Is dealership obligated?

Age seems to be a “thing” in the news these days. I though of this related car-related hypothetical question.

The 90+ year old potential buyer arrives at a dealership by taxi. After talking to the sales-staff, they concur the buyer appears to be somewhat confused, doesn’t understand which lot they are on, or doesn’t know the difference between Toyota and Honda. Still the buyer definitely wants to buy a particular sports-model car, new, and is paying by a verified cashier’s check. Should the dealership go ahead with the purchase? Or should they consult with the buyer’s family first?

How did this person know how much to have the cashiers check written out for if they haven’t been to the dealer before.

If this person is this easily confused, the family would have known it and put some restrictions on his finances that would limit what they could get from the bank or require a co-signer, or completely taken over his finances.

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George , are you making silly stuff up because you think it will help stop the declining traffic volume on Cartalk Community ?


Why do you think they’ve never been there? I presume they saw the price on the sticker and had a cashier’s check made out for what they believed to be a fair out-the-door price.

So this 90+ yo person has enough sense to have gone to the dealer before, saw what he/she liked, remembered the price, went to get a certified cashiers check for $50,000 or more that has the name of the dealership already printed on it, for a sports-model car, then goes back to the dealer to buy said sports car and you think he/she just now gets confused?? Not to mention if he went to the wrong dealer the check would be made out to the other/correct dealer…

Really George, really??


I walked into dealerships several times and thought they would decline to serve me based on my visible disability.

They would see a man struggling to open the dealership entrance door while holding onto his walker. They would then rush to the door to assist and greet; offer a bottle of water and point at a preferred table for service.

I tell them what car I want and then they go for it but first ask to see my driver’s license. Instead of going with me for a test drive, they hand me the keys and let me drive alone ( I assume they are scared to drive with someone like me ).

When I return, they’ll be glad to open the entrance door for me again, then the service begins.

I’ve never had problems at dealerships, and I don’t think they’d make problems for 80 year olds customers. Who knows? They might be more likely to take advantage of such people.

There is a HUGE difference in someone with a visible disability and someone showing signs of Cerebral Atrophy, Dementia or Alzheimer’s (as George is suggesting)…

And NO, by law they can not refuse to help you, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and a few more things, if you are able to drive safely, and can pay for, then you can buy a vehicle…

And I am pretty sure you have to be competent to enter into a legal contract…

So to add to this BS debate, Most likely the 90+yo incompetent person is in a cab because a family has already took his/her car keys, vehicle and drivers license away from them, and I am pretty sure the dealer ask for a DL when buying a vehicle, you know for that $50,000 check as prof if nothing else…

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Good description , like a lot of the silly threads George has started lately.


Yeah my bluntness probable got me in and out of trouble at work and in life a few times… If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask me the question…


Well they could call a family member but for me, I decide how to spend my own money.

There is a principle of promissory estopple. If the family or the old gent came back on them again, any loss to the dealership could be recovered. No need to call the family but make double sure to make sure the gent is not pressured and has the opportunity to cancel.

Yeah agree. You don’t have a check in hand but only bank approval maybe when the check is written. Ya go tax, license etc. to figure the final price.

Edit: sorry, I just read the other comments. Me thinks George has bought few cars. But my dad bbought cars well near 90 with no prob.

Obligated legally and obligated ethically are two different things. I experienced this on a much smaller scale when I had my own business.

There was a long-time customer who had clearly started to lag mentally. She would show up once a week and ask for an oil change. Her neighbor had a flat tire so she wanted to buy 4 new tires for herself, even though the tires were only 2 years old. I could easily have just “given the customer what they wanted” but I always found a way to talk her out of it. Eventually I did call her daughter (also a customer) and explain the situation. They had to take away mom’s keys not long after.

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My aunt lost her driver license when her chosen caregiver decided to report her to her doctor for possible dementia issues.

Her caregiver is her niece.

She never had issues driving on the road or remembering routes she drove on everyday. She had no issues understanding road signs and rules, and she never forgot where she parked her car in a parking lot. Her memory issue did not affect her ability to drive, at least not while her driver license was taken away.

However, she could not remember simple conversation she had with her niece. She kept asking the same question over and over again. Occasionally she would refer to her niece by the wrong name. She would go to the grocery store for a package of coffee but instead buy something else only to recall what she went to the grocery store for upon returning home.

Her niece, having authority to make decisions for her, decided to exercise such authority. She asked that the doctor revoked her aunt’s driver’s license. They conducted some tests and the rest is history.

I would never do something like this to an older person. I personally know someone who struggles with the dementia disease and his family has not reported him as they don’t feel he’s a danger to anyone. He’s been having memory issues for years and never ran into trouble with the law of the road. Always finds his way home but only drives on routes he’s familiar with. Any new routes would result in him becoming incompetent.

I like the United States for this because his doctors are aware and haven’t taken his license, either.

My aunt is from Canada and they deal with these issues differently over there.

You just don’t want another situation like Huling Bros in West Seattle was accused of back around 2007, obviously mentally ill man wanders into the dealership to buy a new GMC Canyon and in addition to selling the truck at full MSRP when discounts and rebates were available the manager and a few other salesman took the opportunity to rob the man’s apartment of about $70,000 in cash while the truck buyer was in psychiatric care at a local hospital. Came to light about the time the dealership was sold and the Huling family paid out to the victim approx $100,000 which was put in trust since the victim was in the care of the state mental hospital.

Reports at the time say it wasn’t the only time sales men at the dealer took advantage of customers who werent’ in the right mind to buy a car. Sales dropped by at least 90% after the story broke and the new owners had no other choice than to close the dealership for good.

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I have dealt with a few salesmen over the years. I do not think any of them would refuse the deal,or even try and figure out how to contact a family member

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If that hypothetic person was, as you stated…

… “somewhat confused, doesn’t understand which lot they are on, doesn’t difference between Toyota and Honda”*…

… how would he/she have been able to have the correct dealership name printed on the check, and to be able to calculate the precise price, including sales tax, registration fees, and other fees?

I’ll answer that for you:
He/she wouldn’t be able to do it.

No more of these hypotheticals, please.


What was that circular icon on the dashboard for again, George?

Circa 1982, I had a neighbor like that. She lived on the ground floor of our apartment house, and my apartment was on the top floor, which gave me a bird’s eye view of the parking area. I noticed that she came out several times each day to peer at her tail lights, which I thought was… a bit strange.

One day, I encountered her in the parking lot and politely asked her what she was doing. It turned out that she had once suffered from a dead battery because she had left her lights on, and she was trying to avoid that situation. However, because she hadn’t driven her '64 Impala for several years, it was a sure thing that the battery was as dead as a doornail.

Anyway, a few months later, I politely suggested that she should sell the car, since she never drove it, and her angry response was, “I’ll NEVER sell my Chevy!”.

The bottom line is that after she started small fires a couple of times by leaving a pot unattended on her stove, the county’s Social Services agency had her distant family enter the picture, and she was moved to an assisted living facility. Eventually, her badly-deteriorated Chevy was towed away as junk.

If they are capable of doing all of that, I would think they would know what kind of dealership they were at.

And why go to the trouble of getting a cashiers check ?
All my cars have been done with a personal check.

Since 1996, all 4 of my car purchases have been done with a personal check. The first time, I was surprised that a dealership would accept a personal check for a new car purchase, but it seems that this is now the norm.

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Just FYI, there are already banking regulations in place to prevent Elder Abuse of this kind.

If a customer appears at a bank requesting Cash or a Cashier’s Check “appearing to be somewhat confused, doesn’t understand which lot they are on, or doesn’t know the difference between Toyota and Honda” it’s doubtful that they’d have their request fulfilled.

OTOH, if said customer managed to purchase a car at a Dealer and someone objected, it’s unlikely that the bank would pay the check, pending some sort of resolution.

Bottom Line - No reputable dealership and no competent bank would ever enter into a transaction of this sort. “somewhat confused, doesn’t understand which lot they are on, or doesn’t know the difference between Toyota and Honda”.
The funds wouldn’t get transferred and if they did the Dealership and/or the Bank would find themselves without the funds and deep in s*it.

Thank your “Big Government” who dislikes Caretakers who leach off of the Elderly for Condo’s and spiffy Sports Cars. .