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Private Car Purchase – Reliance on Verbal Advertisements

By neo - 15 July 2014 38

Recently I’ve bought a used car from a lady in Jerrabomberra. It’s a BMW 320i 2009. The car was registered under her company name.

When I inspected the car, she said the car was equipped with a CD stacker. I believed her and did not test that. After I bought the car, I tried to load CDs into the CD stacker and could not do it.

I texted her to ask about that: “Hi R I don’t know how to load CDs into the CD stacker. The manual says the stacker is in the luggage area but I couldn’t find it. How did you do it. Thanks”

She replied to me: “Hey! I never used it, but you feed them into the dash. I think you push 1, load cd. Then push 2, & load cd and so on”. I kept the SMS on my phone as evidence.

I tried again but failed to load CDs in so I called her. On the phone she once again confirmed that the CD stacker was a standard feature of this BMW. Unfortunately I did not record this conversation.

Finally, after consulting with a BMW dealer, it turned out that the car did not have a CD stacker. They quoted me $2,500 to install it.

The lady refused to pay for that. She said she was not liable because she did not advertise it on the website. However, I know that in commercial law, verbal advertising counts. Therefore she has to be responsible for what she told me at the car inspection.

I brought the case to NCAT but at the hearing they dismissed my application because that was a private sale, not a car dealer sale. They told me that I had to lodge it at civil court.

Now the only proof that I have is the SMS between me and her. I am wondering if the SMS is strong enough to support me. It’s highly appreciated if anybody who had the same experience or know about commercial law could give me some advice. I also want to know what is the procedure and cost to apply this case to local civil court. Thank you very much.

What’s Your opinion?

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38 Responses to
Private Car Purchase – Reliance on Verbal Advertisements
Felix the Cat 10:02 am
15 Jul 14

Just buy an in-dash CD player from Super Cheap Auto/other car accessory outlet for $100 and be done with it mate.

davo101 10:34 am
15 Jul 14

You really do need to speak to a lawyer.

On the other hand the 90’s are on the phone and want their CD stacker back. Go and get yourself a mechless stereo, they are far cheaper, you can fit a lot more onto a USB stick than you can in a stacker, and there’s nothing mechanical to go wrong.

Holden Caulfield 11:22 am
15 Jul 14

Buyer beware?

Taking this to a civil court, lol.

justin heywood 11:47 am
15 Jul 14

neon, have you considered the idea that she may genuinely have believed it had a CD stacker?

You said that the car’s manual described it. She said she had never used it (understandably, as it’s pretty old tech now).

I’m sure my car has one, but I’ve never used it either. If I was selling it, I too might say that it had one, but I wouldn’t dig out my old CDs to check, as it’s not a major feature of a car for most people. And the fact that you’re asking full freight ($2,500) seems a bit much for what was quite possibly an honest mistake.

My advice would be to walk away and check it yourself next time. Once you get the lawyers involved, you’ve already lost.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 12:26 pm
15 Jul 14

Is this for real?

davo101 12:38 pm
15 Jul 14

justin heywood said :

My advice would be to walk away and check it yourself next time. Once you get the lawyers involved, you’ve already lost.


Once the lawyer says hello it’s already cost you more than just sucking it up.

John Moulis 12:38 pm
15 Jul 14

If you are buying a BMW I would have thought that a CD player is the last thing you want. Buy an Alpine radio/USB, put the songs onto the USB stick with your ‘puter or else plug your iPod into the jack. This is much safer and less of a driving hazard because you don’t have to change CDs or cassettes all the time. I use 8GB USB sticks which contain around 800 songs. When it comes to an end (after several months) it begins playing from the start again. Both hands on the wheel at all times.

bd84 12:44 pm
15 Jul 14

Build a bridge and get over it?

The $2500 sounds like a BMW dealer quoted price to install an new unit, so the realistic price of the unit (a second hand 2009 or other name brand unit) is probably in the vacinity of $200 at most. Which if you were successful (and I doubt you would be) would outweigh the cost of going to court over something that represents about 0.008 percent of the value of the car.

dungfungus 1:29 pm
15 Jul 14

Only $2,500 for a BMW CD stacker?
Having owned a BMW this sounds like the cheapest spare part there is.
Hope you have deep pockets to keep the beemer running. They are almost expensive as house rates in Canberra.

Mysteryman 1:37 pm
15 Jul 14

I agree with the others. I would have laughed at you if I received an SMS asking for $2500. You should have checked before you bought, especially if it was such an important point for you. It sounds like the seller made an honest mistake and you’re being a pedant about it.

I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know the law relating to private sales, but I sincerely hope they don’t leave the seller hung out to dry in this situation.

tim_c 4:13 pm
15 Jul 14

A verbal advertisement (like a verbal contract) is only worth as much as the paper it’s written on.

It would seem a bit odd that a 2009 BMW wouldn’t have at least a single CD player in it – even my 2001 Toyota has one of those from the factory (higher spec models had a stacker)!

Seriously, with a private car sale/purchase, there is no warranty – you really have to check everything carefully before you buy. Everything. Everything includes all the lights, controls, gadgets, everything that opens and closes – especially with those European cars where every little thing imaginable (and some others that go beyond the reasonable imagination) is electrickery, and usually very expensive to fix (even a light not working may not be as simple as changing a blown globe) – that’s one reason why those European cars are so cheap to buy second hand.

justin heywood 4:54 pm
15 Jul 14

tim_c said :

….. that’s one reason why those European cars are so cheap to buy second hand.

True. You’ve got to feel for those young P-Platers driving around in old BMWs. They seem like great value, but they are in for a shock when something goes wrong.

Jclarke 6:25 pm
15 Jul 14

Don’t bother, you’re wasting your time. Get an USB and plug it in, if you have USB in the car, then you’re set. the woman ain’t worth your money and court time

Earl 6:28 pm
15 Jul 14

Maybe you should stick to buying new cars from the dealer, I thought most adults would realise private sale=buyer beware? Private sale means it doesn’t matter if she said it was a Lamborghini Aventador with a flux capacitor installed, the onus is on you to be satisifed with the vehicle.

I suppose you are going after her because the car was owned by the company? Either way, quite an effort to waste so much of your life on an outdated piece of kit!

farnarkler 7:28 pm
15 Jul 14

Been there, done that purchasing an electronic gizmo. Certainly pays to do your homework.

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