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Old 06.03.2012, 21:19
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Car purchasing contract validity - dirty dealer?

Hi all -

this is the first time I need to pose a question and not simply lurk around englishforum.

On the 21st of December, I went to a MB dealer for asking an offer for a C-coupé. There was a special 20% discount until the end of 2012 that made it very tempting added to an additional 15% employee discount (for a special deal btw my company and that particular MB branch). Total 35% discount.
I thought it was pretty good yet I was not sure I really liked the MB. On top of that, back then, I was still in my probation period (ended on January 2012).
As I was not sure about the purchase and also about my job situation, I did not want to sign the contract, yet in order to get the 35% discount the dealer suggested to sign the contract in December, contact him back by the end of January to confirm it or not. I asked several times whether in case I did not want the car in January, I would have had to pay a cancelation fee. He assured me several times it was not the case.

Now, the dealer did not speak proper English, I speak no German whatsoever (just landed) and I was having help from a friend of mine whose level of German is average. The contract was in German and I simply *trusted* the guy (HUGE ERROR).

I ended up signing the contract. The dealer also said that I had to pay a 5000CHF upfront payment to secure the purchase of the car in case I wanted it.

At the end of January, I have tried to call 3 times the dealer without being able to speak directly with the person I signed the contract with. On the second phone call, I asked to leave him a message to call me back. On the third phone call, I asked the person on the phone to leave him the message that I was NOT buying the car. My second mistake was NOT to ask a written confirmation.

Flash forward to these days - I have received a letter from MB and I called the dealer for asking explanations. Now, he's saying that I signed the contract and if I want to cancel it, I need to pay 15% of the car value. Note that, in the contract I had signed, the car value was 46KCHF and the same car sells now for 55K-60KCHF range (price difference due to the huge discount I got in my contract). Therefore, in my opinion, it won't be a problem for them to sell it for 46K CHF. Note also that the car has not arrived yet and its expected delivery time is July 2012.

I went and talked with the guy today (with the same friend I went with the first time and also with a native german speaker). My friend actually ordered the car from them a couple of weeks before I signed the contract.
When we tried to discuss with the dealer, he claimed that he did not receive any communication from me and that, as my probation period finished, I am now bound to buy the car. When he was asked about the upfront payment, he said that actually it was not mandatory and that they give the payment slip of all customers (not true - my friend did not get one). He also added that he tried to call me but he was not able to reach me (I can guarantee that I call back any missed calls - so I found it hard to believe this).

That's an incredible series of unfortunate events, together with a dealer that is trying to play dirty, and a couple of major mistakes on my side.

Now, granted the errors I already committed, what should I do next in order not to commit any others? Do I have any chance I can get out of this situation without paying the contract cancelation fee? The fact the contract was in German (I speak French and Italian but not German) could be used in my favor? The fact that I had a witness about the oral agreement we achieved, can it be used in my favor?

I am quite frustrated and disappointed... I thought I could trust sales guys here, but apparently they may be not much different than abroad.

Thanks a bunch to anyone who can give a sympathetic feedback/advice and sorry for the long post...
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Old 06.03.2012, 21:45
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Re: Car purchasing contract validity - dirty dealer?

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I am quite frustrated and disappointed... I thought I could trust sales guys here, but apparently they may be not much different than abroad.
I'm trying to be sympathetic but am having a hard time understanding how someone could sign a contract to buy a car without specifically seeing (having it translated) the full terms of cancellation and if you get your deposit back...seriously this is stunning.

I've been in more than 2 dozen countries and have never ever met a salesman that i would blindly trust...wow

For this, yes the salesman is dishonest as he got his commission and knew you didn't understand what you were signing, but that's not a defense for you. Get yourself a lawyer and make sure your friend is available as a witness.
They've got you over a barrel and with that contract you signed they have the right to pursue you for the full 10% of the breakage fee. Maybe a lawyer can draft a letter to the owner of the dealership, with copy to MB, outlining the dishonestly enough that will shame them to accept partial responsibility....but that's a hail mary at best

Good luck
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Old 06.03.2012, 21:48
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Re: Car purchasing contract validity - dirty dealer?

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if you get your deposit back...
just to clarify. The deposit should have been payed if I wanted the car. I did NOT pay the deposit and I did not get any solicitation letter...
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Old 06.03.2012, 21:50
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Re: Car purchasing contract validity - dirty dealer?

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just to clarify. The deposit should have been payed if I wanted the car. I did NOT pay the deposit and I did not get any solicitation letter...
Fine, I lost track of that part in the long post. Bottom line is they've got you good and you're not going to get out of it without some legal help
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Old 06.03.2012, 21:53
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Re: Car purchasing contract validity - dirty dealer?

Do they still offer the 20% discount? Maybe you can find somebody to take over the car for you?
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Old 06.03.2012, 22:00
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Re: Car purchasing contract validity - dirty dealer?

No, there is no 20% discount that I know of.
I am trying to work also in this direction to see if i can find someone to take over the contract.
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Old 06.03.2012, 22:05
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Re: Car purchasing contract validity - dirty dealer?

Hiring legal help will cost you, probably big portion of the 10% you owe them, or maybe the same?

Finding somebody to take over the car for you maybe it will be the best option money wise. -35% is good discount, should be easy.
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