Under what conditions must a seller refund a buyer their money if an item was sold “as is”?

We bought an engine that was in running condition at the time. We decided not to put it in our vehicle and listed it for sale on the internet. We sold it to a gentleman “as is”. We told him that the engine running when we brought it. He is now unhappy with the performance of the engine and wants to return it for a full refund. Am I obligated to refund his money because he’s not happy with his purchase? My argument with him is that I don’t know what he has done to the engine, so how do I know I’m getting it back in the same condition that I sold it to him. He has also threatened to come and “take back his money”.

Asked on March 29, 2011 under General Practice, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) There is no general right to a refund in this sort of transaction, so as a general matter, returns or refunds only have to be provided if the seller agreed to do so, except as set out in 3), below.

2) More specifically, with only a few exceptions, if someone buys something "as is," he or she is taking the risk that it will not work, is broken, etc.

3) The only time that a private seller in an as is transction typically would have to refund money is if a) the item sold was not the item advertised or agreed to be sold; or (b) the seller either misrepresented important information or withheld important information in such a fashion as to deceive the average reasonable buyer. Otherwise, if there was full disclosure of everything the seller knew, the buyer would not typicaly have the right to a refund.

If this person is threatening you, you can contact the police.

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