Spanish Fort, AL asked in Consumer Law, Contracts, Appeals / Appellate Law and Civil Litigation for Alabama

Q: What to do when you've signed an arbitration agreement & days later find that the auto dealer has committed fraud?

The dealer represented that a car had only been listed as used because the owner of the dealership used it for a short period of time & knowing that the owner had intentions of selling the car, I assumed that it was well taken care of. I was originally interested in a new car but a taken care of "demo" with less than 4000 miles was acceptable. This was a material factor in my decision to buy the car because there had only been 1 user for a short time & maybe a few test-drivers. I signed the arbitration agreement & took the car home. 5 days after purchase I found 2 rental agreements in the glove compartment. The dealer failed to disclose this information about the car & denied any previous owners/renters when asked. The dealer also advertises vehicles on various sites listed as "new", when the vehicles are in fact "used." Is there any way to hold the dealer liable for fraud, deem the Arbitration Unconscionable, show I was tricked to enter into the agreement by false representation?

1 Lawyer Answer
Samuel G McKerall
Samuel G McKerall
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Gulf Shores, AL

A: You're out of luck. You can't buy a car from a dealer anywhere without having to sign an arbitration agreement. You signed it. You're stuck with it.

Your damages are minimal, if any. You thought you were buying a car with 4,000 miles on it and you got a car with 4,000 miles on it. You do not say the car is defective in any way. The fact is that you're unhappy because those 4,000 miles were put on the car by someone other than the person you thought put them on. How many dollars do you calculate that's worth? Do you see the problem?

There's a latin phrase that applies here. De minimis non curat lex,which means, more or less, that the law does not concern itself with trivial matters. That's the situation in which you find yourself.

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