Jewish World Review Nov. 3, 2000 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761
Getting your money back is enough
DEAR BRUCE: I bought a used car last week from a dealer who I know to be reputable. After I bought the car, I ran the vehicle identification number on the Internet and found out that the speedometer was about 50,000 miles lower than it was six months ago. Obviously someone has been spinning the odometer. I took it back to the dealer and he sincerely apologized, saying that he bought the car wholesale, and he had no way of knowing. He would give me a full refund in cash or apply it toward another car, and I would get credit for the sales tax that I had paid on this car. Do you think that I am entitled to more? After all, he wasn't supposed to sell me a car with a changed odometer. -- L.Z., via e-mail
DEAR L.Z.: It seems to me that the dealer is acting quite honorably. The likelihood is that what he is telling you is true. He picked up this piece wholesale, had no reason to believe that the odometer was spun, and sold it to you in good faith. When you brought this to his attention he immediately offered to make restitution. I don't see where you could ask for anything fairer. I don't believe that for the day or two that you owned the car you are entitled to something extra.
DEAR BRUCE: Maybe you can settle an argument for my wife and me. I know you like old cars and have collected a few. I have always wanted to acquire an older car and restore it. It would be a little bit of a strain on our budget, but these cars have no where to go but up. My wife says that she doesn't feel that with kids and a mortgage and very little in savings, we can afford this kind of a luxury. I keep trying to tell her that this is an investment, but she won't hear of it. -- L.W., via e-mail
DEAR L.W.: You are correct when you say that I like old cars, and yes, I have a couple. You are very much misinformed, however, if you think that just because they are old, they are going to be worth more money. The hard facts are that in most cases it's cheaper to buy a completely restored car than to do it yourself. More often than not, the guy who restores the car and wants to turn it into cash will have to accept a whole lot less than what he has in the car. Collecting, restoring and driving old cars is a fun hobby if you can afford it. But if you think that you are going to come out ahead on this, you're wrong.
Maybe you can compromise and buy an old piece that is not in the classic category, so it wouldn't cost very much. You can practice restoring it. It's a fun activity, and if you do all of the work yourself, your major investment will be your time. After the kids are a little older and your income increases, you may be able to be more serious in your collecting.
DEAR BRUCE: I have been using the same dry cleaner for a number of years. I took a suit there for cleaning and when it came back, it looked like someone threw bleach on it.
When I showed it to the cleaner, he was very apologetic and offered me $50 in cleaning or $30 in cash. I almost choked. It's true that the suit is about six years old, but it was really my only good suit. I paid over $100 for it, and I really don't want to go out and buy another one, since I don't wear the suit very often. I think he should replace it. We both have agreed to let you be the judge. -- C.L., Oklahoma City, Okla.
DEAR C.L.: I have to come down with the cleaner on this one. I understand that this was your best suit, but the fact is that it was, although good, many years old. Clothes that old have relatively little value. If you use the cleaner fairly often, take the higher amount in cleaning. You are going to save these dollars, even if it's over a period of a
Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).
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