Here’s an email I got just now (names changed).
I need a little help. Well actually a lot of help. My friend got suckered into a TERRIBLE car deal. I mean bad. I don’t know all the details but I know he has a contract for 6 years on a $20,000 car with a APR of 17.something%, and that 1/3 of this monthly income will be spent on this car. Basically I have 2 problems.
1. My Friend is an IDIOT, and not just because he got suckered into a bad deal, that happens, but because he is too embarrassed to do anything about it. He thinks he will just trade it in to the same car dealership and get a cheaper car.
2. I don’t know enough about buying a car (I don’t own one because I cannot afford it right now) and am not familiar with possible legal recourse.
I am a pretty dedicated Ramit follower and have read your site for awhile. I told John (my moron friend) to contact a lawyer, and since I can’t do that for him, I am emailing you. He cannot afford to make these payments and to lose $15,000ish on interest (did I do the math right?) is ridiculous. This is highway robbery, and those car dealers are swine. They made him think when he was signing the papers that he could bring it back in 24 hours if he had second thoughts, and then when he did (I made him) they wouldn’t take the car back, saying that “That wasn’t what we meant”.
I know you don’t have time enough to solve everyones problems and you are not some kind of inexhaustible free resource, but if you can help, please let me know. I would be happy to return the favor in any way I can.
We have exchanged emails a few times in the past. Even if you don’t remember, I did follow through with your advice. It was prolly 6 months ago, and I should have followed up with you. Lesson learned. Now I follow up.
Every paragraph has something super-interesting in it.
I find it interesting how we get embarrassed by our money mistakes and we don’t want to talk about them. I’m not pointing fingers–I’ve done it before, too. Rationally, in this case, it would make sense for this guy to ask for help. In fact, it could save him thousands of dollars. But the social pressures to appear knowledgeable exact a surprisingly high cost.
Finally, does anyone have any advice for him? I have no idea, so I just suggested that his friend see a lawyer ASAP.