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  1. #1
    wayfarer is offline Junior Member
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    Mar 2005
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    Is deposit on a new car refundable by law or not?

    This is in PA (I live in NJ). Hoping someone educated about the law can help me determine if I have any grounds to pursue legal remedies or anything else.

    I put down a $500 deposit by credit card over the phone with a car dealership on a new car. We verbally agreed on the price and specs of the car. At the time, I was told the deposit was fully refundable. Dealer had to get the car from a different dealership. Dealer got the car a few days later, at which point I asked to have them fax me a copy of the buyer's order (stupid me, I should have asked for a copy of the order before even giving a deposit). I received it and noticed that the dollar figures were higher than what we had agreed to over the phone. Specifically, an extra $300+ was tacked on because the vehicle came with floor mats, when we had originally agreed that the car would not come with floor mats.

    I asked to cancel the deal and receive a refund of the deposit, at which point they said the deposit was non-refundable. Dealer now says that since I had given them the go-ahead to get the car from elsewhere (thus incurring some expense), the deposit was non-refundable, and that deposits are only refundable if there was something wrong/damaged with the car. Dealer says that it is the same car (just with floor mats), whereas I was trying to argue that this was not the car I asked for. Dealer offered to not charge me for the mats, but I refused, because I no longer felt comfortable doing business with them after having my buyer's order messed up (not to the exact specifications agreed to), and also finding out that they are not willing to refund the deposit (when they originally told me that the deposit was completely refundable). Dealer says that credit card company would not back me if I contested the charges. I called the credit card company and they said the chargeback wouldn't succeed if the dealer claims the deposit is non-refundable.

    Do I have any legal basis to get the deposit back? What does the law say with regards to these types of deposits, if anything? I can grant that the buyer's order was messed up by a mistake or miscommunication, but it seems to me that they deceived me about the refundability of the deposit. Not sure if it matters, but no paperwork was ever signed by me since I was doing this all by phone and was planning to sign everything at the same time as picking up the car.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. #2
    seniorjudge Guest
    Q: Do I have any legal basis to get the deposit back?

    A: No, because you do not have something in writing saying that you could get it back if you changed your mind. You paid the car dealer to keep that car off the market, which he did, and you changed your mind even though he had the car you ordered:

    Dealer says that it is the same car (just with floor mats), whereas I was trying to argue that this was not the car I asked for. Dealer offered to not charge me for the mats, but I refused, because I no longer felt comfortable doing business with them after having my buyer's order messed up (not to the exact specifications agreed to), and also finding out that they are not willing to refund the deposit (when they originally told me that the deposit was completely refundable).
  3. #3
    matti422 is offline Member
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    Mar 2005
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    Have you tried to settle this through your credit card company? If the deposit is on a credit card, you may have more leverage there than you have legally.

    As it looks from a contracts perspective, you promised to pay for a car the dealer promised to deliver. The dealer had the car you wanted (plus floor mats he was willing to not charge for), but you didn't honor your promise to buy it. I don't think a court would find that the floor mats were so material as to say the car was different.
  4. #4
    wayfarer is offline Junior Member
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    Mar 2005
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    2
    Thanks for the responses. I will probably submit a billing dispute, but as I stated before, when I spoke to the credit card company it didn't sound too encouraging as far as getting the money back.

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