The Elder Law Forum

The Elder Law Forum By Michael Myers We've all done it at one time or another. We purchased a car, or a dog, or a boat, or a house, or a piece of furniture we did not need, and the next morning we looked in the mirror and asked: �How could I have been so stupid?�

It�s called �buyer�s remorse.� Usually, it�s too late. But, occasionally if misrepresentation, duress, or intimidation is involved, the buyer may be able to �rescind� the contract, and return to his or her pre-purchase position.

�I haven�t been able to sleep for the past seven days with that car sitting in our driveway,� said a senior helpline caller. Her 78-year-old husband had returned home with a �gift� for her: a 2004 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, priced at $16,400 and saddled with $328 monthly payments for five years.

�He told the salesman he could only afford payments of $200 a month. But when he returned home with the paper work, the payments were $328,� she informed me.

The auto dealership had included an extended warranty in the sale. �We told them we didn�t want the extended warranty, but they said it was bank policy and it was a condition of the sale,� she said.

Earlier, the caller and her husband had returned the car to the auto plaza and walked off the lot despite threats from a salesman that he was going to call the police. The following day the same salesman drove the car to the caller�s residence, parking it on the street, with the keys in it, and the driver�s door unlocked.

A few days later, the salesman returned to the caller�s residence and moved the car onto the caller�s driveway despite being told not to. During that exchange the salesman falsely said he was being fired over the dispute.

I filed an on-line complaint with the Iowa attorney general, faxed a copy of the complaint to the dealership, and told the caller to again return the car to the dealership. I cautioned the dealership against threatening or intimidating the caller or her husband.

The following day an amicable general manager telephoned. �We accept the rescission and I will call the bank,� he said, adding that his mother was 78 years old and he understood how such a transaction could be confusing.

�I slept like a baby last night,� the caller said the next day.

(Pro bono legal information and assistance is available to persons 55 and older at USD Senior Legal Helpline, 1-800-747-1895; mmyers@usd.edu).

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