Because of recent changes in Pennsylvania law, some car buyers may now be able to cancel a sale and return a vehicle to a dealership within three days of purchase. Contrary to popular belief, there was previously no right to return a vehicle within three days, but this is now possible in Pennsylvania under very specific circumstances.
A three-day right to cancel a purchase exists under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, but only applies to sales involving either telephone or in person contact with the buyer at home. Very few car sales took place at homes because documents for vehicle purchases have to be notarized, which meant that the purchaser and the notary would have to be in the same room. The telephone or in person requirement effectively excluded car purchases from the three-day right to return in all but a small number of cases.
The in-person requirement for notaries was recently changed. For 60 days starting on April 20, 2020, documents can be notarized without the notary in the same room as the signer if the notary can communicate with the signer by both sight and sound to verify identity. This now allows vehicle purchases in Pennsylvania to take place at a purchaser’s home.
If a vehicle was purchased through dealership contact with the purchaser at the home either in person or by telephone, that vehicle sale is likely within the terms of Pennsylvania’s three day right to return law. The three-day return law only covers in person or telephone contact but not contact by internet. If the purchase is conducted entirely through the internet without any phone contact whatsoever, then the three-day return rule probably does not apply. If, however, at least some of the contact with the dealership that resulted in the purchase was by phone at the purchaser’s home, then the purchaser would have a right to cancel the sale within three days.
To cancel the sale, the purchaser must notify the seller in writing within three business days of the purchase and either return the vehicle to the seller or make the vehicle available for return in its original condition. The seller then has 10 business days to refund the payments, return any trade vehicle and cancel any finance agreement.
For a vehicle purchase within the terms of Pennsylvania’s three day return law, the seller is required to provide a statement in the sales contract about the right to cancel and attach a “Notice of Cancellation” form to the contract that states the last date on which the purchaser can cancel the sale. The seller must also inform the purchaser at the time that the contract is signed of the right to cancel.
Importantly, the three-day cancellation period does not start until the seller provides the notices of the right to cancel to the purchaser. This means that if the dealership did not give the required notices, the purchaser could have much longer than 3 business days to cancel the sale.
The key here is that the vehicle sale must come under the three-day return law by involving some contact by telephone. The telephone contact must take place at the purchaser’s home, but there is no requirement that the call take place over a landline. A call on the purchaser’s cell phone while the purchaser is at home would be sufficient. To exercise the right to cancel, the vehicle must be in the same condition that it was in at the time of the sale, and the purchaser must notify the seller of cancellation, preferably in writing.
While the three day right to return only applies to vehicle sales involving phone contact within 60 days of April 20, 2020, this is an extremely useful way to get out of a bad car purchase. If you believe that your car purchase comes under the terms of the three day right to cancel law and a dealership is refusing to cancel the sale, contact Roseman Law Firm at 800-745-5259 or www.helpforlemoncars.com to discuss your potential rights.