A Case of Seller Beware

We all know the saying  “buyer beware,” but sometimes it’s also “seller beware”.

Drew Silvers, sold a Ford Explorer on Craigslist only to end up in court over it. He did win but it’s an odd story.

The Sale

The Explorer was ten years old and had 90,000 miles on the clock.  It had no problems until about a month before posting it on Craigslist when the “check engine” light popped up due to a misfire. Turned out to be the DPFE (emissions device) and it was replaced. I drove the car every day for about a month without problems until someone finally emailed me about it.

The guy offered less than the selling price but I needed to sell the car so I accepted. During this time, I had my paperwork laid out on my coffee table, which included a receipt from the recent DPFE repair, the title to the vehicle, and two copies of an “as-is” bill of sale for us each to sign and keep. My friend counted the buyer’s $3,300 cash, the buyer and I each signed both copies of the bill of sale, and the title. He went on his way for me to never see him again… Or so I thought…

An Unhappy Customer

A couple of days later, I  received a long, irritated ramble about how he was driving “my” car and it started skipping, choking, shaking, and running extremely rough. I sent him an email back and said it didn’t make any sense to me because I had been driving it just fine for about a month before hand.

Emails and constant phone calls continued and he told me to do the “right thing” and take the car back or reimburse him for the money he had spent on it so far, but I didn’t respond to him.

About three months later a letter came in the mail from the magistrate court in my county. He was suing me over the Explorer.

My witness and I headed to magistrate court. The guy made the mistake of changing his case from claiming damages to fraud. That meant the magistrate couldn’t hear the case and she had it transferred to the Supreme Court much to the surprise of the buyer. I assumed the problem was over.

About a month later I received a trial notice in the mail from Clerk of the Superior Court in Atlanta. The buyer had followed through and still had no attorney as his listing was filed under “pro-se”. The date was subsequently changed and the final trial date was set for about a year after selling him the Explorer.

I went to court with my witness. The trial started and went exactly as I had thought and the buyer blamed me for selling him what he called a “fraudulent vehicle”, he called his girlfriend to the witness stand who really had nothing to say. The buyer had taken the Explorer to a Ford dealership and had them itemize everything which was not in new condition on the car and the “repair” total to bring it back to showroom condition was a hair over $10,000, which is the amount he was trying to push on me on top of the criminal charge. When it was my turn I did put the buyer on the witness stand and asked him about the “as-is” bill of sale he had signed, which he denied and said he wouldn’t ever put his name on such a thing. Then I took my copy of the bill of sale as well as the return receipt that he had signed when I changed the court date a few months before. I handed both of those documents to the judge so he could compare and he became even more angry and said “I’m no handwriting expert, but…please step down from the stand and take your seat.”

The judge told the buyer that he had no case, was well aware that the “as-is” bill of sale was legitimate, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because the state of Georgia falls under the “buyer beware” rule. We were then angrily asked to leave the court room as the judge’s face turned a nice red hue…

Be careful when buying or selling and always keep the correct documentation.

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