Can I Change Cars Once I've Paid a Deposit?

The purchase contract locks you in to buying the exact vehicle specified, so make sure you get all the details right before signing

The purchase contract locks you in to buying the exact vehicle specified, so make sure you get all the details right before signing

QUESTION

I think that I may have an issue with my Hyundai Santa Fe purchase. I made the deposit almost two weeks ago but I have not yet received confirmation on a delivery date. I specified that I must have a 2015 complied AND 2015 built model.

I called on Tuesday to state that I wanted to change from the Sleek Silver colour to White. This should have meant a drop of $595 in price (by going from a $595 premium metallic finish to a standard finish, as specified in the Hyundai price list). The salesman however has now told me that I most likely won't get a reimbursement of the $595 as some will now be taken as a delivery cost. I am quite angry at this, as why should I not receive a refund of the additional amount if I now want a cheaper vehicle? He said that he would get back to me in a couple of days while he checks where he can source the vehicle from. 

I plan on calling him tomorrow as I have two issues: 

  1. I have no confirmation or defined delivery date, even for the original Sleek Silver model that I placed the order for. 
  2. It appears that the delarship, Ferntree Gully Hyundai (ironically I read an article of yours today about a dodgy customer service experience encountered by an i45 owner) are trying to price gouge me based upon not wanting to refund me an amount for the paint colour chosen. 

I am actually no longer confident in dealing with them, and your article on the i45 fills me with no confidence. 

Is there an ACCC equivalent for the motor industry that I can get involved if I cannot get satisfaction from the dealer? Am I within my rights to cancel the order and seek my $500 deposit to be refunded based upon any of the above items?

Thank you,
Shane

Most manufacturers charge a premium - $500 or more (in the case of German cars, often a lot more) - for premium paint. Generally this means metallic paint. Colour palettes are often like the one above: white (top left) is the only non-premium colour. Every other colour costs you more...

Most manufacturers charge a premium - $500 or more (in the case of German cars, often a lot more) - for premium paint. Generally this means metallic paint. Colour palettes are often like the one above: white (top left) is the only non-premium colour. Every other colour costs you more...

ANSWER

My view on this is: you signed a contract to purchase a particular car. A silver one. Now you don’t want that car; you want a completely different car. A white one. The contract locks you in to the deal, and if you back out, the deposit will be forfeited - this is what will almost certainly happen if you go to war with them. 

There’s no consumer group on earth that will advocate for you here, because you’re the one throwing the curve-ball at the dealership. Presumably, they’ve put through an order to purchase that silver car. They’re contractually obliged to take delivery of it from Hyundai - basically, they’ve already agreed to purchase it.

(Bear in mind the dealership is an independent business with a franchise, not an extension of Hyundai Motor Company Australia, which imports the vehicle. The retailer - dealer - is purchasing it from Hyundai the wholesaler/importer. The dealership has essentially just done exactly what you’ve done in respect of purchasing the vehicle, one step up the food chain.)

This business about delivery dates: These are always approximate. I don’t understand how this fits into the 'refund' equation. You’re imposing this build and compliance date restriction on them. You're saying: Must be built in 2015. So, right now we are three weeks in to 2015, and you made your decision and paid the deposit one week into 2015. The car needs to roll off the line in Ulsan, get on a boat, sail to Australia, get off the boat, go through customs, get on a truck, arrived at wholesale distribution, be prepped, and get sent to a dealership. Significant underlying logistics there - plenty of potential hiccups. Hence: approximate delivery dates. 

Generally these late-breaking changes can be resolved by negotiation. However, ‘negotiation’ means that both sides concede a little. Basically, let’s not forget, you’re the one whose fucking them around, not vice-versa. They’re the ones you are asking to accommodate an extra-contractual request that will involve some cost and inconvenience to them. So perhaps you should be prepared to cop half of it on the chin ($300) and perhaps they might slip you $300 back. If you back out of the deal now and order a white one, presumably from another dealership, all you will save is $95 - and you’ll have to wait additional weeks to get it. 

My other take on this is: you’re not talking about the national debt mate. It’s one per cent of the purchase price, depending on the model. Is it really worth donning the chain mail and sharpening the broadsword for such a comparatively chickenshit amount?

Just be nice to them. Go face to face, not over the phone. Tell them you want to be a happy, repeat customer, you’ll get the car serviced there, blah, blah, blah. Ask them to help you by accommodating this late-breaking change to the deal. Apologise for throwing them a curve-ball. (Because you are, and if you behave like an asshole it’s going to cost you $500.)

Sorry - I know this isn’t what you want to hear. But I don’t do PR - I tell people what I think.

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