This is the second in a series of short essays I wrote as part of the Ship 30 for 30 program. You can read all thirty essays here.
A couple of years ago, I bought a beautiful second-hand convertible coupe. I only owned it for two months, but it taught me a valuable lesson.
At the dealership, I asked to pay on credit card because I wanted the extra consumer protection credit cards give.
The sales assistant told me the dealer wouldn’t accept credit cards due to a recent fraud incident. Their story didn’t quite ring true, and my gut told me something was off. Unfortunately, the dealer wasn’t present, so I couldn’t probe any further. But I really wanted the car, and I had negotiated a significant discount, so I agreed to buy it. I phoned the dealer, who let me make a small deposit on credit card and pay the balance by bank transfer.
After reviewing the paperwork at home, I found a mechanic’s note suspecting a head gasket fault. And, before long, the telltale signs emerged; leaking coolant, emulsified oil, sudden drops in power, dodgy heater.
I took the car back for inspection. The dealer fixed the heater and assured me the head gasket had been tested and was fine. I took him at his word, but the problems persisted.
When I called him, he stonewalled me and began telling blatant lies. I learned he had a history of ripping people off with faulty vehicles, so I sought consumer advice. Luckily, that credit card deposit gave me the right to seek a full refund. I opened a case with my credit card company and returned the car.
My credit card company pressured the dealer, who eventually conceded and refunded me in full. And the valuable lesson I learned? Instead of buying the car, I should have walked away as soon as something didn’t feel right.
Always trust your gut—it knows more than you think.