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You Have a Choice of Refund or Replacement

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  November 6, 2009

The state of Oklahoma has just passed new, stronger legislation in support of their state lemon laws. Among other things, the bill gives consumers the choice of a refund or replacement of a defective vehicle. It also places a standard in state law for a manufacturer’s charge for mileage on a defective vehicle and prohibits a manufacturer from charging for mileage if the lemon is simply replaced.

Similar to the Oklahama legislation, California lemon law prohibits a manufacturer from forcing a consumer to accept a replacement—something a manufacturer or dealer won’t always tell you.

“The general consensus amongst lemon practitioners in California is that the manufacturer cannot make you take a replacement,” said Norman Taylor, leading California lemon law attorney.

Taylor understands the law well. He has been a California lemon law specialist since 1987, and he and his firm, Norman Taylor and Associates, have handled over 8,000 cases for consumers with a 98 percent success rate.

A consumer may prefer one remedy over the other for various reasons. If the consumer really likes the model, for example, he or she may choose a replacement. If the buyer no longer trusts the manufacturer, he or she may then opt for a refund. The point, though, is that if the consumer wants a cash refund, the manufacturer cannot force a replacement on to the consumer.

Anyone pursuing a refund should make themselves aware of what exactly the refund encompasses. It usually includes the down payment and all monthly payments made including finance charges. It may also include official fees and charges such as sales tax and registration fees, and other expenses reasonably incurred in connection with the defective vehicle such as rental cars, towing, repairs and storage.

Almost all states permit the manufacturer to deduct some allowance for the owner’s use of the vehicle, and some states allow a deduction only for miles driven up to the first repair attempt. The latter recognizes that the failure to repair the vehicle is the manufacturer’s responsibility, and that being forced to continue using a lemon is not a valuable benefit.

A replacement must be comparable to the vehicle being replaced. Ideally, it should be substantially identical in make, model and options. The manufacturer must typically pay any sales tax and registration fees on the new vehicle.

Whichever remedy you choose, you should obtain professional help. “I recommend that you consult a lemon law attorney to help you decide what is best for you,” said Taylor.

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