What to do about auto fraud at a dealership?

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2011

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What to do about auto fraud at a dealership?

My girlfriend purchased a new car last week. The problem is the final sale price of the car which is listed on the contract is almost $5000 more than initially agreed on. This does not include any dealer fees/taxes. She does have a dealer signed receipt for a $200 deposit that she placed on this car at the agreed on original much lower price. Also, the final contract lists this car as a 4-door when in fact it’s a 2-door hatchback. We are going to be heading over to the dealership later tonight to question this. Unfortunately she did sign the final contract without really looking at the change in car price. Are there any legal remedies that can be done if the dealership refuses to fix this? Can the mistake of listing the car as a 4-door invalidate the contract? Does the initial price and deposit slip invalidate the contract?

Asked on June 13, 2011 under General Practice, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, the mistake of listing 4 door vs. 2 door will not invalidate a contract as long as its still clear which car she was purchasing--in other words, simply typographic mistakes do not affect a contract's validity.

As to the pricing issue...there is no easy answer. The original receipt and the deposit placed at that amount is certainly favorable for  your girlfriend, since it is evidence there was an agreement--an offer and acceptance--to sell the car at the lower price. On the other hand, nothing stops the two parties to an agreement from voluntarily choosing to change the terms. If she got the exact same car as she'd put the deposit down on, she'd have good grounds to enforce the original agreement. If there were any changes in the car, though--new features, different color, different availabilty date, etc.--or in the financial terms (different interest rate, different amount down, etc.), then the dealership would have a good argument that it and your girlfriend had come to a new agreement. It therefore depends on the precise circumstances.

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