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When the Car Dealer Says, “We’ll Take It Back,” Read Carefully

Kevin Faulk June 10, 2016

Earlier this week, V**** left a message for me. She was concerned because the name-brand dealership she had just purchased a used car from had called her to say that she had to bring the car back. They told her that they could not get her financed, and so she had to return the car.

When I called her back, she was on her way to the dealership. As we talked through the situation, it sounded as if the dealership was within its rights to ask her to bring the car back. However, in that situation, V****, like all consumers has rights, too.

When the dealership tells you that they will take your car back, it can feel like a big success, you’ve finally gotten away from this nightmare used car. However, many times, “We’ll take it back,” is code for, “We’ll find another way to rip you off.”

As V**** was driving, I coached her on what to say at the dealership. The main point was this: They had to return her trade-in and her full downpayment, with no reductions. When she got to the dealership, that’s exactly what she told them.

They responded by saying that this was exactly what they intended to do. Her trade-in was parked right outside, they were getting ready to cut her a check, and she just needed to sign a couple of documents first. Thankfully, V**** read them carefully and called me before signing. Here is what they wanted her to sign:

“Cash downpayment was not returned to purchaser.”

The dealership said that they were cutting the check, but they knew that once V**** signed the paper, they didn’t have to give her a thing. V**** didn’t sign, confronted them with their lies, and drove away from there with her money and her trade-in.

What Can You Do to Avoid Being Ripped Off by A Vehicle Return?

1. Watch for The Common Scams.

Read all the paperwork closely. The sale should either be rescinded or cancelled. Many times, however, the dealership will list the vehicle return as a voluntary repossession or a trade-in, giving them the right to assess fees and potentially destroy your credit.

2. Don’t Believe Anything that Isn’t in Writing.

Any promise they make, even one as simple as, “I’m going to the other room to get your check,” can’t be trusted. Get it in writing. If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.

3. Check Your Credit.

Wait four to six weeks after a vehicle return, and then pull your credit report. There should be some hard credit checks from the date of sale, but after that, there should be nothing detrimental to your credit from the transaction. Lookout for the dealership running your credit too much, or listing the return as a voluntary repossession.