Let’s have some fun.
I call this game “Now You See It, Now You See It Again.”
When buying a car you sign a lot of papers – A LOT. When you are done signing, the salesman takes the stack of documents into the back office to make copies and brings your documents back all folded up nice and tidy placed in a fancy envelope ready for you to walk out to your brand new shiny car. You're relieved to never have to see them again. (Probably the documents and the salesperson.)
Well, guess what? I have never, NEVER, had a client come to me with all of the documents they signed when they bought the car. Why? Because the dealer didn’t give them all back, that’s why. Because the dealer doesn’t want you to later realize you signed a document that took away your rights, that's why. This is the “Now I See It, Now I Don’t” game. It's no fun.
Let's reinvent the game. It's fun! Share this game with all your friends and family. They’ll like it, too. Here’s how it goes. The next time you buy a car, take a pen (choose your favorite color), and as you are signing each page mark a sequential number on the bottom corner of each one. You know, 1-2-3-4-5…. Even mark the pages that you are shown but aren’t asked to sign. Then take a picture of the look on the dealer’s face. Post it on Facebook. Share the link with me so I can enjoy your moment, too.
But, the game isn’t over yet. Keep your camera handy. When the salesperson comes back with your documents folded up nice and tight in that fancy envelope, pull them all out with a twinkle in your eye and make sure you have all the pages. Oooops! Some are missing! And now come all the excuses. Blah blah blah. Whatever, whatever. Politely and firmly ask for the missing documents. Don’t leave until you have them. Then, walk out knowing you have won the game “Now I See It, Now I See It Again.” Streamers float down from the sky. If you're feeling generous, leave the pen with the dealer as a consolation prize.
True story. I was recently at a dealership helping a friend. He signed one document, ONE. I asked for a copy of the signed document and got the “yeah, sure” standard response. We wrapped up with the sales gal and I asked again for a copy of the signed document. “Oh yeah, I’ll get that for you.” We waited 15 minutes and when she walked by pretending not to notice us, I asked again. After a few minutes, she brought out a copy of the document, but – surprise – it wasn’t a copy of the signed document. She simply gave me a copy of the empty form. (What is it about "I want a copy of the signed document" that you don't understand, lady?)
I again asked for a copy of the signed document. I'm stubborn that way. She wasn’t happy and gave me that confused look. (Snap that picture now.) I stood my ground. Ten minutes later she brought out the original signed document. I wonder if they kept a copy?
Don’t underestimate the game. More often than not when I receive a dealer’s documents through discovery, there are several more documents in the dealer’s file than in the client’s file. And the client can’t remember having signed them or even seeing them. They are usually disclaimers or disclosures related to the exact same issue the client came to see me about in the first place. Sometimes those documents are even forged.
Remember your pen. Pick a cool color. Give one to a friend and share this post with them. They'll think you're kind of nuts and cool at the same time.
Alicia L. Hinton, Esq.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops.
Law Office of A.L. Hinton