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Man with early signs of dementia buys unneeded new car Ken Amaro, First Coast News

JACKSONVILLE, FL --- When it comes to car sales, many people change their mind after the fact.

In this case, family members say their 86-year-old loved one did not know what he was doing.

"He had a stroke on June 9," said Gina Merlino. "He wasn't doing well mentally physically anything he really shouldn't be driving or left alone."

A few days later on June 16, Frank Merlino drove his 2011 Honda Fit to his dealership for an oil change and left with a 2015 model of the same car.

"They sold him a car for $27,000," she said, "and they told him he has seven years to pay it off at $459 a month."

Merlino is a former U.S. Marine with a number of health issues. His caregivers are his two daughters and they are not happy with the deal.

"They told him all you have to do is put gas in this car," she said. "They made it sweet for him."

The deal included thousands of dollars in charges for a maintenance plan and a service contract. Merlino said her father also has signs of early dementia and was not in his right mind when he signed the sales contract on June 24.

Merlino said one of his caregivers would have been contacted. "His judgment is not good when you talk to him you can tell," she said.

These are the facts in the case:

  • Merlino is a longtime customer of the dealership and had a trusting relationship
  • His salesperson had no knowledge of the current state of his mental condition

If the dealership had refused to sell him a car because of his age, that could have opened the door to charges of discrimination. "We don't want anything from them but the right thing," she said. "This was the wrong thing to do."

On Your Side contacted the dealership and the general manager met with Frank Merlino and his caregivers.

After a brief meeting, the dealership canceled the sale and returned Merino's 2011 Honda Fit. The general manager said Merlino is a longtime customer and they wanted to make everyone happy.

When shopping for a car keep these points in mind:

  • All sales are final; there is no cooling off period of three days nor 30 days
  • Cars sold "As Is' means as is and the problems become the buyer's responsibility
  • Check a dealer's complaint history with the Better Business Bureau
  • Get all promises in writing and keep your record
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