How can I get my money back from a car dealership if I did not buy a car?

UPDATED: Mar 20, 2014

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How can I get my money back from a car dealership if I did not buy a car?

I recently visited a dealership to buy a car. The dealer did not have the car I wanted, so I was offered to place a deposit and they would go to the auction and try to get the car I wanted. They also mentioned that if I purchased the car, that I would use the $500 toward the price of the car and if I didn’t purchase the car, that I would get my money back. Well, he went to the auction and purchased a car that was opposite of my requirements, so I did not purchase it. Mind you, my receipt says that “if car not purchased, refund is refundable.” After reading this, I now see that I was scammed from the wording of the receipt. To make a long story short, the dealership refuses to refund me. Is this legal? If not, how can I sue them?

Asked on March 20, 2014 under Business Law, Florida


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the dealership for fraud.  Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance upon which you justifiably relied to your detriment.

In other words, you would not have paid $500 had you known that the dealership would not refund your money if they purchased a car other than what you had selected.

Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for fraud) would be your out of pocket loss (the money you had paid).  You can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages should include the $500 you are trying to recover from the dealership plus court costs.  Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.

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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