Consumer rights and car shopping

Consumer rights and car shopping

Shopping for a vehicle can be a nerve racking experience. Consumer rights are there to help, so learn and understand your state’s individual laws.

Photo Credit: Clay Blackburn
By Lisa Laprade

For most Americans, even the thought of going car shopping brings a feeling of dread into the pit of our stomachs. The haggling and bargaining is enough to drive anyone insane. A humble salute goes out to those who actually enjoy this process.

One of the worst situations to become involved in, when car shopping, is a sales associate trying to convince you to sign a sales agreement on a vehicle that you have absolutely no interest in. The steps taken to persuade you into an unwanted purchase can really dampen your spirits for future car shopping.

These steps can be drastic. One of the most famous and commonly used tricks into keeping you in the dealer’s showroom is to keep your keys and/or auto registration after the dealership has taken your car for a test drive. You can’t exactly drive away from an unpleasant situation if you don’t have your car keys. Most of the time, you don’t even realize that they have kept your keys because the sales representative is talking your ear off. The best way to get out of this situation is by not allowing yourself to get into it. By staying aware of your surroundings, and keeping track of who has your keys, you can easily spot trouble brewing on the horizon and steer clear from it.

If this situation happens to you, you need to immediately report it to the Better Business Bureau so they can look into the complaint and prevent further abuse of consumer rights.

Putting a deposit down on a vehicle secures your exclusive right to purchase it. When giving any money to a auto dealership, be sure that you get a receipt, as for all purchases. On this receipt, be sure that the auto dealer’s name, address and phone number are written on it, as well as the name of your sales associate, the amount of the deposit and the VIN -Vehicle Identification Number. This will prevent any switching of vehicles, which is against the law.

You have the right to request a refund of the deposit amount at any time before purchasing the vehicle.

But you need to remember that you do not have to sign anything, no matter what. If you do decide to sign, read all of the fine print. If you are signing a twenty-four hour hold for a vehicle, be sure that you are signing a twenty-four hour hold, not a thirty-six month lease agreement. It sound shady, but it has happened.

Even after you purchase a car, whether it is the model you were shopping for or not, you still have the right to bring it back and cancel the contract. This is called “Buyer’s Remorse”, which clearly states that you have a certain amount of days after making a large purchase to change your mind, for whatever the reason, and bring it back. The details of Buyer’s Remorse vary from state to state, but usually give you at least seven days and up to fourteen to benefit from this program.

Consumer rights are put into place to help you, but you have educate yourself on exactly what these rights entail. Contact your local and state offices to brush up on your local laws. Any violations of said laws should immediately be reported, as well as contacting the Better Business Bureau.

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