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Cool Off Before Making Big Purchases

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So you’ve done your research on a new (brand new or just new to you) car, you’ve negotiated a great price with the salesman, and you’re about to put your signature on a piece of paper that would make you the owner of that new car. However, before you pull the trigger, walk away for a few days, cool off, and seriously think about it. If you still want to make the purchase after your own personal cooling off period, sign the dotted line!

There’s a popular misconception that there’s a federal law allowing you a 3 day cooling off period after you sign a contract. Within that three day window, you’re allowed to withdraw yourself from the obligation of fulfilling that contract and the law would let you off the hook for any bad decisions you may have made and found yourself regretting later. In actuality, the cooling off rule is very specific in where it applies. First, the purchases need to be over $25. Secondly, the purchase must be made away from the vendor’s typical place of business (clearly marked temporary sales location count as “typical” in this case, so a temporary dealership location) or in the consumer’s home. Lastly, there are a whole slew of little exceptions and other associated rules (the vendor has to let you know of these rights before you buy anything, etc.) that must be taken into account as well. The original intent of the rule was to protect consumers from the high pressure sales tactics of door to door salesman.

Now, based on those rules, if you go to the car dealership and buy a car then the cooling off rule doesn’t apply. You’re on the hook for that purchase and you can’t change your mind about the vehicle. Your only defense against high pressure sales tactics is if you build in your own cooling off period before you make a purchase. The salesman will try to tell you that the offer they gave you is a limited time offer (it’s not) or that they have a limited supply (they don’t), but don’t buckle. Walk away for three days and if the decision still seems sound to you, go back and sign the paper… he or she will still be there.

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4 Responses to “Cool Off Before Making Big Purchases”

  1. SavingWithMe says:

    In the past I have driven cars until they died. So when that happens I have at most a week to find a car and of course I am rushed. My goal for the next car I buy: Not to be in a hurry to get a car ASAP because I let the old one die. I have done well in the past and not regretted any of my car purchases but it is not fun shopping knowing I need to make a decision very quickly. Good advice in the post!

  2. Patrick says:

    I just added my wife to my Verizon cell phone plan (she just ended her contract with another provider). Then I remembered the Sprint SERO deal still going on, so I went back to Verizon and cancelled the contract. The Sprint deal is really good, especially if you want a data plan.

    Luckily, Veriazon has a 30 day window where you can cencel without any fees or penalties. I only paid the pro-rated expense of the additional line (3 days). However, not all places do this. It’s always a good idea to check!

  3. Mrs. Micah says:

    Whenever it comes to high-pressure sales, like cell phones for me, I always feel awful before, during, and after. I wonder if one can put a cell phone contract on hold easily.

    The last time we got new phones and plans I was more prepared, though. DH and I discussed them beforehand, figured out what plan we wanted, what phones we wanted (the ones that were $15 after rebate), everything. Then we presented a united front and didn’t go for add-ons like messaging, more minutes, anything like that. I think having a shopping partner also helps keep one level headed.

    My dad would go to dealerships, look through cars, test drive, work out the price, everything. Then he’d come home and take us all back the next day to try out the car he liked. If we liked it too, he and Mom would sign the contract. That was probably his way of cooling off.

  4. LA ACTOR HEADSHOTS says:

    GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS OF HIGH PRESSURE SALES IS MORE THAN ANNOYING, IT CAN BE DOWNRIGHT IMMORAL !! . MY FATHER (R.I.P.) WAS A CAR SALESMAN WHO WOULD ONLY FOLLOW GOOD MORAL WAYS. (AS A SALESMAN HE WAS KNOWN AS A SUPERSTAR!) . HE ADVOCATED PEOPLE DECIDING OVER A LONGER PERIOD WHICH CAR THEY WANTED (REMINDING THE CUSTOMER THAT A NEW CAR WAS A MAJOR PURCHASE) GIVING OUT HIS BUSINESS CARD AFTER MAKING OUT CONTRACTS WITH THIS ADVICE PAID OFF (IN THE LONG RUN) FOR HIM. . PEOPLE APPRECIATED HIS HONESTY,( AND LOW-NO PRESSURE) APPROACH AND REPEAT COSTUMERS RETURNED TIME AND AGAIN TO BUY FROM HIM. (SOMETIMES BUYING FROM HIM AT A DIFFERENT LOT AND DIFFERENT MAKE OF CAR) TODD


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