Dear Driving for Dollars,

Six weeks ago, I signed a contract for a car. Five days later, I went back to the dealership and told them I couldn’t afford it. I returned the car and the dealer gave me back my trade-in. Now they just came and took away my car. Is that allowed?

— Trish

Dear Trish,

A case of buyer’s remorse with the dealer allowing you to simply return the car with no financial outlay is unusual. But if that is what happened, it sounds like there’s been a major mix-up. Do you have any paperwork that says the contract has been voided or canceled? Or is there something that says you returned the new car and received your old car back, free and clear? Getting things in writing is absolutely critical in situations of buyer’s remorse.

Carefully look over all your paperwork, including your original contract, for something that indicates you owe a specific amount. There may be a clause or condition in your original contract that outlines what happens in cases of buyer’s remorse. It is also possible that you still owe money to the dealer since it may be forced to sell the returned car at a reduced rate. Still, the dealership should have made that clear in writing and verbally when you returned the car.

Call the company that repossessed your car and ask its agents who gave the order (the dealer or the lender), then call that company and explain the situation, speaking to a manager. If your paperwork indicates you owe money, see if you can pay it right away and get your car back. If your paperwork does not indicate that you owe money, then speak to a manager at the repossession company to try to stop the sale of your car. Also, call the dealership to persuade management to release the car back to you. If you don’t find satisfaction, contact your state’s attorney general and file a complaint.

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