Maybe you just saw a great deal on a car online? You are feeling very tempted, as you have looked in your local area, and you cannot find a deal that comes close.
Only problem…the dealer is five hours away and often several states away.
What could go wrong, right?
Well, in fact—A LOT.
Virginia Consumer Law Attorney John Gayle, Jr. strongly cautions you to be careful before you click and buy from afar.
The Consumer Law Group, P.C. receives calls almost daily from frustrated consumers living outside of Virginia, who purchased a vehicle in Virginia—thinking it was a GREAT deal.
4 Common Nightmare Scenarios When Buying a Car in Virginia
Below is a list of 4 common nightmare scenarios that The Consumer Law Group, P.C. hears from out-of-state consumers who have purchased vehicles in Virginia—and underscores why we discourage consumers (in general) from buying vehicles from dealerships that are far away. Mr. Gayle’s opinion is that, when these dealers know the buyer resides in other states, they feel free to violate Virginia consumer protection laws and commit fraud, since the logistics for the buyer to litigate in a state far away makes such litigation impractical.
- If you have problems with the vehicle after purchasing, you are going to really regret being so far away. You can’t just hop in your car and stop by the dealer. Even if your vehicle has a dealer warranty, you are going to have to drive ALL THE WAY THERE and BACK to the dealer. After all that trouble, they may “fix” the issue—and then you drive home—and the issue still exists!
What if your vehicle develops problems shortly after purchase—to the point that the vehicle no longer runs? You call the dealer (hopefully they answer) and say, “bring it back, so we can take a look at it.” But your vehicle doesn’t start. Now you either have to pay to have the vehicle TOWED or pay to get it fixed to the point it can make the haul down to the dealer.
What kind of problems could happen, you ask. Well, let’s say you pay cash for the vehicle, and the dealer says, “We are working on the title. We will mail it to you. Don’t worry about it.” You feel confident and happy, driving away in your vehicle. Happy and confident until days, weeks, and maybe even months go by—and you still don’t have your title. You keep calling the dealership—and they are literally ghosting you. They are not answering your calls. When you get through to the dealer, they put you on hold—and then never pick up. You literally feel powerless. You could try to drive down to the dealer and demand your title or your money back—but they may say the manager is out of the office that day. So you have just driven there and back—without nothing to show for it.
You have issues with your vehicle. You live many hours from the dealership. You have called, emailed, texted, sent certified letters, and still you have made no progress to resolve the car issues you are having. Now you have decided: THIS IS IT. I HAVE HAD IT. I am going to sue. Maybe you live in a different part of Virginia or even in a state other than Virginia (such as Tennessee, Maryland, or the District of Columbia). Now you have decided to sue the dealership. Guess what? You may have to sue the dealership in the court jurisdiction where they are located, unless you can prove it has enough contacts in your state to be subject to your state’s jurisdiction. Thus, if you purchased a vehicle in northern Virginia, you have to sue the dealership in a courthouse in northern Virginia. If you decide to have an attorney represent you, you will need an attorney licensed to practice in Virginia. In addition, if the case goes all the way to court, the defendant (the dealership) is legally allowed to ask to perform an inspection on the vehicle. So, you will need to transport the vehicle to Virginia. If the vehicle is not drivable, you may have to pay to have it towed.
You may also need to pay witnesses to travel to Virginia court and testify on your behalf.
In general, these cases may be expensive to litigate. These costs may be recoverable—but it just adds another level of burden on you.