Do you know what an “offer to purchase” is?

DATE: | Consumer bulletins

Have you ever gone into a dealership and after test driving a car or asking the dealer to bring in a specific model, you were presented with an “offer to purchase”?

The document might state terms and conditions about the purchase of the vehicle and require some sort of upfront payment. What is this document exactly?

Essentially, it’s a deposit contract under a different name.

If you sign an “offer to purchase”, you are signing a binding contract that usually states you are putting a deposit down in order to buy a vehicle under certain stated terms and conditions (such as the business needing to locate and bring in the vehicle to their location for you to inspect first before you buy).

As with any type of form or contract, whether it’s a deposit or a bill of sale, it is important to carefully read everything. If any document requires your signature, then it is important and should be read and understood before signing.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Print out AMVIC’s deposit agreement form and bring it with you the next time you go vehicle shopping, or use it as a guide on what to look for in the contract if the dealer has its own deposit form,
  • Read everything carefully including all footnotes and fine print before you sign,
  • Make sure to get in writing whether the deposit is refundable or non-refundable and under what conditions,
  • Get all promises, assurances and conditions down in writing,
  • Take your time and don’t rush into anything,
  • Call AMVIC’s Consumer Services department if you are unsure or need advice.

Although deposit and contract disputes will often be civil matters, AMVIC is able to investigate deposit-related complaints if there is evidence the consumer was misled or an unfair practice has occurred. For example, if the contract is overly harsh, excessive or one-sided, it could be a breach of Section 6(3)(c) of the Consumer Protection Act (formerly known as the Fair Trading Act).

Even if the Consumer Protection Act was not breached, AMVIC can still act as a mediator and attempt to facilitate alternate dispute resolution (ADR) between the consumer and the automotive business to find a mutually agreeable resolution. Since 2001, AMVIC has returned over $30 million to consumers through ADR.

You can file a complaint online here or call the Consumer Services department at 1-877-979-8100 ext. 2002 if you have any questions or concerns.

Read more about deposits on amvic.org.