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Dealership accidentally sells new car for cheap, has customer arrested

Published October 3, 2012
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A Virginia man spent four hours in jail after purchasing a Chevrolet Traverse from Priority Chevrolet in Chesapeake, Va., the Virginian-Pilot reports.

Staff at the dealership accidentally sold the SUV to Danny Sawyer for $5,600 U.S. less than they should have, and when Sawyer refused to sign a new, more expensive contract for the correct amount, the dealership called police alleging the buyer had stolen the vehicle. Law enforcement then picked Sawyer up and held him for four hours before getting the situation straight.

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Dennis Ellmer, president of Priority Chevrolet, says he owes Sawyer an apology on behalf of the dealership, and had intended to do right by the buyer by letting him have the vehicle at the agreed-upon price, the website said.

But Sawyer’s lawyer says it’s too late to apologize. The briefly incarcerated owner has filed two lawsuits against the dealer, accusing the business of malicious prosecution, slander, defamation and abuse of process. Sawyer wants $2.2 million in damages, plus attorney fees.

The lawsuit says Sawyer originally purchased a blue Traverse on May 7, but took the SUV back the next day for a black one. The dealer’s sales manager made the swap, allegedly without saying anything about a price differential between the two. Sawyer signed a final contract for around $34,000 when the vehicle he took home had an actual price of closer to $39,000.

On June 15, Sawyer was taken into custody, but charges were dropped after finding insufficient evidence to pursue the case, the website said.

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