Guy Wins Brand New Challenger SRT8 on Ebay for 29.1k & Seller Reneges

Legal Dopers,

I’ve been watching this thread from the start and it seems there is a dangerous precedent being set here.

The skinny: Guy bids on a NR EBay auction held by a car dealer, and ends up with the winning bid of $29,100. He tries to pay and pick up his vehicle and now the dealer is saying there was a mistake and won’t honour the action. This type of vehicle normally sells for the 45k price range.

Can the dealership legally get away with pulling what appears to be a manoeuvre?

The details can be found in this thread:

My apologies if I posted this in the wrong section.


This isn’t the first time it’s happened. There have been at least three or four similar stories in the last few years. In every case, iirc, after mountains of bad publicity the dealerships ended up making a deal with the bidder.

Here’s an article about a similar situation with a Hyundai Genesis

And another where the dealer tries to regig.

Killer bees and RVs

I can’t find the original article on it but the deal ultimately went through. An auction on eBay is legally binding. Seller’s remorse doesn’t fly any further than buyer’s remorse.

You are absolutely right.

As for the “killer bees” story, the buyer posted followup on this RV forum (see the bottom of the page). He did get the RV at the agreed upon price a few days later, and he goes on for two pages answering questions that folks posted about the experience. This part sums it up well:

I’m sure that’s what goes on it most of these cases. Folks ought to educate themselves about eBay just a little before they put $45,000 items up for bid.

Why in the heck didn’t the idiot seller set a reserve price? I can’t imagine risking a $45,000 vehicle on an auction without a reserve. That’s just stupid.

I don’t know why he just didn’t have his friend put in a fake bid at the last minute.

He would have been liable for quite substantial ebay listing and sale fees if he did this.

Apparently OP is not aware that bids on Ebay Motors are not legally binding, so to be succinct, the seller is free to accept or decline the offer at their discretion.

And it works both ways, the bid is non binding as is the sale. For EBay Motors, and Real Estate. Other categories, it’s a different story.

So even though this disclamier is pasted at the bottom of the auction, none of this is legally binding? (sincere questions not pointing directly at you Spartacus)

Disclaimer: This auction is a legally binding contract to buy this vehicle. All vehicles are sold as-is unless otherwise specified. I have done my best to accurately describe this vehicle. It is up to the buyer to come see and further inspect the car before the end of the auction.

So the words written on the auction are meaningless? Empty words without any validity to them?

As a consumer it chafes my hide because had this car sold at auction for $70,000, it’s a fairly reasonable assumption the dealer would have sold the car and expected payment as per the terms. Instead the auction doesn’t go as planned, so they hide under the legal web of the law to slither out of the agreement?

Does that about sum it up? It’s times like this I wish I was a lawyer because as a common man stuff like this is really hard for me to get my small brain around.

For once I would like to see someone like this taken to task and have the courts rule in favour of the little guy who got the short end of the stick. Right is right.

If there are no rules to guide us on EBay and people can do whatever they please then what’s the point? Does this mean I can go to the guy’s auctions, bid on all his vehicles, and after wasting all his time, I can say “Oops, sorry, it’s not a legally binding contract; sorry I wasted your time”.

I just don’t understand how such a blatant fraud is allowed to take place, and there’s not a thing the guy can do about it.

Forgive my ignorance.


It appears the disclaimer is a generic one included in whatever listing template the seller used, it would be interesting to see how enforceable it is. Disclaimers in an auction would present some interesting legal problems and since I’m not a lawyer I don’t think I’d be able to articulate them very well, but it’s Ebay at the end of the day and caveat emptor rules.

The seller has 0 feedback, and frankly if a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Perhaps the lack of bids sending the car up near it’s market value is indicative of how many people on Ebay felt the same way.

I agree that some level of fraud has occurred, and it’s unfortunate for the seller that this occurred in California, which has some very strict and punitive laws against these sorts of bait and switch tactics, going so far as to criminalize the practice.

IANAL but… You have two items : An in-your-face announcement that the auction is a legally binding contract, and some weasel words hidden in the find print of terms of service trying to exclude cars and real estate. I suspect the in-your-face clause would win, since that is what the seller is presenting to the world and what a reasonable buyer would see and expect to be followed. You can’t say “this is binding” in plain sight in bold, and then have some “click here for the fine print” which says “no it is not”.

Of course, this is probably eBay’s fault since I assume someone has noticed the discrepancy and complained by now. eBay’s willingness to respond to concerns is legendary.

The clause “We do not transfer legal ownership of items from the seller to the buyer,” is I assume eBay weaseling out of being the middleman - they run the site, but any sales contract is strictly between seller and buyer. I assume this gets them out of responsibility for tax collection too, as well as any liability for failed contracts, quality of goods, etc.

As for fake bids and commissions - the seller’s about to take a bath and pay a decent commission to eBay. Why not pay a slightly higher commission to eBay and then not lose your shirt on the sale? If it’s like the item cited, odds are they had no clue their “reserve” was not one until the auction ended.

I stopped using eBay over 10 years ago when it seemed that they had no control and no concern over how honest or reliable the auctions were. The only reliable thing about it now is it seems to be an Amazon-type aggregator for small stores.

That sums it up quite nicely.