Tips on Buying Cars/deposit


Hello Roger,
I'm a from NY and went to visit my Mom in CA. While there I saw this MB SL500 1999- I drove & fell for it. I told the seller I would get back to him. So I researched the car & etc. The price was right - Well I happen to google the car model & another MB dealer came up -So checkout the Mercedes they had - & a 2003 looked very nice -So I email an inquiry. I recv'd a phone call fro a sales person. We talked ,then he put his manager on the phone very rude man. So rude I hung up. The salesperson call me back all very apologetically about his manage ( bad cop vs.good cop)- I should have realized this as a red flag but the salesperson was good.  He negotiated a price and he stated I need to put a deposit down so I gave my CC # Next I know we are emailing each other for the receipt of down payment - There were no terms or conditions stated on our deal except that I put down payment (deposit) on car. Next I recv'd is an email from another thanking me & wishing me good luck with the car. So things seem fine - the balance was to be paid in cash.
Well the next day I found I out I would not be getting the money I thought I was and I contacted the salesperson & explained that I had to cancel to deal. Can he refund my money? He got huffy & told be I had to call back on Monday since it was Sunday & the office person was not in to do the refund of deposit. So I called & that person was out of the office & to call back a little later. Well it was the person who took my deposit & wished me luck. So I email my request & was told I should go through her. She mailed later & stated that the refund was put thru. Guess what it was not so. The dealer had put my CC thru immediately -(and I thought they were to hold deposits) So now I have dispute with my CC company to help get the money back-  Is this legal? I never signed anything, did not take delivery of the car , and no actual terms of sale were presented. Just emails of deposit on the SL500 and the amount due.
Do I have any legal recourse?

Hi Loni,

A dealer cannot take a non refundable deposit on a car ... when we take deposits on vehicles it works just to hold the car until the buyer can come and finish the transaction. With more and more people shopping for cars on the net this issue is starting to come up more and more. You aren't obligated to buy it and the dealer can't claim that you 'bought' and 'option to buy' (like a real estate option) and if you don't follow through with the transaction you lose your money ...No No No No No. I also know that after a credit is put thru on someone's debit card it can take up to 2-3 days to post

Hope that helps ...the answer is of course "Yes" you have all sorts of legal recourse because you haven't bought anything yet until you sign papers and drive it off the lot. Give me those perfect scores on the survey and ask as many follow ups as you want  

Tips on Buying Cars

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Roger Alvey


I can answer any question about the car buying process. I am a recognized industry expert on all issues regarding auto finance, including sub prime and buy here pay here financing, I can answer questions about car lock out systems, GPS monitoring by your bank, and about auto recovery methods and defenses. I am a 20 yr car industry expert and can tell you what to look for in a used car, how to negotiate the deal, help with how to market your own car, and how to negotiate with the internet department of any car store. I can tell you every single way the dealer is set up to beat you and how to avoid those traps, I can discuss all aftermarket and extended service contract products you will be offered in the finance process, I have lectured extensively on "The Best Way to Buy a Car" to civic groups and university students. I am a credit expert and can tell you what the dealer and banks are looking for and the rate you can expect to pay. HERE IS THE LINK TO MY OTHER ALLEXPERTS CATEGORIES WHERE I HAVE ANSWERED LOTS OF QUESTIONS HERE IS A LINK TO MY BLOG


20 years industry experience in top management of dealerships and dealer groups. Recognized industry expert since 2004 in the Top 10 industry experts for The Gerson Lehrman Groups Auto Industry Council. I also do consulting work for Atheneum Partners, Expert 360, Expert Connect and Coleman Research. I have been a franchise owner and understand all facets of the auto industry from the time the car leaves the factory until it leaves the lot with it's new owner. I have written training materials for both the prime and the subprime sales and finance process.

NADA, OADA, NFIB, State Certified Used Car Appraiser

Special Finance Insider, Dealer, and Automotive News, Gerson Lehrman Group Auto Industry Council News (frequently)

Willamette University - Salem Oregon BA Economics Willamette University Graduate School of Business - Econometrics Statistics

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GM's Award of (their most prestigious award) Given to Dealers who surpass their annual benchmark planning volume while also maintaining Top Box (top 5%) CSI

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