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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 63258
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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On a Friday night, 2 weeks ago, I paid a £500 deposit for a

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On a Friday night, 2 weeks ago, I paid a £500 deposit for a car to a main dealer, not having seen the car and it is nearly 300 miles away. After that weekend I had second thoughts after trying my friend's similar model, and decided that it was not going to suit my leg position in the car, as comfort is everything now. I had tried a slightly different model at the local dealers, and thought it would be ok. When I phoned the company to apologise and ask for my money back they were very unhelpful, and despite the fact that I was obviously upset, insisted that I had to write a letter to them which would be presented to their accountants as proof of the problem. I had not at any time signed any contract or paperwork. I am still waiting for the refund, and it is causing me a lot of stress. Please could you tell me what my rights are in this matter, then I will at least have some bargaining power if it becomes difficult. Thank you.
JA: Where is this? And just to clarify, when was the purchase made?
Customer: I live in Cumbria and the car is in Bury St Edmunds. The deposit was placed on Friday 27th October. Hilary Robertson
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have written a the letter and sent it in an email on Thursday 31st October, and posted the letter on Friday November 1st. The salesman has received it and says it is with the accountants and awaiting a decision. I feel that I should at least have been told whether I will get my money back by now.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The original transaction was at 5pm on the Friday evening when I was trying to cook at the same time, I did make the decision to pay the deposit to secure the car, but I had told the salesman it wasn't a good moment as I was busy and awaiting my guest. There will be recordings of all our phone conversations, including my very distressed call on Wed 30th when I spoke to the salesman, in tears, and asked him just to give me a yes or no, which he wouldn't. Thank you.

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. Firstly, I need to ask some initial questions to determine the legal position.

Can I just check, was this for a new or used car?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Used car
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
No sorry, ok not calling

Thank you. I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience. Generally, when a person places an order for something and pays a deposit they enter into a legally enforceable contract with the other side. It is implied that they have accepted the deposit as security and as proof that the customer wants to proceed with the contract.


Unless the provider subsequently commits a serious breach of contract, such as failing to supply the goods or services, or they are the ones cancelling the contract, or there was a cancellation clause, the customer would have no legal right to cancel the agreement. If they do so they will likely be acting in breach of contract and risk losing their deposit. This is reinforced if the contract or initial agreement said that the deposit was non-refundable. Even if this was not explicitly mentioned it is entirely possible for a deposit to be retained if the contract has been cancelled when there was no right to do so.


Whilst there is nothing specific in law which would allow the customer to demand the return of their deposit, it is still worth using some tricks in the book to try and twist the other side’s arm. For example, if initial negotiations have failed, the customer can consider threatening formal legal action if the deposit is not returned. Sometimes exerting some formal pressure like that can have the desired effect. If they still refuse then the only way to challenge this would be by making a claim in court (usually the Small Claims Court) but that could be somewhat risky without the specific legal right to reclaim the deposit.


Another option is to inform them that they would be expected to mitigate their losses by trying to find a replacement customer following your cancellation. So if they are able to get someone else to replace you and the amount you would have paid then that would mean the deposit may no longer be required (or at least part of it) and that the difference should be returned.


Does this answer your query?

Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Yes, thank you, it is a bit of a hard lesson to learn and I had hoped that the salesman would be a bit more understanding in the circumstances. I suspect that a bad review of their services might also be a useful threat. Unfortunately, I was just at a vulnerable point in life and several things had conspired to encourage me to make a hasty decision. Thank you anyway.

Don’t give up too easily though, there is still plenty of room for taking it further and pushing them for a refund, even if partial one