Returning a new car to the dealer is a little like returning hot lava to a volcano. Most likely, it's not going to happen without a lot of time, finesse and perhaps an attorney.
But it isn't impossible. In fact, some dealerships now offer a no-hassle new car return policy to attract buyers with low-risk deals and trial periods. You do have to act fast, however.
Kathryn Hatter at The Nest writes, "Make your return decision as quickly as possible. Some auto dealers have a 24-hour return policy for new car purchases. If you think you’re going to return the vehicle, don’t drive it. Keep it in new condition." Even if your dealership offers no solution for auto buyer's remorse, you might still be able to reason your way out of a bad deal with the right approach and a charitable dealer. Read on for some tips and insights into returning a new car to the mother ship.
Before you storm the gates, take a moment to see things from the other side. There is a reason that car dealers are mostly exempt from the federally mandated "cooling off period" that applies to toaster ovens and vacuum cleaners. The laws and state regulations on car sales and financing make a complicated web out of every single deal that auto sellers make.
No matter how willing your dealer might be to help you, the act of unsealing a done deal creates a lot of headaches for everyone involved.
In 2012, finance and insurance agent Marv Eleazer wrote a short article addressing the topic of dealer fairness regarding returns. In it, he outlines several of the main concerns dealers face when deciding whether to reverse a sale:
These tasks and the mountains of paperwork involved add up to many hours and troubles for dealership staff – for a vehicle that they considered sold and gone. Despite all of this, a dealer might be willing to work with you if you come in with an understandable and ethical reason for the return.
Eleazer lists several ethical issues for dealers to consider regarding their car return policy. You can use these to your advantage. Edmunds.com advises that you walk in asking for help and service in a reasonable tone. Being overly demanding or angry from the start will probably not get you nearly as far as appealing to ethics and great customer service standards. If one of the following applies to your deal, speak about your concerns with a manager or owner of the dealership.
Some of the top reasons to accept a return include the following:
Repeat business: Car sellers know that this isn't the last car you'll ever buy. They think ahead three, five or ten years down the line when you will either come back for more great customer service or hit up the competitor across town. Mention that you appreciated the great service you received while the deal was in process and then sum up the reasons you are dissatisfied with the way everything turned out. Ask that the dealership resolve the situation in a way that suggests you trust their commitment to customer satisfaction.
Reviews: Internet ratings on dealerships are everything these days; dealerships need good ratings to survive. If the dealer seems unwilling to hear you out, you might need to mention that your review will not be favorable, unless something gets fixed.
It's the right thing to do: Many dealers realize the simple fact that, in some cases, accepting a new car return is the best policy. Many dealership owners pride themselves in maintaining a spotless reputation in the community. They would rather put themselves through the hassle of a lengthy return process than leave a customer feeling shortchanged.
If you feel that returning a new car or used car is the only acceptable option and the dealer is unwilling to listen, Edmunds.com advises that you may have to seek legal counsel. This can be expensive and frustrating for all involved, so it is best to exhaust every other possibility first.
Of course, the best way to avoid the headaches of a sticky new car return policy is to look before you leap. Research and time are the best friends of the car buyer. They can prevent you from dealing with unscrupulous auto salesperson and from accepting a deal on a car you can't afford or don't want. Auto buyer's remorse is a terrible feeling. A little patience and an ethical, sympathetic dealer can help you get the car return you need.
When you get that car you want and need, finally, it's time to think about car insurance. Independent agents can help you get the best value for the coverage you need because they don't work for one parent company, like big-name captive agents in your area do. Trusted Choice® agents are ready to help you get coverage easily and quickly.