Can a dealership demand that we return the car we chose and pick a different one?

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Can a dealership demand that we return the car we chose and pick a different one?

Down payment was accepted, all papers were signed, we have had the car for 2 weeks, first payment not due until next month. Payments and payment schedule, price, interest, everything was agreed at signing. Can we demand our down payment back?

Asked on November 23, 2011 under General Practice, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A contract is a contract; once a contract is agreed to and executed between two parties, one party may NOT unilaterally change the terms--or cancel the contract--at least not so long as the other party honors its obligations under the contract. There are a few limited exceptions, which mostly involve--

* Mutual mistake: The first party thought the agreement was for A; the second through it was for B; but somehow what was written up as a contract was C, so that the contract did not in fact reflect the parties' agreement or intentions

* Unilateral mistake coupled with fraud: party 1 deliberately "tricked" party 2 into signing up for something other than what party 2 thought it was getting (e.g. "bait and switch")

* Impossibility, owing to events beyond either party's control--for example, the manufacturer no longer makes or sells cars with the specifications you wanted, so that the dealer can't  fulfill the contract through no fault of its own

But apart from the above, if you have fufilled your obligations under the sales agreement, you should be able to hold the dealer to fulfiling its obligations--i.e. you don't have to select a different car and can keep the one you bought.

Alternately, you can certainly offer to return the car in exchange for cancelling the transaction and you getting all your money back; but the dealership should not be able to compel you to take a different car unless something odd, along the lines of what is mentioned above, occured.

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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