Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Think I'm getting jerked around by a dealer, NY state

Hey folks, I’m looking for anyone who might have knowledge of my rights as a buyer in NY state. Here’s the story:

I am buying a new Subaru Outback. I called a dealer who we had bought from previously, was told a model with the color and options I want was on the lot and schedule a test drive. When I arrived, it was not the interior color he had said, but he started pushing me to just take that one.

I said no, we moved to his office and talked price and incentives, got things settled in a way I was happy with. He assured me he could get me the color I wanted from another dealer and have it by the end of the week. I paid a $5,000 deposit and they took the title for my trade in, we signed a contract (that specifies the color and options and incentives we had discussed).

Now tonight he’s calling to say no other dealers have the color I want, but they can give me the one from their lot (from the test drive) with a special stain treatment. No thanks. If I’m spending all this money I want the color I want and that we signed a contract for.

Then I called a dealer about an hour away that shows 9 different vehicles with my color available on their online inventory. They run the stock numbers for all of them and have 5 available at that lot and 2 available at another lot.

So here I am. Someone is lying to me. Either Dealer A, who I’ve got the contract with is lying (probable), or Dealer B is lying to get me to come out to their lot and try to pressure me.

How can I get my money back for this deposit? What are my legal options?

Based on my experience you have been treated badly. From what you say, the dealer assumed that a car fitting your description was available to them in trade, but they were mistaken and they should have checked first. I have seen done what you were told could be done. I bought a car that was not on the lot, and the dealer had it ready the next day in the color I wanted. I was also offered a test drive before I finally committed (That was a 2006 Honda). Nicole at BestRide recently wrote a post I liked that talked about checking dealership reviews before trying a new one. Dealers take the reviews very seriously and so should customers. You owe your fellow Subaru lovers a fair and honest review saying what you say above. I recently bought a Subaru from a new dealer in New England. I was thrilled with how they were honest and helpful and didn’t play games. They sent me about six separate reviews to fill out and I did them all in full. Good dealers are out there.

I do not know the ins and outs of leagal ramifications, but do know about dealing with people as people. I would certainly start with the sales manager, tell your story, and say I need to cancel this purchase because I can get the car I desire at X dealer. Now I would not be surprised that they will come up with transportation fees, strong arm for upgrades, Say I am sorry that is not acceptable, are you here to work with customers or risk a bad review.

It’s called non-performance of the contract and if they can’t deliver, the contract is void. Problem is getting your money back on time.

Really I commuted an hour away for almost 40 years. Seems to me you just hop in your car and go take a look to verify the color on the other lot. Then you can go back to the original dealer with that info and either get them to perform or cancel the contract. You can do it all in a couple hours. Then nothing unusual to deal with a dealer only an hour away.

1 Like

Thanks, all, for the helpful comments.

After I posted I found some NY legal guidance for car purchasers that clarifies that dealers have 30 days to honor one of these delivery contracts. So basically it looks like they can hold onto my money for 30 days and then if they don’t deliver, I get my money back.

Part of the reason this is all so frustrating is that our buying experience two years ago for my husband’s car was fantastic at this same dealer. Great price and incentives, easy to deal with, overall great experience and we have referred several friends and neighbors to them in the meantime.

I called back after cooling off a little and reading your comments and talked to the salesman. He was very neutral in tone but agreed to “make some more calls” to track down getting the color that I want (and have a contract for).

I have decided to give him the benefit of the doubt for about half a day tomorrow to try to make this happen. It sounded more like he was clueless than deceitful in our second call, like he committed to me assuming he could dealer trade for the model without actually confirming that. If he can’t get it ordered and settled by lunch tomorrow, I’m calling my credit card company to cancel the payment on the deposit and going in to get my title back (I did NOT sign over the title yet, thank goodness).

Any additional advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Assuming he doesn’t come through, and I’ll guess that he won’t, the only thing I can suggest is that you don’t consider this a car problem but rather a legal problem. Be prepared to call a lawyer.

Sincere best of luck. Clearly the guy’s a shyster trying to pull a “bait & switch” scheme.

1 Like

You put a deposit on a vehicle that was in another dealers inventory, which VIN was on the contract?

No VIN in the contract. Just a description of the make/options/colors.

Go to the manager skip the salesman! You are not dealing with someone who can make an effective decision otherwise, but only someone who will try to waffle you into a sale. How the heck did waffle get such a bad rep, I love waffles, especially Belgian, might be possible info on waffle

This is probably what I’ll end up doing. I’m giving this guy a couple hours in the morning. But we were actually referred to him by our previous salesman, who is now the manager. I feel like if I call and talk to him directly and tell him that I feel like I’m being taken advantage of and it is ruining my positive impression of the dealer, then hopefully he would solve it. Unless he’s shady too?

Damn, it was so easy last time and I thought we would have a good experience again.

Hear your pain.

I’d like to add to the comments that you may want to file a formal complaint with the Consumer Affairs office at your State Attorney General’s office. They’ll investigate, and if they find malfeasance they’ll act on your behalf, and if there’s a pattern of this type of activity they’ll open a criminal investigation. Many years ago I saw a dealership end up closed due to an AG’s investigation.

1 Like

And worse, getting the title back. OP, in the future, don’t hand the title to your trade-in over until the deal is actually being finalized.

1 Like

Are we over-reacting a little bit over a car deal? True you need to get the money back if they can’t perform and the title but an unsigned title is just a piece of paper. In Minnesota you just get a duplicate for $10. But really, the AG, lawyers, consumer protection?

I remember in 1959 my folks had made a deal on a new blue 59 Ford station wagon at a dealer ten miles away. We went to pick it up and they wanted an additional $100. I suspect they had another customer on line and sold it twice. So no deal and we drove back home in our 57 Ford. No lawyers or consumer protection needed. A week later we had a blue Chevy station wagon. I still liked the smell of new Fords better but that’s life.


I’m actually not concerned about the title since it hasn’t been signed over, they’re just “holding” it. I can get a replacement for $5.

I’ll post a full update below, I have made some progress today.

Here’s the full update:

I have now talked to three other dealers in the area who confirm that they have the make/model/options/colors I want, on their lot, ready to go.

No call came from my sales guy this morning, so I went in person after my lunch break today. He seemed a little annoyed that I just showed up without a call, but hey, that’s his job. I told him about the three other dealers. He said he had talked to each of those dealers and they had told him they had no vehicles available for dealer trade. I said, here’s my ultimatum: the Subaru zero percent financing goes through January 3. I am not willing to compromise on what I want. You promised to provide that and took my money and signed a contract with that guarantee. If you can no longer guarantee that you will provide me the vehicle before the financing deal expires, then I want my deposit refunded and I’ll go to one of these other dealer.

He begged for a few more hours to make more phone calls to other dealers before he refunds my money. So I told him I would give him until close today, otherwise I am coming at opening tomorrow for my refund and title back and I’m going to another dealer.

So now I wait again.

Oh, one thing I forgot. The manager, who has previously sold me a vehicle and was the one to refer me to this salesman, actually greeted me when I walked in and said “Are you here to pick up your car today?” I said unfortunately no, and gave him the update. So hopefully he is also now putting some pressure on the sales guy.

I was in a somewhat similar situation many years ago at a Honda dealer. The salesman that sold us our first Honda was really good. When we went back for our second Honda, he was a manager so we started dealing with another salesman.

The new salesman started playing hardball and did not want not deal on the car we picked out. I went to the manager and reminded him that we were repeat buyers, he went to the salesman and told him to take out offer, period. And he did.

I think you should have started by talking to the manager and remind him of who you were, which you did eventually. I’ll bet you have your car by tomorrow.

Edit: be flexible, they may want you to go to the other dealer to pick up the vehicle, it cost money to transport these cars around.

Second edit: There is a sheet that all dealers have that show all the vehicles that are in the pipeline, that is cars that are being shipped to the area that have been built. The pipeline is about two weeks long, that is they are due to be delivered within two weeks or so. Your dealer could check the pipeline to see if your car is in the pipeline. Even if it is slated for another dealer, your dealer can request it unless someone else has already purchased it, this would save the dealer transportation costs and profit sharing with another dealer.

If it is in the pipeline, they can give you an exact date of delivery. You could get the car literally off the truck, just let the dealer finish the prep on it.

Not in my opinion. But if we are, the AG’s office will let the OP know.

1 Like

Another update: I am absolutely furious.

The salesman DID NOT EVEN BOTHER TO CALL ME tonight. I am going by at 8 when they open to get my money back, talk to the manager, and tell them that not only have they lost a repeat customer, but that I will be blasting this negative review everywhere I can.