What are my options if I went to a dealership to purchase a used vehicle and left a deposit but it was sold to someone else?

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What are my options if I went to a dealership to purchase a used vehicle and left a deposit but it was sold to someone else?

After filling out a credit check form, I put a $100 deposit on the vehicle and signed a buyers order/contract and the man said they could not sell it. The next day I went in to close the deal but the vehicle was sold. They said a man came in a day before me and they had an agreement to sell it to him. After asking to see if he filled out a buyer’s agreement like I did, they said they legally can’t show me anything but that they had an agreement.

Asked on September 10, 2015 under Business Law, Maine

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

gThe dealership breached an agreement--a contract--to sell you the vehicle in exchane for you putting down the deposit. You should, at a minimum, be able to get your depsot back, and if they don't provide it back voluntarily, you could sue them for it. In addition. if the vehicle was a particularlly good idea--e.g. you were getting it for less than you now have to pay to get a comparable same or very similar make, model, year vehicle, you could potentially sue them for the different in value between the lesser amount you should have paid and the higher amount you did pay. 
What you can't do is get the vehicle from the buyer, who presumably purchased it in good faith and paid fair value for it, unless you can show that he knew you had a prior or pre-existing deposit e.g. he did not come in the day before but rather after you and bought it in knowledge that he did not have a right to it. This can be difficult to show, and would require you to file a lawsuit first, to get access to information and documentaton, before even knowing if you have a valid case, and so is most likely not worthwhile.


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