What are my rights if I need to prove a cash transaction without a receipt?

I recently purchased a new vehicle and paid $3,500 down in cash. It has now been 2 weeks and the car lot called me saying they never received the money. They said I should have received a handwritten receipt for the cash down; the only receipts they gave me was a retail installment contract and security agreement and a motor vehicle contract of sale. These papers state $3,500, down and a $3500 credit. I have no proof or receipt to go to the bank or track because I paid in cash one hundred dollar bills. Do I have any leg to stand on or am I totally screwed?

Asked on September 1, 2011 under General Practice, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You may be, to use your language, "totally screwed," unfortunately. That's not to say that you can't take legal action if necessary--e.g. sue the dealer for the $3,500--and rely on your own testimony, but the problem is that with only your own testimony to rely on, you have an uphill fight. The dealer will likely have more people (e.g. finance manager, sales rep, bookkeeper, etc.) to testify that you did not give them the money; also, the mere fact that you cannot produce a receipt will act against you, since the dealership will likely testify that they always give out receipts (so if you don't have one, you didn't pay) and also it is most people's (which includes the judge and jury's) common sense observation that if someone is paying $3,500, he or she would probably either do so by cash or credit card (so the payment can be proven) or else make sure he or she gets a receipt. So you may legally try to take action, but it it unlikely, from what you write, that you can prove that you paid.

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