I consider myself a reasonable person, sometimes a little too trusting - most certainly in this case.
Wife and I had a baby and I needed a larger car. My "Pride and Joy" 1991 Mercedes coupe needed to be sold to make room for a Mercedes station wagon. I ended up locating a 1995 wagon and used my home equity line to pay for it ($7000).
A friend of my wife's sister knew I owned the coupe and expressed great interest in obtaining the car, even before I acquired the wagon or had it prepped for sale (he called at least 3 times saying he wanted the car - even before he had seen it first hand!). We met over dinner at our home and agreed on a price ($6,000). Since the car had over 200,000 miles on it, I encouraged him to have an inspection done, but he was not interested and was only mesmerized by the gleaming black paint and phenominal condition I had kept the car during my 12 years of ownership. I had every service and repair receipt for 12 years (totalling over $28,000) and the car ran very well. I drove it daily until I purchased the wagon.
Remember, the only reason I had even considered selling was to make room in the driveway and it was no longer practical as a daily driver with a child seat.
We signed a contract for automobile purchases valid in Georgia and I signed the title over to him and made me lienholder. This happened in mid-August of this year. Since I knew the buyer was going to be working out of the country (Bermuda), and was not going to get his first paycheck until the end of September, I agreed to make the payments begin on 10/15. We agreed that the payments would be for $1000 per month for six months and no interest. He has a good job and drives a 3 or 4 year old 7-series BMW, so I figured he could easily make the payments, just couldn't come up with the cash all at once. He gave me a $1000 check post dated until 10/15.
In accordance with our agreement, I waited until 10/16 to deposit his $1000, which was returned by his credit union "NSF". I emailed him in Bermuda and asked what was going on and he gave me a song and dance saying how he needed $100K to put down on a house there and he wouldn't be able to make the payments as agreed....he wanted to explore returning the car to me and I said I would be open to negotiation IF the car was returned asap in like-condition. He said the car had not been driven much and only put 150 miles on it. This was last Friday 10/26.
Yesterday, the car was delivered by a friend of his to the shop where I have the car serviced. My mechanic says the car has about 800 additional miles on it, but no obvious damage other than the hood release is broken. The title and other repair history along with all the keys have been returned. Interestingly, the windows have been tinted - very dark - illegal in this state. The title had never been transferred into his name.
So, now I have the car back, but I'm out money for have to deal again with the title issue - he never transferred it into his name, plus I've had to put insurance back on the car and am back to square one.
The question is.....what are my options? What am I legally entitled to? Can I place a "Voluntary Repossession" on his credit report? Am I entitled to recover any expenses and/or can I turn over the broken promissory note to a collection agency - how much would they pursue him for? Is bouncing a check for $1000 a criminal act?
I suppose I'm just frustrated that he waited until I deposited the check before saying he couldn't afford the car. Now, my bank has charged me a fee too.
Thoughts? Advice? "I told you so's"