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Friday, 30 December 2011

US: Spot delivery and dealer's obligations

If you want to sell a car badly enough, you might do some daft things - rather like a lawyer starting work for a client without money on account, a mistake that I have made often enough. In the car trade, spot delivery (otherwise known as "yo-yo sales") is the equivalent, and it's driven in part by the phenomenon known as "buyer's remorse". It's a good idea to get the customer in the car and off down the road before they think twice.

Of course, there are legal issues to consider here - cooling-off periods where finance is involved, in particular. But Automotive News has a disconcerting story about a Florida dealer who put a customer in a used car under a conditional sale agreement, sent her on her way, then found that the finance company wouldn't do the deal. In that situation everything is supposed to be off, the car comes back to the dealer and the customer might end up with a more affordable set of wheels - but here the customer kept the car, and tried to make monthly payments to the dealer of the same amount as would have been due to the finance company. When the payments were refused, the customer sued the dealer (they do things differently in the USA, evidently) with what seems to be a kitchen sink full of claims, and the dealer counterclaimed.

Happily, for the dealer and for common sense, the court held against the customer. But it's still a remarkably risky way of doing business, even if problems can eventually be ironed out by the courts.

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