Found a car at a dealership, negotiated price, paid dealership for car, they accepted and deposited my funds (part cashiers check, part credit card charge). After I had paid in full they said, "We're not selling you the car."

Is it legal for a dealer to cancel a sale after accepting and depositing payment in full?

(This was in Connecticut. They refunded the money and did not sell us the car.

  • For what reason did they cancel the sale? Surely you asked why.
    – A.fm.
    Mar 28, 2020 at 6:45
  • If you accepted the refund, they can, so if you want to fight this, don't accept the refund.
    – user6726
    Mar 28, 2020 at 15:44
  • @user6726 credit card refunds may not need acceptance. Then, taking the money back does not by itself mean agreement to cancel the contract.
    – Greendrake
    Mar 28, 2020 at 23:18
  • "Acceptance" is different from "receipt".
    – user6726
    Mar 28, 2020 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


Illegal (breach of contract).

They are legally bound to hand to you the car. You owe them the money (you do now again as they refunded it). This is the case since the moment you agreed on a negotiated price, not even since you actually paid.

Talk to them and let them know you are going to get a lawyer to apply for a court order to enforce the sale, in which case they would have to foot your lawyer's bill too.

Note that even if you change your mind and not want the car anymore, they also might change their mind and get the sale finalized through the court. You are both bound by what you agreed unless you both agree otherwise — this is how contract law works.

  • 3
    A court would probably not order specific performance (unless the car is unique or very rare) but the buyer would be entitled to damages equivalent to the cost of sourcing an equivalent car.
    – Dale M
    Mar 28, 2020 at 0:02
  • 1
    Second @DaleM 's comment. Also, OP and the dealer were not legally bound "since the moment [OP] negotiated price." If all one does is negotiate, such negotiations can go on indefinitely without binding anyone once they conclude. What binds the parties is coming to an agreement.
    – A.fm.
    Mar 28, 2020 at 6:43
  • @A.fm. A price that has been negotiated already is an agreement. If negotiations are still ongoing, nothing has been negotiated yet.
    – Greendrake
    Mar 28, 2020 at 7:06
  • That sentence in your answer would be more clear, then, if you said "... since the moment you agreed on a negotiated price..." As it's written, it does not convey that you mean "A price that has been negotiated."
    – A.fm.
    Mar 28, 2020 at 7:09

It cannot even be voided before payment was tendered. Once you have a contract, both sides are bound by the contract, and it can only be voided with mutual agreement (there are exceptions like contracts involving minors).

(The payment is obviously very good evidence that both sides agreed to the contract. If you hand over the money and the dealer accepts it, that's 100% proof that there was a contract. In other situations, it might be difficult to prove that there was a contract).

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