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On the contract I signed for a used car it says I can only resolve my issues through arbitration. What can I do?

Stockton, CA |

I bought a Volvo from a used car lot on October 31, 2012. At signing, a due bill was written and signed by the dealership stating that they would fix some problems that I noticed. The first time the dealership took the car to be fixed, they had it for four days and none of the problems were fixed. Also, there we more problems with the car when it came back. It took four months for them to take the car again to get these problems fixed. They have had the car for five days now, and the dealership is hanging up on me and ignoring my calls. When I bought the car the airbag light was on. Later I found out the the airbag was faulty and needed to be replaced. Is the dealership breaking any laws? I have no idea what I can do.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

I agree with Mr. Sohn and appreciate the recommendation. This really does not seem like the folks want to treat you right and in doing so, have likely violated multiple laws. The "promise" to do certain things on the due bill may even be a warranty, arguably and if so, they then breached that warranty. It's entirely possible that they made other mistakes in your paperwork too. Feel free to contact my office or Mr. Sohn's for a free document review.


I'm sorry to hear about the problems you are having with this car. Based upon what you have said, it seems to me that you have the right to have the contract cancelled and get your money back. I won't go into the legal theories here; you should set up an appointment with a Lemon Law attorney in your area who can go over the documents and give you a better informed opinion. Most of us will do this at no cost.

Don't let the arbitration clause scare you off. An experienced attorney may be able to get this resolved without getting an arbitration or a lawsuit started.

I would recommend that you contact attorney Scott Kaufman, who is highly experienced and is, I believe, in your area. I expect you will see an answer from him to your question and then you'll have his contact information.

In the meantime, feel free to visit my website and read my blog for more information.

Best of luck!

--Doug Sohn


An arbitration clause does not always mean you can't sue. It depends on too many issues to discuss here.
You need to contact a local lemon law attorney for assistance. Many will give you a free consultation, and they often take such cases on a contingency.


Arbitration sucks. Period. What you can or can not do depends on what the arbitration clause says and if the buyer understood what it meant and a whole lot other things that are different in each state. The general rule, however, is that if the buyer signed an arbitration clause then you can not file a claim in court at all and you are stuck having to go through the arbitration process (and usually pay for it) and hope for the best. Think about arbitration this way: it's a private process where someone will decide who wins and who loses and they get paid to make that decision by guess who? usually the merchant business in the transaction. So, who do you think they will side with? You probably guessed it right. And how tough is arbitration on your legal rights? Well, for instance, if you sign a binding arbitration agreement to buy a car and on your way out to the car to drive it home, the salesman comes after you with a baseball bat, you can't sue in most states. You have to file for a secret private arbitration where no one publicly will find out what they did to you. And the arbitration clause may also limit what you can recover even if the other side is at fault or commits fraud on you by outright lies in order to rip you off. And if you have to hire an attorney to fight them in arbitration, the arbitration clause may say that you can't recover your attorney fees even if the law says you can. It's like playing with a stacked deck, which is one reason the game usually takes less time to play too. Less time in the process may sound good, but a bad result is still a bad result. Depending on the facts and on your local law, though, you may have a chance of getting out of the arbitration process, but it probably won't be easy. You need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case. Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, To avoid binding arbitration, never sign an arbitration clause at all. Just take your ink pen and cross it out. If the merchant business wants your money bad enough (and they usually do), they will still deal with you. If they won't, then you have every right to wonder what they have to fear about you being able to go to court against them. You can find out more about arbitration at this web page: You may have rights in your case, but act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give a “Vote Up” review below.

This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The law in your state may differ and your best answer will always come from a local attorney that you meet with privately. For a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers, click on this link ( and find one near you