Can a dealership change the price on you after its negotiatedand signed?

UPDATED: Sep 17, 2011

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Can a dealership change the price on you after its negotiatedand signed?

Had a car lease. Went in to purchase the car we have been leasing. The pay off price on the web site and the pay off price when we went in to the dealership was the same (11K). Spent hours at the dealership doing the deal and everything was signed. We still have our car. Now weeks later the dealership called has called and said that they made a mistake in the payoff price and it’s actually double. Do we have a case?

Asked on September 17, 2011 under General Practice, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

They probably do not have a case, if the pay-off price, as you indicate, was 1) on the website, 2) at the dealership, and 3) was consistently the same during/after the negotiations. In a case like that, where they offered the car at a certain price and you accepted the offer, they are bound by it--there was clear offer, acceptance, and consideration (the $11k) and thus a contract. Even if the dealer nows feels the price was too, low, that is their problem, not yours.

There are some cases where a price can "corrected" or changed after the fact, but that's typically where there was some clear mathematical or typographical error, but the base assumptions on which the price is set are correct and either party can see how/where the error occured. For example: say that a car costs $20k. You pay $5k down and finance the other $15k at a 1% APR. There is no disagreement about the base price, money down, amount financed, or interest rate; however, when the calculations are done, the dealership accidentally used $12k, not $15k, in calculating the payments over time. In a situation like that, where all the elements of the pricing are not in dispute but someone clearly simply miskeyed a number, the agreement could be reformed.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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