yourself. Look for leaks!
Check the oil, radiator coolant level and color to make sure it is clean and not contaminated. If the seller allows you, take a look at the brake fluid and transmission, and check for leaks. Gasoline, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, engine coolant – None of that should be dripping from the car!
However, in a car with air conditioning, water will drip from the condenser and this is normal.
3. Spring for mechanic expert opinion.
If you are serious about buying a car, spend the money to have a mechanic inspect the car before you buy it. Most mechanics like to do inspections. They put the car on a winch, checked it out, drove it around the block, and told you if they found something. The money will be well spent.
Don’t put yourself in the position of buying a car and then a few days later find out that something is wrong and then Take it to a mechanic.
4. Take a comprehensive and practical driving test.
Don’t just drive it in the parking lot or around the building. Test drive the car as usual. Get it on the road, up to your local speed limit. Are you shaking? Is it making strange noises? Do you drive straight? If it doesn’t, this is one of the clearest signs of a real problem. Is it pulled to one side?
Tires can be. Alignment can be. It can be one curved body.
5. During your test drive, check everything.
The Radio, air conditioning, heat, and daylight spending. Never let them rush you! Never buy a used car at night, as you can easily miss out on body damage or scratches.
6. Don’t shop alone.
Don’t get carried away thinking the salesperson knows something about the car! She probably got to them two days ago. You should check it out on your own, or with the help of a knowledgeable friend or family member.
7. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH 3rd Party Extended Warranties.
Lots of tricks. If you want a guarantee, the ones that come from the manufacturer are generally better.
Concluding our conversation, Lehto warned, “Don’t fall in love with a pretty face! There are plenty of good used cars, and you’ll find another one.”
Blackmail threats have not paid off for our car buyers
So, what happened to our car buyer, Mac? He did not appreciate the answer I gave him, and got angry.
“Unless they give me my money back. I will abuse them online and picket in their showroom!” he shouted.
“Mac,” I said in a tone of voice that left no doubt as to my seriousness, “this is extortion, and when we end the call, I call the agent and warn them of your threats. So, word to the wise, forget those thoughts.”
He didn’t like that statement, at all. “How can you do that?” I cried. “This conversation is protected by attorney/client privilege!”
“Mac, we haven’t established an attorney/client relationship,” I replied calmly. “Merely contacting a lawyer and explaining your planned and unlawful behavior does not create a professional relationship, and the attorney may be asked to report the conversation to the appropriate people, including law enforcement.”
And that’s exactly what I did, giving the proxy a heads up. Fortunately, Mac followed my advice and backed away from his threats. He returned to the dealership, tail between his legs, to retrieve the SUV he tried to return, and his grandfather accompanied him to apologize for the behavior of his 25-year-old and 12-year-old grandson.
Case closed, lesson learned.
Attorney at Law, author of “You and the Law”
After attending Loyola University Law School, H. Dennis Beaver of the Kern County District Attorney’s Office in California, where he established the Consumer Fraud Division. Practicing common law and writing a column for a syndicate newspaperYou and the law. “Through his column, he offers readers who need direct advice his help free of charge.” I know it sounds cliched, but I’d love to be able to use my education and experience to help, just to help out. When a reader calls me, it’s a gift.”
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