One of the things I love about writing for Jalopnik is that readers tell me stories - which are true and yet unbelievable. Like this auto repair contract, sent to me by Jeff in New Jersey. It is the worst. Contract. Ever.
The bulk of my practice is Lemon Law, but I get phone calls regarding all manner of automobile laws. Often I hear from consumers whose cars were damaged by shops attempting the opposite: that is, they tried to fix the car, but instead made it worse.
One auto repair shop in New Jersey has found a way around the problems which might arise from such a situation. They ask their customers to sign The Worst Contract Ever. And seriously, short of something you might sign with a hoofed emissary of the Underworld, this is the worse contract you will ever see.
Note that the contract only applies to cars over 10 years old or with 100K on the clock. From that point, they are off and running. Let’s examine the evil.
They probably intended this to address the condition of your car after they are done but that’s not how it is drafted. As a result, they are not guaranteeing the condition of your car when you drop it off.
Here is where the fun begins. They don’t guarantee their work either! They promise you nothing. What are you paying them for? Who knows! And it goes downhill from here.
Seriously. They may in fact make your car worse.
At this point, when I read the contract the first time, I stopped and sent an email to the sender asking him where he got this and if it was from a website with the word “snopes” in the URL. He gave me the name of the dealer and explained how he got it. So, it appears real.
Crazy, but real.
They may just rip into your car and demand more money. Don’t feel like paying more? Come by and get your motorized basket case off the property. But pay them first!
I love it when kids use grown-up words. And when people throw legal jargon into a document in the hopes that it means something. At the risk of offending some goofy attorney in Ohio on a burner account who argues with everything I say, I assure you this sentence is gobbledygook.
They can disclaim one of those two (I won’t say which one so as to not ruin the suspense) but the two are almost never involved in the same transaction. That’s what you get for not having a lawyer draft your bad contract for you in the first place.
Yes, this could become an endless loop. They can damage your vehicle and charge you to repair it. And then they can damage it some more. And so on. If your head doesn’t hurt at this point, sink a meat thermometer into your skull and check for a number above ambient room temperature: You might be brain dead.
See my comments to #5. “This document is a part.” That’s sheer legal gold there, my friends. Did they mean “part OF and . . .” Doesn’t matter. They drafted it; they have to live with their mistakes.
Don’t get me wrong: This is the only wisdom on this piece of paper. Any attorney would tell you “RUN!” Because if you sign this piece of paper you are perhaps one of the least intelligent things crawling on the face of this big blue sphere we call home.
Then again, they are optimistic. They fantasize that a real person may have read all the way through the document and agreed to its terms. Why else would they bother with a signature line?
I do wonder if anyone has ever signed this document. It would be totally unenforceable in Michigan for dozens of reasons I don’t think you need to hear about. But since this document came from New Jersey, who knows? Maybe it would be enforceable. If someone was unintelligent enough to sign it. But do people like that REALLY exist? I hope not.
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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 23 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.
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