Thursday, July 20, 2006
Help Me Howard: Car
A Broward mom is furious after her 16-year-old son was sold a car without a parents consent. On top of that the car is missing several key parts. Are they stuck with it. Here is the answer from Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--Like a lot of kids, Justhin is working this summer.
Justhin Thompkins: "Pshhhh, a whole lotta sweating, hard workin' in the sun, a lot. A whole lot, cutting grass every day man, even on the weekend. From sun down to sun up."
The good news, he's made almost a thousand dollars.
The bad news, the 16-year-old spent it on a car.
Justhin Thompkins: "To get back and forth from work and school."
Justhin didn't buy the car from a car dealer, instead it was from someone he trusted who runs a repair business and sells cars on the side.
Justhin Thompkins: "Well actually he's kind of like a friend to the family. Him and my dad is like real cool. So I figured that I could trust him."
The car was delivered to their home and when Barbara saw what her son had done -- well, lets put it this way -- she didn't start doing handstands.
Barbara Thompkins: "I don't know anything about cars, but as soon as the hood was lift up I got a instant migraine."
That's because a few parts are missing from this gem.
Like car keys and a radiator.
In fact, it had to be towed to their house.
But the so-called "family friend" said don't worry, he would fix it.
Justhin Thompkins: "He just told me all the car needed was a radiator and a fan in it, and that he would come over here today and get the car running for me."
But Barbara didn't want her son spending $900 for a clunker. So she called the seller.
Barbara Thompkins: "He doesn't even have a drivers license, he can not buy a car, he can't get insurance, why did you do this? You now this is no good."
The car salesman said, too bad, the sale was final because Justhin had signed the paperwork."
Barbara Thompkins: "Justhin said he never signed anything. He's like mom, one thing you used to say is mom, you always told me to never just sign any papers."
So wondering if they are stuck with a car bought by a 16-year-old, they called Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "No they are not. The law recognizes that in most cases a minor lacks the ability to enter into a binding contract -- whether its written or verbal. So if you are under 18, you can change your mind about any purchase that is not a necessity. and in most cases, get out of the deal and get your money back."
When Help Me Howard called the so-called dealer, he said he would try to sell the car to someone else and then refund the money to Justhin.
When we explained the law to him and pointed out he is required to return the money whether he sells the car or not, he got mad and hung up on us.
And we suspect we know why.
Turns out he does not have a license to even sell cars.
And Howard says that is one way to get the state after you.
Howard Finkelstein: "It appears this guy is breaking the law because if you sell more than 3 cars a year, you have to have a license through the department of motor vehicles. If you sell without this license, you could face fines of $500 and sixty days in jail."
We have put Barbara in touch with the division of motor vehicles to get her complaint investigated.
Meantime, she is disappointed that her son's first big purchase came from a guy like this who is now bragging about ripping off a 16-year-old.
Justhin Thompkins: "So he just said basically that he got my money, and there nuttin' I can do about it."
Patrick Fraser: "Now Howard said while minors can get out of a contract if the purchase is for a non-essential item, like a car bought for fun, they are stuck with essentials. In other words if you but things like clothes, food, school supplies, you pay for it. It's yours."
Got a minor problem? It's major to us. Give us a call. We'll come at it with the energy of a teenager and the wisdom of a -- OK, all the energy of a teen.
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