Skeezy Car Dealer Is Holding My Deposit Until I Come Back To Talk To Him

Don plopped down $500 at a Hyundai dealership with the understanding that he’d get his money back if the sale fell through. He wasn’t happy with the terms of the deal, so he went with another dealership and was assured that he’d get the money back. The dealer still has the deposit and told Dan he’d like him to come in and have a sit-down about why the sale didn’t happen. Dan just wants his $500.

He writes:

Two weeks ago I attempted to purchase a 2010 Hyundai Elantra SE from Long Island City Hyundai in [redacted], NY. I left a $500 deposit on my credit card and $4500 via an electronic check transfer. After a lot of seemingly intentional confusion regarding matching a competitors price (I showed them the prices for both cash and financing and they matched the competitors cash price but only if I were financing), and then being made to wait close to 4 hours for their finance department (and losing a day of work) I got disgusted and canceled the transaction. No contract had been signed and per New York law the deposit is fully refundable. The salesman himself confirmed that the money would be refunded.

The dealer’s posted policy is to refund Credit Card deposits on the Friday following the cancellation. As I canceled the deal on Thursday the 17th of June, I expected to see the credit card deposit refunded on the 18th. As of Today I still have not been refunded. I spoke to Jack (who is a manager or possibly owner) on June 29th. He “wanted me to come in so we could talk about the deal falling through.” I wanted my money returned before I would entertain anything of the sort. At this point I believe it became clear to him that I was not going to buy the car from him. Since then I have called back a couple of times every day and he is always conveniently “out” (despite a friend calling immediately afterwards and speaking to him).

All I want is to get my money back. I already purchased the car from another Hyundai dealer and had nothing but a wonderful experience.

I’ve filed a complaint with Hyundai and the Better Business Bureau. I can call my credit card company and dispute the $500 deposit but I’m not sure how to proceed with respect to the deposit from my bank account. Is there a similar mechanism for “disputing” such a transfer. Obviously I can and will file a case in small claims court- but I would prefer to avoid that as it takes a lot of time and effort. Is there someone else I should be contacting? It is possible the dealer has gotten the message and will refund my deposits now- but since they are actively ignoring me I have no way to determine that.

How would you go about getting your deposit back while leaping through minimal flaming hoops?


Edit Your Comment

  1. keepher says:

    Tell the dealer you’re filing a complaint with the AG and then do it.

    • dbeahn says:

      +1 and then file in small claims court for the value of your time.

      • Griking says:

        I’ve always wondered what the value of someone’s personal time is worth. It’s easy to put an amount on work or professional time but personal?

        • OSAM says:

          Bill yourself at a rate you feel is worthy of “your time”. A judge may say you’re overreaching ($1000/hr?) but generally it goes pretty easily. Often a judge will simply award a straight up amount.

          • JennQPublic says:

            Umm, I don’t think you can get paid for your time in a situation like this. A better bet is to ask for punitive damages, to punish the dealership for being skeezy.

            IANAL, but I do watch a lot of Judge Judy. :-p

            • howie_in_az says:

              I’d think one would be able to bill at a rate reflective of their salary for any “lost” time.

              • coldfire409 says:

                Actually they can’t ask for lost salary because somebody that’s a brain surgeon could ask for one amount and escalate the case out of small claims. Also punitive damage would be tough to prove because what the dealer is asking for isn’t that outrageous. I’d say call your credit card company and let them handle it.

  2. matt314159 says:

    When he gets on the line with your friend, have him give you the phone ;)

  3. Commenter24 says:

    It sounds like he may actually be trying to recover a $5000 deposit ($500 CC + $4500 bank transfer). If that’s the case, he may fall outside what small claims will deal with. Tell the manager that you’re not going to waste your time meeting with him and that if the deposit isn’t returned by (insert date a few days in the future; given them a *reasonable* amount of time to process the refund) that you’ll be initiating legal action. The key is being firm; make sure they know that you’re a no-bullshit guy and that it would be a mistake to think you’re bluffing.

    • huadpe says:

      New York State Small Claims Court covers amounts up to $5000. If he’s really unsure, he can sue for $4999.99

      • SlayerGhede says:

        Or he can chargeback the $500 on his credit card, then small claims the remaining $4500.

  4. pantheonoutcast says:

    Don’t be passive-agressive. Go back to the dealership and demand the deposit be paid back in full immediately. It’s much harder to say “no” to someone’s face.

    Also: “Two weeks ago I attempted to purchase a 2010 Hyundai Elantra SE from Long Island City Hyundai in [redacted], NY.”

    Redacted? Really? You don’t think it might be in Long Island City, NY, do you?

    • YarpVark says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to notice that….

    • stormbird says:

      Wait! There’s not a town in every state called ‘Redacted’? I was wondering why people were going to that town when it seems like every business there is horrible.

    • physics2010 says:

      No no…you are all wrong. Its the Long Island City Hyundai in Albany NY. /s

      • jefeloco says:

        I live near Nampa, Idaho. We have Nampa KIA that was located in Caldwell for 4-5 years before relocating to Nampa…

    • Griking says:

      “Don’t be passive-agressive. Go back to the dealership and demand the deposit be paid back in full immediately. It’s much harder to say “no” to someone’s face.”

      That’s what the dealer is counting on.

    • dg says:

      I’m sure the delay is to ensure that the funds actually clear. But given the length of time, they’ve cleared, and now you should be getting interest on your money. Prior to initiating legal proceedings:

      Just walk in, ask to talk to the owner or manager of the dealership. Tell him that you are not buying a car from him, that you’re done waiting, and that you want your money refunded NOW. Do not leave until you get your money. Just refuse to leave. Everyone who walks in, say “Hi, hey how are you doing? Listen, just so you know, I gave these guys a deposit, the deal didn’t go through, I went somewhere else, and now they won’t refund my cash…”.

      After doing that once or twice, you’ll have your money.

      If they call the cops – that’s fine. Just remain calm, don’t yell or give the cop any reason to get irked at you. Just stick to your mantra “I gave them $5000, I’m not buying a car here, it’s been over two weeks, I want it back. Give me my money, and I’ll leave.”

      If you do get arrested, then I wouldn’t talk with the dealer any longer – just SUE HIS ASS, and add in “mental distress, defamation of character,…” and whatever else your attorney can dream up. Then have them served, and make sure that the local media hears about the 7-figure lawsuit against a sleezy car dealer who wouldn’t return the deposit and had the customer arrested…

      On top of the lawsuit, file a complaint with the NY AG. If the dealership sent you something in the mail advertising the deal and the refundability of the deposit, file a complaint with the USPS Postal Inspectors too. File a complaint with the BBB. AND I’d put up a website, pay a guy with a sandwich board for a week to hang out on public property somewhere around the dealership and say “Car deposit held hostage by XYZ Dealer… visit “www.” for more info… Caveat Emptor!

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      LOL, that was my initial reaction, too. Redacting the city doesn’t help much if the city name is part of the business name.

  5. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I would go to a branch of the bank and ask for help. If they cannot help, I would write a demand letter to the dealer and stop talking to him on the phone. Something like, “You have X days to return my deposit or I will file suit against you.” There are probably samples of such letters on the internet. The letter may be effective without requiring you to go through small claims.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      You could also contact local media. They might like a story such as this for a consumer piece.

      • greatgoogly says:

        Contacting local media doesn’t really work much these days if the dealership is buying lots of advertising from said media. Newspapers and TV stations are so desperate for revenue that they are not going to risk losing a big account like a car dealership over $500. The sales department in most tv, radio and newspaper have a heavy claw in the news side.

        • lucidpsyche says:

          Unfortunately, he’s right. My old station was always VERY careful when it came to stories about car dealerships. They usually didn’t run them.

  6. Skellbasher says:

    File a chargeback on your credit card. Contact your bank and void the electronic check.

    Then contact the AG’s office.

  7. KillerBee says:

    I would be happy to go in and talk to the manager or owner (preferable owner) about the situation, as he suggested. But do it at your convenience, not his. You know there is no possible way you’re going to buy a car from him. I’m sure he knows it, too, but he probably wants any opportunity to get a second chance.
    Then you can talk to him about BBBs and AGs and small claims courts right to his face. I’d be willing to bet you’d walk out of there with a check in your hand.

    P.S. Bring a device to record the conversation.

    • Tenacity says:

      Careful. That’s not legal in my state. You must inform the other party they’re being taped. Remember Linda Tripp….???

      • Puddy Tat says:

        That’s why you set the tape recorder on the desk and say before we start JOHN SMITH I am recording this conversation! First thing I want my deposit back immediately, I have called x amount of times, emailed x amount of times and I want my money back now – plus interest for the time you have held it hostage.

  8. gurupitka says:

    I had a similar incident a few years ago with a $2500.00 deposit.
    I called the Police.
    Funny how things tend to resolve themselves rather quickly when a car dealer has to explain to the Sheriff why he stole $2500.00 from you. I received a check the following week.

  9. AI says:

    Step 1) Hire a guy named ‘Vinnie’
    Step 2) Send him to the dealership
    Step 3) Enjoy having your money back

  10. GearheadGeek says:

    Let me be clear that I’m not blaming the OP here, but offering advice to help people avoid similar situations. Never EVER pay a deposit before the terms are agreed upon. A deposit should be something you pay while waiting for financing confirmation, or to hold a particular vehicle after terms are agreed upon if you’re not able to close the sale quickly, such as when a dealer is too far away to conveniently visit until the weekend or if you’re waiting for funds to transfer from another account or institution, etc.

    Don’t give them money until the terms are agreeable to you.

    • bradanomics says:

      If you do that make sure you tell him when you walk up that you are recording the conversation. That way it doesn’t become inadmissible in court due to wiretapping laws.

      • veg-o-matic says:

        I think you meant to reply elsewhere.

        At any rate, New York does not require two-party consent to record conversations – just one.

      • gman863 says:

        Some dealerships have a small sign posted at or near the door stating something like “audio and video recording on premisis”.

        If they do, the permission normally works both ways and you may not have to tell them you’re recording. If in doubt, ask an attorney.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      The problem is, you don’t go out and buy a new car every day. If you’re fortunate, it’s a once in a decade experience. That puts you at a disadvantage right there due to the differential in experience level. It’s kind of like taking one golf lesson, then playing a round with Tiger Woods. So no, you can’t blame OP, but you can bet he won’t do that again.

    • SlappyFrog says:

      And NEVER make the deposit in cash.

  11. sonneillon says:

    Invoice them for 500 dollars +gas charges and time. Then send notice you intend to report their bill against their corporate credit rating. Car dealerships live and die on leverage. An extra 1/2 a percent because their rating got downgraded from BBB- to BB+ can cost a dealership millions.

    • Commenter24 says:

      That may not be entirely legal. To send and then report, in bad faith, an illegitimate bill with the sole purpose of creating leverage could be extortion, fraud, etc. This isn’t a good idea.

      • Sword_Chucks says:

        Why is that a bad idea? Utility companies do it all the time

      • huadpe says:

        It’s not an illegitimate bill. They really do owe the OP the money.

        • Commenter24 says:

          When he starts to charge for gas and time, which are things that were never agreed to by either party, it becomes arguably illegitimate.

          • huadpe says:

            Then break it into two sections. Call the part for the $5000 a “bill,” and the rest a “settlement offer,” since the OP intends to sue for damages including those.

    • SabreDC says:

      Where did people get this stupid idea that time is worth money? Did the OP *lose* money by spending time at the dealership? Did the dealer hire the OP and contract him/her by the hour? People need to stop clogging the legal system with ridiculous cases where someone thinks they are worth $100/hour or something.

      OP: File suit for the the deposit (and yes, I agree the gas should be included as well since it was expended). Leave the fictional time argument out of it.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        My question is how do you determine how much your time is actually worth?

        Would a McD’s employees time be worth only $7.50/hr because those are the wages he or she sacrifices to deal with a situation like this outside of work?

        • midniteslayr says:

          Dealing with compensation for time, it all goes to what you feel your personal time is worth. If you go in to a dealership with several hours to purchase a car, your time isn’t worth that much. However, if you had planned to do something (say going to a Yankees game or a concert), and dealing with the dealership made you miss your planned scheduled event, then your personal time is usually worth a lot more. For example, if you paid 50 bucks to see a 2 hour concert, and you missed the opening half of the show because of the dealership, your time is now worth 25 dollars an hour. Same goes with missing work. If you miss a day of work, then the amount of compensation is your hourly working rate. The compensation rate can go up if you mix your personal time as well as your work time, depending on how in demand your schedule is.

          Basically the whole argument of compensation for time is based on how in demand your time is. If you have a loose schedule, then your rate is much less than someone who has a very tight schedule.

      • Commenter24 says:

        Time is worth money. That said, the problem is people are under the impression that it’s actually compensable.

      • MikeM_inMD says:

        Where did people get this stupid idea that time is worth money? Did the OP *lose* money by spending time at the dealership?

        The OP says that the 4 hour wait for the finance department lost him a day of work. Wage or salary, that’s money.

        • Commenter24 says:

          He didn’t have to wait for the finance department; he did so by his own free will. He could have just left the dealership and gone back to work.

      • sonneillon says:

        I would (and have) invoiced at whatever I think I could get out of them. Usually I say I had to take a day off of work and bill for lost wages. No need to file a lawsuit. The invoice is usually good enough. Then we haggle. I’ve never had to go to court over someone owing me money like that. And the 3 times I invoiced and threatened their credit I got essentially my money back plus 20-30 bucks, but they always haggle and it’s a car dealership “Hit them high and scrape them off the ceiling.”

      • coldfire409 says:

        Unless a lawsuit is a result in gross negligence you cannot win an award for lost wages. The only cases where I’ve seen them is workman’s comp, and auto accident cases. Other than that it’s very rare.

  12. Big Mama Pain says:

    There’s nothing like going in and talking to them when there are lots of other potential customers around. Loudly. The dealer/manager/owner whoever you dealt with is going to want to herd you into a room where no one can hear you. Don’t go. I can’t believe someone would be this patient about getting that kind of money back, money that in absolutely no way belongs to that dealership.

    Another bit of advice; don’t give a dealership a thin dime until everything is agreed on and written down. They try to tell you to give them something to show you’re serious, tell them to get bent; obviously you wouldn’t be taking a day off of work to go car shopping if you weren’t serious. It’s also not your problem to convince them that you’re serious.

    • DPST says:

      OP here-

      I left the original $500 on my credit card because I knew I could charge it back without issue.

      The $4500 was left when I came back two days later to finalize the purchase. I was in the dealer waiting for the financing department and the sales guy assured me they would take care of the pricing. I was trying to reduce any further delays by getting the deposit taken care of. Shortly after that the games began.

  13. jezebelcsz says:

    Oh, go talk to him. Absolutely. And bring flyers, like this guy:

  14. guymandude says:

    2 words: Dealer Board. Your state will have one. Go go go.

  15. Bohemian says:

    I would never put a deposit down while still doing the transaction or agreeing to terms. We have bought two cars through dealerships, one new, one used and never had to leave a deposit. If someone asked me for one on a car that was on the lot I would walk. The only logical reason for a deposit is for a car that is on order from the factory.

    • t325 says:

      The idea of a deposit is to hold the car in case you need some time to sort out financing or whatever, but IMO a salesperson who wants the sale from you will hold it for a reasonable amount of time without a deposit.

      Case in point, I factory ordered a new VW GTI back in 2007 and paid the deposit since it was factory ordered, which was understandable. In 2009, I was in an accident and the car was totaled. I went back to the same dealer and they had a new GTI on the lot that was nearly identical to my old one and I wanted it, but was still waiting for insurance to pay the claim. Maybe it was because I was a repeat customer, or maybe it was just because they wanted the sale, but they held the car for me for a week with no deposit while I was waiting for the insurance company to finish up.

    • Michaela says:

      I had never heard of putting down a deposit for a car while shopping. When I went around last year, I just told each dealer what I was considering and then called them up when I made me final decision. I guess since I wasn’t dealing with financing things could be different (my car was paid in full the day I bought it; I just gave them the check when the price was settled and told them to get me out of there are quickly as possible).

    • lilyHaze says:

      I’ve seen people putting down deposits for popular (almost sold-out) cars or perhaps if they wanted a custom car from the factory. There are also deposits for pre-ordering or “holding” a car that hasn’t been released yet.

      Otherwise, if it’s just a regular, not that popular car, which there are many of, I would NEVER put a deposit down either.

  16. Patrick says:

    Uh, have you considered actually just going in? Yes, the guy’s being a putz, but if you walk in and refuse to discuss anything until the money’s in your hand and then leave, that has to be easier than court filings.

    Something similar happened to a buddy of mine, and I went in with him, because the sight of two large, sloppily dressed men standing in the middle of a showroom full of cars, announcing in booming voices that they needed to speak to whoever could give an overdue deposit back, motivates salesmen to get you your money & get you out the door & away from customers ASAP.

    • DPST says:

      OP here-

      Going in is easier said than done. I’d have to try to stop by before work- or after work- I’m not around on the weekends generally. Before or after work is possible- but I’m working on some major computer infrastructure upgrades and time is in short supply right now. I’m hoping to be able to swing by this weekend.

  17. drburk says:

    Call Hyundai’s corporate legal department explain your situation and ask “what should I do?” If they aren’t helpful ask where your AG complaint should be sent. Then call the dealer you purchased from explain you cannot afford the car since Long Island City Hyundai is sitting on $5000 of your money ask them “how do I proceed in returning the vehicle?” you are most likely outside of your right to return and they know it but you may get some help in solving the issue rather than loose a sale and cause a big fight.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Try reading the story again.

    • Darkneuro says:

      Calling the manufacturer won’t do anything. Each dealership is independently owned and operated, and the manufacturer is prevented by contract from interfering in the business practices of that independent dealer. And no, it doesn’t matter if they’re using the Hyundai name or not.

      • DPST says:

        Actually it does matter. All dealership agreements require the dealership to not do anything that will tarnish the brand. Hyundai is investigating the manner and is reaching out to the dealer.

  18. Ephraim says:

    Send the owner a letter….

    Without Prejudice

    You have 10 business days to send me a cheque for the deposit, plus the costs of this registered letter, the sheet of paper and the stamp via registered mail.

    If I do not receive this letter on the 15th business day following your receipt of this letter I will assume that you have no intention of returning my money. I will then proceed with registering my claim in small claims court, at which point I will only accept payment via the court to include all legal costs including the filing fee by certified cheque.

    Have a great day.

    • jasonq says:

      Hm. I’d make it 5 business days. No sense in letting them hold on to the cash any longer, and that’s more than enough time to respond.

  19. irritated-gooch says:

    When your friend calls, get on the phone and inform him that you will be filing a complaint with Hyundai, the Better Business Bureau, and whatever other agencies you can legitimately file a complaint with. He has no right to your $500.

  20. leprechaunshawn says:

    He may not have a legal leg to stand on depending on the laws in NY. I used to sell cars in WI and if any kind of deposit was collected that also meant that a purchase agreement was also entered into and signed by the dealership and the buyer. In WI, a purchase agreement between a dealer and buyer is a legally binding contract with no cooling off period. The legal information on the back states that if the purchaser cancels the contract, the dealer may charge the buyer up to 5% of the purchase price of the vehicle. The only exception is if you special order a vehicle and it is not delivered within 15 days of the anticipated delivery date recorded on the contract.

    That being said, when I worked in car sales, we never tried to charge anyone the 5% or even keep their deposit. We threatened a few times, but never followed through.

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      Whoops! I guess I should have RTFA!! I glazed over the part where he said he never entered an agreement.

    • gman863 says:

      Years ago, when I was an advertising rep for a radio station, I was pressured into putting a deposit on a new car. I told the dealership it was contingent on checking prices for the same car at his competitor, wrote it on the sales order and made the sales manager initial it before I handed over the check.

      The competitor’s net offer with trade was $1500 better. When I went to get my deposit back, the sales manager threatend to call his ad agency and cancel their contract with the radio station unless I bought their car at their price.

      My response was two words: “F^ck You”. I called my bank and stopped payment on the check. When I told my boss what happened, he laughed and gave me props for standing up for my rights.

      The dealership didn’t can cancel their advertising. They did, however, get a new sales manager a few weeks later.

      It’s rare, but once in a while there is Karma in the car business.

    • Blinden says:

      I put $500 down on a car and came in 2 days later to pick it up, and they told me it was already sold to another person… so, I would say in many places, a deposit is not legally binding apparently.

  21. JediJohn82 says:

    I’d file a police report for theft.

    • Commenter24 says:

      In order to prove larceny in NY, the State would have to show that at the time the dealer took the deposit that it intended to wrongfully retain it. This is essentially a contract dispute.

      • jimmyhl says:

        I don’t know about NY but most states’ criminal codes establish a number of theft offenses short of outright larceny, such as theft by deception or theft by failure to make required disposition. The practical problem, as you already identified, is that police are very reluctant to get involved in what they perceive as contractual disputes even it seems pretty obvious that the holder of the funds has no right to retain them. If (and it’s a big if) the OP could at least succeed in getting the local cops to take a theft report, most police departments would then have to send a cop to the dealer to get his side of the story. Sometimes that can be enough to get things moving in the right direction. I had some luck this way with a garage door installation company.

        • Commenter24 says:

          NY has larceny by trick, but you have to prove that the dealer obtained possession of the money by an intentional false statement with the intent to defraud.

    • ludwigk says:

      There was no trespassory taking.

  22. adelig89 says:

    Why doesn’t he just GO to the dealership instead of sitting on his ass?

  23. Mclick says:

    I had an experience with one of those mail in rebate deals from an Electronics place. Got the run around on the phone for months. Finally I went down there, refused to leave until I received my full rebate directly from the store. They gave it to me, with a little bit of a fight but I didn’t back down. Do the same, go there and demand it be processed. Speak load enough to catch the attention of other buyers. I am sure it will get dealt with ASAP.

  24. smartaz says:

    How about contacting a local TV station that has a business fraud section in their local news? File a police report also. Bring a copy with you to the dealership as well as sending copies to various agencies (AG, BBB, parent company of the dealership, etc.). Make it official. Good luck!

  25. H3ion says:

    Go to the dealership. Do not go alone. If you have a lawyer friend, go with the lawyer friend. If not, go with someone else, preferably someone dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase. If he/she’s not a lawyer, introduce the person as your adviser. In any case, make it clear that the person is a witness. It may make sense to go at a time when the dealership is busy so that you can tell other potential customers the treatment you received while you’re waiting for the owner to pony up. Chargeback and bank action if possible. Good luck.

  26. MrsLopsided says:

    He is out $5,000 not $500.
    Go to the dealership and refuse to leave. Start chatting up customers.

  27. italianbaby says:

    Why do people part with their money (cash deposits, deposit on charges or electronic transfers) before the deal is sealed is beyond me.
    the only time you give a deposit of any sort, is when you both agree on the deal. sign the deal and take possession.
    once these salesman have your money, do you think they are just going to hand it over that easily. hell no!!! they are going to make it harder then hell.
    honestly, you put yourself in this mess.
    never hand over anything until you both agree on the price and terms etc.
    and if you did sign something. there is a 3 day rescind law. which means you have 3 days to change your mind on any contract you signed or product ordered.

    • Dave on bass says:

      not true – there is no 3-day right of rescision ESPECIALLY on car purchases. I believe that thing exists in some measure in the world of real estate, but even then it’s not “dang, I wish I hadn’t bought this house” – I believe it pertains to the intent-of-sale contract before closing is even established.

      • Randell says:

        In some states yes, and others no. There are also different laws for dealerships versus private party sales. Please study law before you plan on giving false legal information.

        • Dave on bass says:

          If that little “please study law” comment was aimed at me, I’ll concede I only know from my own experiences in buying cars and houses and all the various idiosyncracies I’ve seen therein. That said, I’d rather give the OP generalized advice that leans toward caution, over the statement about the ubiquity of 3-day rescission made by the person I was responding to.

    • Commenter24 says:

      The right of recission is a state-law issue, and as such it varies state-to-state.

    • veritybrown says:

      An unnecessary deposit or a deposit without paperwork first being signed is a pretty standard scam–if you’re asked for one, run the other way, because you are dealing with a crook.

      An unscrupulous landlord (currently in prison for federal insurance fraud charges) tried this on me once. We were moving there from another state, and after finding the house we wanted to rent and applying for tenancy, we had to go back home before we found out whether or not our application had been accepted. A few days later, I got a call from the landlord, demanding a HUGE deposit, in cash, without any lease papers having been signed (or even read). I asked him to fax me the paperwork, but he refused. There was no way on earth I was going to fall for that! Getting the house we wanted just wasn’t worth the HUGE risk of being conned.

    • Trick says:

      The one time I left a CC deposit for a toy hauler I was buying went very well in the end. The better half and I went to look at a specific toy hauler, but couldn’t negotiate it down to a price that was acceptable to us. We were shown a different toy hauler that was cheaper and actually had more options… We talked about the purchase, I knew the specs of my truck and the trailer and decided to buy, with one being ready for us the following weekend. So I gave a $2500 CC deposit and the paperwork would be finished the following weekend.

      The next day at home I did more research on the trailer and found that it might be just a little too much for my truck. Instead of a toy hauler that would take about 75% of my trucks towing capability, I was now close to 95%… not much leeway. After some thought I knew this was not the right choice… I called the dealer, told them my concerns and though they had said I should have no problems towing the toy hauler, I was not buying it.

      Not wanting to lose the deposit/sale they worked with us on the toy hauler we originally wanted and we ended with a way better deal than we thought we could make in the 1st place… Still, in the future I doubt I will make such a spur of the moment buy without doing the research 1st.

  28. sirwired says:

    For the OP: Each state has an agency that licenses car dealers (it’s usually part of the DMV.) A complaint there, and/or to the state attorney general’s, can get some attention.

    This doesn’t help the OP, but NEVER, EVER give a deposit for a car you aren’t special ordering. There is no reason to do so. They exist only so dealers can pull this kind of crap.

    If you read the fine print in the deposit agreement, you will probably see that the dealer reserves the right to sell the car you want out from under you in return for simply refunding your deposit. So, if he gets somebody that is willing to buy TODAY, your deposit reserves nothing.

    If the dealer REALLY has a car you want, and won’t take “no deposit” for an answer, then DO NOT leave a deposit on anything but a credit card. Checks, as the OP is finding out, are very hard to get back.

  29. Phreaky says:

    No offense, but if you’re still giving actual money to a car salesman, you have much to learn my friend.
    First of all, if you are dealing with a new car that you are going to get financing on, go to your bank and get approved for an auto loan before you ever set foot in a car dealership. Then go pick out the car you want – financing already approved. You don’t have to deal with any of their BS.
    If you’re not financing, you never ever give them money for anything. There is never a car buying emergency where you have to put money down to hold it. They will say things like you need to make a deposit or you could lose the deal, etc…. all 100% BS.

  30. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    Go to the dealership and say nothing but these words to any question or comment. “I want my $5,000.” Say nothing but that, repeat it over and over – especially while on the sales floor. You do not need to say anything else. Do not answer questions about what better deal you found or what car you bought or from whom. “I want my five thousand dollars. I want my five thousand dollars.” It may sound childish, but having 10 years of dealership experience, I can guarantee you that will be the fastest route to getting your money. I would accept cash if offered, actually I would prefer it if I were you. They will give you excuses about not being able to complete that transaction today…repeat the phrase and add that cash would be fine.

    Good luck and do NOT do this again. Never leave anything at a car dealership ever under any circumstances – title, keys, money, ex, nothing!

    • Bort says:

      good job on slipping ex into the equation!

    • Randell says:

      I disagree. I think is entirely appropriate to leave your ex at a dealership.

    • Julia789 says:

      I would reinforce the idea of while repeating on the sales floor (on a busy Saturday afternoon preferably) “I want my $5,000 back” to make sure NOT to lose your cool, raise your voice, or say anything else. Bring a level-headed friend as a witness. Record it if its legal in your state.

      I’m unsure if he’s made it clear to the dealer that he already bought the car somewhere else. Maybe the dealer is asking him to come in because they think they can salvage the sale. If they know it is a lost cause, maybe they will refund the money. Maybe the dealer thinks they can stop the other sale and get theirs back. He needs to make it clear that he is already in possession of the new car.

      Who knows, maybe the dealer just wants to know what was screwed up so it doesn’t happen again, apologize, and leave on a good note so he doesn’t badmouth their dealership. Maybe he’ll give the guy a coupon to use their dealership for service in the future. He may just be trying to do damage control.

    • SwoonOMatic says:

      This is also known as the “Broken Record” technique. Very effective with stubborn sales people and small children.

  31. menty666 says:

    “Sure, love to come talk. What time shall I have the county sheriff show up so we can discuss this?

  32. backinpgh says:

    I’d just send him a certified letter saying if he doesn’t return the deposit in full within 7 business days (or whatever) you’ll be pursuing the matter legally. He’ll probably just give your money back then.

  33. Phexerian says:

    First, go to the dealership and be firm, loud, and let people know that the dealership owes you money. Park your car right in front of the door no matter what anyone says. Don’t let them pull you into a room, tell them to get you your money. They will keep trying to pull you into a room, say no until you give you the money. They will still keep it up, but don’t back down.

    Eventually someone else will probably come and talk to you, usually the person in charge. Just keep pestering them until they give you the money. If they threaten cops or anything of the like, leave and file action in court. Or you could leave and send them a certified letter demanding payment.

    If you make any threats like a chargeback, make sure you actually follow through on it.

    Take a friend with you.

    Remember, you are dealing with sleaze bags.

    ALSO, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING IN DETAIL! Just in case it does go to court. Everytime you call, what time and date you called, who you spoke with. Detailed accounts of every visit, etc…

    • MikeB says:

      First, go to the dealership and be firm, loud, and let people know that the dealership owes you money. Park your car right in front of the door no matter what anyone says.

      As an addition, put a sign on the car saying. Long Island City Hyundai is holding my money hostage, so i bought this car at X dealer. Or something similar. Put it in the front window and lock the car.

  34. calchip says:

    The OP doesn’t sound like the most strong-willed person, so I don’t think going into the dealership wouldbe a good idea. If it were me, I would not have transferred dollar one until there was a signed deal; I suspect the dealership walked all over him because they knew they could, and are now stonewalling because they know they can. The very fact that the OP is even willing to *consider* going back to that dealership is an indication that he is probably ill-equipped to handle the sort of manipulation they are dishing out.

    Under the circumstances, I would suggest to the OP to get his friend to call, get the manager on the line, hand the phone to you, and at that point say “I need the money transferred back into my account within 24 hours. I will not come into your office, and this is not open for discussion. Otherwise, I will take legal action, and will explore whether criminally actionable behavior has occurred and, if so, pressing charges.”

    *Probably* that will do it. If it does not, then contacting your AG’s office, or perhaps if there’s a state senator with a constituent services office, someone from there will make a phonecall for you.

    The suggestion about going into the showroom on a busy day and loudly stating your complaint and not moving until you get a check is also a good idea, but if you are going to do that, take someone who is very strong-willed with you, otherwise they’ll sucker you again.

    Clearly the dealership is run by a bunch of sleazebags who are simply taking advantage of you because they know they can. If you make it unpleasant enough, they’ll just cut a check and be done with it, and that is probably the simplest solution.

    • Commenter24 says:

      This is generally pretty good advice. In order to “strong-arm” the dealer into returning the money one must actually have a strong arm. Otherwise, the dealer will just turn the tables and end up with the upper-hand.

      The only minor point I would make is that an individual can “explore whether criminally actionable behavior has occurred” all day long, but it doesn’t make a god damn bit of difference. The only person (generally) who has any say whatsoever in whether criminal charges are filed is the prosecutor’s office (or DA’s office, or whatever the prosecuting agency is called in your locale). A citizen can “press’ all he or she wants to, but in the end it’s not out of his or her hands whether criminal charges are actually filed. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that all they have to do is yell “crime,” snap their fingers and a charging document will be filed. That’s not how it works in the real world.

  35. italianbaby says:

    hope this clears matters: the top site lists all about contracts and canceling and the 3 day rescind laws. does not apply to real estate alone. see here. this is for new york
    Automobile Broker Business Contracts.11 (Consumer has three (3) days from the signing of the contract to cancel.)

  36. EcPercy says:

    Why in the world would you waste time filing a complaint with the BBB? Just go in to the stealer (i mean dealer)… and get your money back.

    Take someone with you when you go and demand your money back. Don’t talk about why you aren’t buying a car from them. Tell them you:

    1. Found a better deal and bought a new car and wont be needing theirs and
    2. You want your money back

  37. jimmyhl says:

    Can anyone tell me what good reason a car dealer would have to insist that this man physically appear at the lot in order to get his money back? I can think of a lot of lousy reasons, but good ones are completely out of reach. At least to me. Are they trying to punish him for buying a car elsewhere? Does the dealer think the man’s going to walk away from a $5000.00 loss? Does he believe that some kind of half-baked “goodwill” gesture will erase the fact that he’s treated this customer poorly? Or is he so desperate for a week’s worth of interest that it’s worth it to lose a customer FOREVER

  38. Nick says:

    Run over the guy with your new Hyundai.

  39. kent909 says:

    AT the first mention of legal action they will stop talking to you period. Don’t threaten legal action. Once you do you can kiss your money good-bye. The dealer will ultimately have to pay but the lawyers will take most of it. As soon as the dealer failed to return the deposit, based on the agreement for the deposit, it became a fraudulent charge. Let the banks deal with these thieves.

  40. Polaritypictures says:

    Go down there with a Big sign saying these people ripped you off and wave people away from them, it’ll get their attention. Then File a suit for fraud.

  41. Whizzer says:

    I recall this technique from some radio advice guy regarding situations such as this: Gather up a bunch of children. Give each of them a chocolate ice cream cone. Go to dealer with kids and cones. Don’t make a big scene or loud demands, just grab a seat and let the children play amongst and in the vehicles until money is forthcoming.

  42. donovanr says:

    Small claims court, BBB, and the AG. Easy peasy. Make sure you call someone at the BBB and AG for complaint guidelines as they can be sticky about things like your complaint being a registered letter.

    A police commission I worked for would ignore your complaint if you sent us a video confession of a policeman saying he was a serial killer if you didn’t send it via a registered letter.

    Registered letter and voom they would kick into action.

    Plus why give any money until you had a deal in writing? With car dealers the last thing you do is give them money. The very last thing. Plus when negotiating set a time limit enter at 11am and say you are leaving at noon with a car or without a car. They will stall until around 11:45 when you tell them that they have 15 minutes left. I have done this and when I left at 12:01 they were nearly clinging to my leg like small children trying to get me to stay.

  43. trixare4kids says:

    Why should the OP have to waste him time going down there in person? Screw that. You don’t owe them ANYTHING. They need to return the money NOW.

    I would call up and tell them this: “I want my money and I want it today. You are not going to like it if I have to come down there in person. It will be with a large sign that says “LONG ISLAND CITY HYUNDAI WILL NOT RETURN YOUR DEPOSIT” or some such and I will stand on the sidewalk in front of your dealership all day. And yes, I will call the media and you better hope it’s not a slow news day.”

    Now, do you really want me to come down there or do you just want to return the money quickly and quietly? Your call, big boy.

  44. Mr Fife says:

    LOL! You actually TRUSTED a car salesman, with YOUR money?

  45. jayphat says:

    Easy. get a friend to go dressed as an attorney. Walk in. When he asks who this guy is, tell him he’s your attorney and there to make sure you get your money back. Sit back, profit.

  46. Shonky McShonk says:

    Stop pussy footing around and go back and tell them -DON’T ASK, tell them- you want you deposit back.
    Go back on a Saturday and each time they stall get louder and relay more details to the customers around you.
    I want my money back
    I want my money back from 3 weeks ago
    I want my money back that you’ve held hostage for 3 weeks.
    I want my money back since you would not deliver a price matched car.
    I want my money back as per NYS law and your own policy.

    Have NO discussion as to why you won’t get the car from them
    Stay focused on getting your money
    Bring a timer and set it for 3 minutes every time they walk away to get someone or look something up.
    When 3 minutes passes let it ring and start repeating your mantra, I WANT MY MONEY.

    Oh and have a friend bring a video camera, for youtube.

  47. gman863 says:

    Years ago, when I was an advertising rep for a radio station, I was pressured into putting a deposit on a new car. I told the dealership it was contingent on checking prices for the same car at his competitor, wrote it on the sales order and made the sales manager initial it before I handed over the check.

    The competitor’s net offer with trade was $1500 better. When I went to get my deposit back, the sales manager threatend to call his ad agency and cancel their contract with the radio station unless I bought their car at their price.

    My response was two words: “F^ck You”. I called my bank and stopped payment on the check. When I told my boss what happened, he laughed and gave me props for standing up for my rights.

    The dealership didn’t can cancel their advertising. They did, however, get a new sales manager a few weeks later.

    It’s rare, but once in a while there is Karma in the car business.

  48. MrAP says:

    My goodness, just go to the dealership! Most of the responses here are incredibly childish, on the level of stamping your foot. Yes, the manager is being a jerk. Grow up and rise above it. You take this to small claims court and you’re going to have the costs to file (which you don’t always get back in a judgement), you’re going to have to wait for a court date, and then you’re going to have to take the time to go in and plead your case. All of that, and for what? So you don’t have to spend the 1/2 hour down at the dealership? What point are you trying to prove? Just go down there, be courteous (despite how they might be treating you), and get your money back. I’ve dealt with so many similar situations and they generally turn out very well because I don’t go in there stamping my feet and acting like a child.

  49. thehammer says:

    Walk into the dealership and demand the deposit back. If they start to give you a hard time tell them (in a loud enough voice so lots of potential car buyers hear you) that this is theft and you would like them to be professional and return the money.
    They should give you the money immediately if not sooner as you will ruin a few sales for them.

  50. COBBCITY says:

    I was going to say this is easy. We left a $1000 deposit on your CC once a dealer refused to refund claiming they were keeping it! Within a day I had a chargeback done with my credit card company and that was the end of that. (Said dealer is now out of business… wonder why?)

    I can’t speak to the other $4500 from your bank account. Perhaps the bank was assist. However, I have never heard of a $5000 deposit on car without signing a thing.

  51. oldwiz65 says:

    Honest dealers are few and far between, regardless of what model car they are selling. You should never give them money until you have everything down in writing and signed by the dealer’s manager. I bought a new car 6 months ago, and I eliminated several dealers after simply walking into a showroom and talking to a salesman for 5 minutes. I got “this deal is only good today”, “My boss won’t go for this deal”, etc. You really need an attorney to look at whatever you signed to see if there is a way out.

  52. skakh says:

    The question must be – why leave a $5,000 deposit for a Hyundai? Most dealers may require, at the most, a $100 or so. This is one example of why consumers must be vigilant. The fact this dealer wanted, and got, $5,000 is a clear indication this is one dealer to avoid. Since the dealer has your money, you could be in for a bit of grief. Since it appears to be under $5,000, it is most likely eligible for small claims. If the dealer does not return, small claims is likely the best bet. Hiring a lawyer will be expensive. I would not go that route until small claims proves unsuccesful. The dealer will likely hold the money until the last moment, just before the small claims court date, and then send you a check. The BBB might help if the dealer actually cares about the BBB, which is not always the case. While the dealer may not care about the BBB, it most likely cares about possible sales. Therefore, I think the idea of waiting until a Saturday and then visit the dealer and use a loud voice to ask for your money back, in front of the customers. I have used that tactic in the past with dealers and it does work. Good luck.

  53. backinpgh says:

    You could just go meet with the dealer and give him some honest feedback on why you decided not to do business with him.

  54. WinHac says:

    I don’t understand why money was exchanged before everything was negotiated. An Elantra is not that hot of a car where you would have to hold one.

  55. madfrog says:

    If you really don’t want to go and face this guy, contact a local TV station- WCBS or WNBC, they have reporters that do just this kind of thing.

  56. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Your bank should have a process in place for disputing an EFT. You may even be able to start the dispute online though you should definitely talk to someone at the bank. You’ll probably need to submit the dispute in writing even if they initially give you the money back while conducting their investigation so don’t forget that part.

  57. failurate says:

    Why would someone put a deposit on a mass produced new car? If the one you picked out sells, so what? There is probably 100 identical ones for sale in a 50 mile radius. Or, if you can wait a week or three, you can get a fresh one spec’d just the way you want it right off the next truck.

  58. pot_roast says:

    Go in to see him… with a posse of very large, angry looking friends. Politely ask him to refund your deposit in cash, right there. Right now. Before he upsets you and your friends.

  59. Czarina says:

    Contact NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs: or call 311 and ask for them.

  60. peebozi says:

    New York law will never help this guy as much as the free market system will.

    I suggest he allow the free market to work this one out for him.

  61. patrick says:

    Thanks Don for leaving us enough info to find out just where Jack lives and where he works, now I can go hunt him down myself. lol. Just kidding, but I did manage to give Jack a call. If anyone else wants to help Jack learn to be honest call him personally 718.361.6900.

  62. trujunglist says:

    the easiest way to get your money back, and possibly more, is to go to the dealership on an extremely busy day and get VERY VERY VOCAL

  63. BurninAk says:

    Most people don’t understand that you will always get a better deal by financing. The dealerships get kick backs from the financing companies for giving them business. The smartest thing to do is apply for financing and then pay off the loan within 6 months. The amount you pay in interest will still easily be less than the extra you would have paid if you used cash, so long as you have any kind of bargain power. So long as you have good credit you can get just about anything you want at a good price. Taking out loans, having at least two credit cards, and a mortgage is the fastest way to a 800+ credit score. With a 800+ credit score they will beg you to buy things from them and offer you all kinds of deals.

  64. JeremyFelt says:

    Not being an apologist for the car dealership, but if you made the charge on your card, you will have to sign the void slip that states you originally authorized the charge and then requested the charge be voided. This is a fraud prevention thing.

    However, I feel that it is a trap and that you will be… encouraged to continue shopping there for a motorized product. Eff that. Go in, politely, firmly request your refund (and a receipt), and enjoy your afternoon.

    Also, Hyundai? You can do better with Scion, dude.

  65. Puddy Tat says:

    Give us his number so we can call him for you……

  66. Aaron Anderson says:

    Life stinks sometimes and you’ve gotta pull some weight to make up for the short comings of others. Call you bank and let them know what’s going on. Let them tell you how to handle it from that point of view. Then go to the dealer and get your money back. Go at a busy time and raise your voice in the lobby, not a lot, just enough to get people looking and asking questions. Then let it go. Let them know you’re in control. It will take some effort to be in control, but it’s worth it.

  67. says:

    You can contact an attorney, however, the only one that wins is the attorney. You want your money back and you deserve to get your money back. Not your money back less attorney fees. Call the bank ASAP, most banks can assist in handling a dispute. I would go to the dealership and ask for your money back and call the police if they refuse. They won’t want customers seeing another customer call the police. Just don’t get angry or aggressive. If they say they won’t give your money just go outside and call the police. The police will tell you that this is a civil matter but having them show up may show the dealership that you mean business. They will take all of your information and document it.

  68. skakh says:

    Simple question, why would anyone put down a deposit for a Hyundai? I have been buying cars for forty years and never even been asked for a deposit. No way would I give anyone money as a deposit, except for a house. No reputable dealer would ask for a deposit except when one orders something special.