Car Dealers and Dead Donkeys

We were asked the other day why a car dealer who lied to a customer should have to do anything more than merely take back the car and refund their money. Seems some car dealers and their attorneys think that's enough. Paying "more" means paying what the law calls "punitive damages" and there's a reason for them. I think it was my dad or older brother who first explained to me, years ago, why punitive damages are a necessary part of our society and legal system. It's because of Chuck. Let me explain.

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

The next day he drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died." Chuck replied, "Well, then, just give me my money back." The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already." Chuck said, "Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey."

The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?" Chuck said, "I'm going to raffle him off." The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead donkey!" Chuck said, "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?" Chuck said, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $898.00." The farmer said, "Didn't anyone complain?" Chuck said, "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back." Chuck grew up and works for a car dealer now.

Punitive damages are necessary to punish those few business people who knowingly do something that's just plain wrong and is so bad that they need to be taught a lesson and made an example of. 499 people paid Chuck two dollars and never knew they were ripped off. When the one who found out complained, why Chuck just paid them off by refunding their two dollars.

Meanwhile, by lieing to everyone (okay, technically he just hid the truth) Chuck made $898 profit off the scheme.

That's why just making a con artist refund your money is not enough. You have to stop the scheme and as long as they make money off the scheme itself, simply making them refund your money won't be enough to make them stop what they are doing. You have to go deeper into their pocket because people like that only understand one thing: money. After all, if they understood right and wrong, they wouldn't be selling raffle tickets for dead donkeys.

Same thing is true of a thieving car dealer who you catch ripping you off. The average car dealer fights hard to keep from taking back a bad car. Why? Because there's an old saying in the business that goes like this "Once it goes over the curb, we don't take it back."

Nowadays, the smart car dealer will argue but then eventually give up and take it back. They argue hard at first to try to avoid taking back the defective car (that's probably a visceral reaction ingrained in the breed, frankly). But if you argue long enough, the smart car dealer will take the car back just to stop your complaining. After all, they know that they can just pawn off the dead donkey on some other guy or gal, who probably won't argue as long or as loud as you do.

And they get away with it. In fact, they make money off it.

Many courts have explained that punitive damages are intended "to discourage others from committing similar wrongful acts." They don't reward the victim for being a victim. They punish someone for being a thief. Why? Because punishment works.

Otherwise, they'll just keep selling raffle tickets for dead donkeys.

If you've bought a dead donkey from a rip off car dealer, we can help. Click here to email us right now, or call us, 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Helping consumers get their money back is what we do. Everyday since 1978. Oh yeah, lots of car dealers know who we are and what we do, and that doesn't bother us one bit.

Fighting Fraud Since 1978, One Car Dealer at a Time

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Known nationwide as a leading Lemon Law attorney, Ronald L. Burdge has represented literally thousands of consumers in "lemon" lawsuits and actively co-counsels and coaches other Consumer Law attorneys. From 2005 through 2018, attorney Ronald L. Burdge has been named as the only Lemon Law Ohio Super Lawyer by Law and Politics magazine and Thomson Reuters Corp., Professional Division. Burdge restricts his practice to Lemon Law and Consumer Law cases. The Ohio Super Lawyer results are published annually in the January issue of Cincinnati Magazine. Ronald L. Burdge was named Consumer Law Trial Lawyer of the Year 2004 by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the nation's largest organization of consumer law private and government attorneys. "Your impact on the auto industry has been magnified many times over because of the trail you blazed for others," stated NACA's Executive Director, Will Ogburn. Burdge has represented thousands of consumers in Ohio, Kentucky and elsewhere since 1978 and is a frequent lecturer to national, state and local Bar Associations and Judicial organizations. Burdge is admitted to Ohio's state and federal courts, Kentucky's state courts, and Indiana's federal courts. Other court admissions are on a "pro hac" temporary, case by cases basis.