A Louisiana dealership doesn't have to sell a new $32,000 pickup for less than it paid for it, even though the wrong price sticker was on the window.
'No sale was perfected because Interstate Dodge Inc. did not consent to a sale,' the Louisiana Court of Appeal said in its decision. A salesman at the Monroe, La., dealership had taken a check for $20,000 for full payment of the lower amount, the court said.
The appeals court also decided the buyers did not suffer any loss by relying on the salesman's alleged statements that they could have the truck for $20,000 cash. 'The rejection of their offer was quickly conveyed to them. Their check was never negated and therefore they never lost access to their funds,' the three-judge panel said.
Interstate President Dale Condra said, 'It wasn't a transaction. They didn't suffer anything.'
Here's what happened, according to the court:
In August 1998, Jack and Debbie Clampit saw a new 1999 Dodge Ram Quad Cab 4x4 on Interstate's lot. The window had both a Monroney sticker with the suggested retail price placed there by the manufacturer and the dealership's addendum sticker, which listed an adjusted market value price of $22,250. However, the addendum sticker belonged on an Intrepid but Interstate's porter mistakenly had placed it on the truck.
Jack Clampit said a salesman told him the salesman could cut $2,000 from the sticker price for a cash deal without his manager's approval, thus selling it for $20,000 and meeting his monthly sales quota. Clampit returned later that day, signed a so-called four-square document and handed over a $20,000 check.
But the general sales manager immediately realized the stock number belonged to an Intrepid and rejected the deal. Clampit refused to take the check back and told the manager the salesman had quoted the $20,000 price several times.
Clampit sued in Ouachita Parish District Court in Monroe, where Judge Marcus Clark ordered Interstate to carry out the contract and sell the pickup for $20,000.
The general sales manager testified that the Ram had cost the dealership $28,125. The appeals court reversed the lower-court decision, ruling that the salesman had no authority to accept the offer, something only Interstate's owner, new-car manager or used-car manager could do. 'Any offer he received was to be submitted to management for approval,' the court said.
In addition, the document Clampit signed was labeled clearly 'offer to purchase,' the court said.
Condra, the dealer, said he was 'absolutely astounded when we lost at the first level.' The original truck is no longer available, so if the appellate court hadn't overturned that ruling, 'we would have had to go to a comparable truck.'
Clampit's lawyer did not return phone calls seeking comment.
You can e-mail Eric Freedman at [email protected]