James Whitstead was devastated when, after ordering the BMW 3 Series GT he’d set his heart on, he took a second test drive and concluded the car wasn’t for him after all.
Having endured three back operations, James wanted to be sure he could cope with longer stints behind the wheel than his initial drive. Sadly, he found the pain too much and reluctantly decided to cancel his order.
He discussed his dilemma with his dealer, who, while sympathetic, told him he’d have to forfeit his £1000 deposit, and would have to pay a further £4000 in compensation because his car would be hard to sell on.
‘I fully appreciate that by cancelling the order I’d be in breach of contract and I expect to lose my deposit,’ he told Helpdesk. ‘However, having to hand over a further £4000 doesn’t seem fair.’
Deposits are usually non-refundable because they’re taken to secure a product and cover the retailer’s costs in ordering it. In rare cases, it’s possible for a retailer to claim for losses incurred over and above the deposit.
However, a search on the used car section of BMW’s website revealed an almost identical car to James’s at a similar price.
We then scrutinised the contract James signed when placing his order. It was devoid of any terms and conditions, and there was no mention of a cancellation fee.
James went back to his dealer, which agreed to ‘waive’ the £4000 penalty. It even offered to refund his deposit if it could sell the car at a high enough price. Sadly, this didn’t transpire, but as James said: ‘Ideally I’d have liked my deposit returned but feel I’ve been fairly treated.’
What if this happens to you?
- Don't rush into a purchase until you're sure the car suits your needs; take more than one test drive if you have to and take a friend or relative who can give a second opinion.
- Check all the terms and conditions referred to on the vehicle contract order form.
We've prepared lots of useful advice, including a full guide on warranties that could help you with either a new or used car.
If you need our help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a few details and we'll be in touch.