What do you do when the dealer refuses to sell you the car at the advertised price?
Can you sue? YES
PLAINTIFF’S ATTEMPT TO PURCHASE THE RANGE ROVER FALLS WITHIN THE CONSUMER FRAUD ACT
The plaintiff attempted to purchase a Range rover is a covered by the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act defines a covered transaction as follows The term “sale” shall include any sale, rental or distribution, offer for sale, rental or distribution or attempt directly or indirectly to sell, rent or distribute. NJSA 56:8-1(e) (emphasis added)
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act defines advertising as follows:
The term “advertisement” shall include the attempt directly or indirectly by publication, dissemination, solicitation, endorsement or circulation or in any other way to induce directly or indirectly any person to enter or not enter into any obligation or acquire any title or interest in any merchandise or to increase the consumption thereof or to make any loan. NJSA 56:8-1(a)(emphasis added)
It is clear that a simple reading of the New Jersey statute mandates that this transaction, although not completed, falls within the coverage and/or ambit of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. This is true based on a simple reading of the statute as well as a policy consideration underlying the said statute.
Initially, the statute clearly says that a sale contemplates an offer for sale of a particular piece of merchandise. Consistent with this the definitional section of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act defines an advertisement as an attempt directly or indirectly by publication… to induce directly or indirectly any person to enter or not enter into an obligation… See N.J.S.A. 56:8-1(a),(e). Thus a very simple reading of the statute indicates that the plaintiff’s transaction should be covered even though it was not completed.
This is consistent with the policy considerations of a liberal underpinning of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The policy considerations underlying the Consumer Fraud Act cannot permit dealers or other business entities to advertise particular goods at an extremely low price and then when customers respond to this advertisement the dealers renege and are beyond the reach of the law.
This reading of the statute would only encourage unconscionable deceptive conduct rather than prohibit same. What if a selling dealer were to place an advertisement for all vehicles on their lot to be sold at $1. Obviously there would be a plethora of people who responded to this advertisement for vehicles to be sold at $1, and then when the people appeared at the dealership the dealership simply said that was a mistake or that was not the valid price. Clearly there must be some sort of detriment to a dealer or other business entity engaging in such a conduct. To interpret the Consumer Fraud Act to require a completed transaction would be contrary to the policies and the underlying interpretation of the Act.