Verbal agreement


#1

Need some guidance here. On Thursday I met with a private seller to look at a used car that was for sale. I knew that it was overpriced. I ended up offering to buy the car. We shook on it and made plans for how I would pay him and pick it up Monday morning.

Thursday night I had time to think of it more and realized I paid way too much for the car. So, Friday morning I called the guy and told him that I had changed my mind and that I didn’t want the car after all. He wasn’t angry and seemed to understand and even wished me good luck on my search for a car.

Financially, I would have no problem at all paying for the car. I backed out simply because I wanted to save money and get a better deal.

So my questions are: did I commit a sin? Am I morally obligated to call him again and purchase the car? Was I let off the hook because he didn’t hold me to our verbal agreement?

One voice in my head is telling me that what I did was wrong and that I need to right the wrong and purchase the car. And the other voice tells me that what I did was fine. Any help would be appreciated. :confused:


#2

According to law, the buyer has three days within purchase to return the product for a full refund. The church follows the civil laws unless contrary to divine law. So its ok.


#3

Perhaps you should talk to your pastor about possible scrupulosity. Because this is pretty over the top as far as “is this a sin” questions go.

NO it is not a sin to change your mind about something you have not actually purchased yet.
It isn’t a sin to return something you change your mind about even after you have purchased it.


#4

In the OT, there are examples where God allows for and forgives the changing of minds, including “foolish oaths”. So, you don’t have to be right immediately every time or otherwise be in sin.


#5

Neither agreeing to buy a car, nor asking to return the car, are sinful.


#6

Thanks everyone. I thought that I may have committed a mortal sin. I thought that I might have broken the commandment to not bear false witness against my neighbor. Also thought and am not fully convinced that I might be obligated to keep my word. Still not fully convinced though. 80% convinced and 20% doubt.


#7

You didnt comit. a sin but you need to be careful with that because you may be in breach of contract. On that issue what you need to do is speak to a lawyer.


#8

[quote="marymary1975, post:7, topic:333524"]
You didnt comit. a sin but you need to be careful with that because you may be in breach of contract. On that issue what you need to do is speak to a lawyer.

[/quote]

He sold a car and then sold it back. Don't scare the OP.


#9

The OP does have a legal issue and he does need to speak a lawyer. He can rely on whether is a sin on this forum but he cannot take the advice of non lawyers in a forum as to his legal issue. Now the seller may not care and do nothing but the OP does have to be careful because the seller may have a cause of action and the OP doesn’t know which way the seller would go.


#10

[quote="marymary1975, post:9, topic:333524"]
The OP does have a legal issue and he does need to speak a lawyer. He can rely on whether is a sin on this forum but he cannot take the advice of non lawyers in a forum as to his legal issue. Now the seller may not care and do nothing but the OP does have to be careful because the seller may have a cause of action and the OP doesn't know which way the seller would go.

[/quote]

He never signed any papers.


#11

[quote="jimmy, post:10, topic:333524"]
He never signed any papers.

[/quote]

It doesn't matter. Oral contracts are fully enforceable contracts. He entered into an oral contract and we don't know any details about what he did or didn't do or what the seller did or didn't do. He may have defenses but we don't know as we are lacking information. That is why he needs to.talk to a lawyer instead of us on that regard.


#12

[quote="marymary1975, post:9, topic:333524"]
The OP does have a legal issue and he does need to speak a lawyer. He can rely on whether is a sin on this forum but he cannot take the advice of non lawyers in a forum as to his legal issue. Now the seller may not care and do nothing but the OP does have to be careful because the seller may have a cause of action and the OP doesn't know which way the seller would go.

[/quote]

My take as lawyer (though NOT a contract lawyer) in Minnesota [note, this is not legal advice and I don't know the specifics of his case or the exact legal ramifications in MN; consider this general information about the types of issues and play and the considerations for timing of obtaining proper legal advice]:

While it's true that the seller may have a cause of action, there's little reason for the OP to run out and pay a lawyer to look into something that may never happen. For him to need a lawyer, the following things need to occur:

  1. The seller needs to change his mind and decide to sue him.

  2. The seller needs to find a lawyer that determines he has a case, and a worthwhile one at that. There are a several of reasons this oral contact might not be binding:

*** the Statute of Frauds might make this oral contract unenforceable (the statute, which varies by state, says that certain oral contracts are unenforceable unless in writing; upon cursory glance it appears that the MN statute requires contracts "for sale of goods for the price of $500 or more" to be in writing: revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=336.2-201&year=2011)

*** no damages: since the seller still has the car, he may not have any damages from you backing out, especially if he successfully sells it to someone else; now, if the car burns up in fire tomorrow and he has no insurance, then he might have damages

*** probably several other things I am not aware of since I don't practice contract law

Short summary: it's very unlikely the OP would get sued for this. If he receives notification of a lawsuit, or even communication from the seller hinting at that, then he should definitely consult a lawyer to work through the options and his legal culpability.

Short of that, there's no reason for him to waste money consulting a lawyer, IMO.

Any absolute statements such as "it's not enforceable because he didn't sign anything" or "oral contracts are fully enforceable" are incorrect. As with almost everything in the law, it depends on the circumstances. For oral contracts, it depends on the type of agreement made and whether or not the state in question requires that type of agreement to be in writing.

Since the seller appears uninterested in suing, and if the agreed price was more than $500 (which appears to require a written contract in MN), I think the OP can rest easy unless and until he gets sued.


#13

[quote=Wampa;1100997
]http://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=336.2-201&year=2011
[/quote]

)

Short summary: it’s very unlikely the OP would get sued for this. If he receives notification of a lawsuit, or even communication from the seller hinting at that, then he should definitely consult a lawyer to work through the options and his legal culpability.

Short of that, there’s no reason for him to waste money consulting a lawyer, IMO.

Any absolute statements such as “it’s not enforceable because he didn’t sign anything” or “oral contracts are fully enforceable” are incorrect. As with almost everything in the law, it depends on the circumstances. For oral contracts, it depends on the type of agreement made and whether or not the state in question requires that type of agreement to be in writing.

Since the seller appears uninterested in suing, and if the agreed price was more than $500 (which appears to require a written contract in MN), I think the OP can rest easy unless and until he gets sued.

I said we don’t have enough information. However the OP said “he paid way too much” which if he did.then we are talking about part performance. Also, remember in many States if the seller sells the car for less than the price that he was supposed to get from the OP he can sue to recover the difference. But my point is we don’t have any details on this issue, we don’t know what the OP did, wrote or talk and there is a question as to whether he paid, so here we are not in a position to tell the OP what can happen. and yes while the seller seems ok.we don’t know what actually is going through the seller’s mind and yes, he would have to go and get a lawyer, but telling the OP that he should not worry about this is not a good advice because we don’t know what the seller is thinking, and again we don’t know details so my point is he does need to be careful. And if the OP does want to get legal advice on this he shouldn’t get it here but from a lawyer in his State instead.


#14

Thanks for the legal advice everyone, but I'm not worried about getting sued and if I do, I'll cross that bridge when I get there. I started this thread because I was interested in the moral aspect of backing out of an agreement such as this. Something I'll have to remember for the future is to not make an agreement such as this that I'm not absolutely sure I'll see through. I also didn't know that someone could get sued for a verbal agreement. I thought it had to be in writing in order for them to have a case.


#15

Morally speaking, all you did was return an item, which is not sinful. You can’t even be sued over it, because your state requires sales over $500 to be in writing (if you bought a car for less than $500, then you didn’t over pay!).

What may be worrying you is that you now have a slight reputation for being a flaky customer. The person you bought the car from may not be willing to sell to you in the future. This doesn’t affect your relationship with God, but it is a consequence of your actions.


#16

I think you misread his comment that he “paid way too much”. It’s clear from everything else he said that the price he agreed to pay was too much, not that he actually handed over cash.

We know enough details to suggest that he not worry about it until there’s something to worry about (i.e. he gets sued). Your advice to run out and get a lawyer now, in a scenario where there’s very little chance he gets sued, just adds expense, stress, and aggravation onto a situation that just doesn’t call for it.


#17

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