When consumers buy or lease lemons, they should get back everything they paid with no offset for use because owning a lemon is often a nightmare. Consumers take time off from work, miss vacations, get stranded, worry about their safety – i.e., when and where the vehicle will next break down, and even have strains within the family when inflicted with a lemon. In recognition of this, West Virginia includes “annoyance or inconvenience” as damages to be recovered as shown below. Unless the lemon law specifies particular items to be recovered, auto manufacturers will argue that it is not covered. While the consumer may win the battle of having a vehicle declared a lemon, they may lose the war of what should be reimbursed to the extent they are no better off than if they traded in the vehicle.
To be fair to consumers and receive a good rating, a state lemon law must specify that in addition to purchase price which includes optional equipment, a refund must include: (a) taxes, tags, title and other fees, (b) incidental and consequential damages including towing, repairs, insurance, (c) interest payments and finance charges, (d) rental car, alternate transportation and loss of use, (e) inconvenience. Illinois has one of the worst laws in the country for damages because the consumer does not even recover taxes. Often manufacturers contend consumers should not get the full trade-in value. Some states, such as California, have had to take care of this through administrative agencies, but New Hampshire does a good job in its lemon law by specifying the refund includes “the full purchase price as indicated in the purchase contract and all credits and allowances for any trade-in or down payment.”
West Virginia Code
46A-6A-4 Civil action by consumer.
(b) In any action under this section, the consumer may be awarded all or any portion of the following:
(1) Revocation of acceptance and refund of the purchase price, including, but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration fees, and other reasonable expenses incurred for the purchase of the new motor vehicle, or if there be no such revocation of acceptance, damages for diminished value of the motor vehicle;
(2) Damages for the cost of repairs reasonably required to conform the motor vehicle to the express warranty;
(3) Damages for the loss of use, annoyance or inconvenience resulting from the nonconformity, including, but not limited to, reasonable expenses incurred for replacement transportation during any period when the vehicle is not out of service by reason of the nonconformity or by reason of repair; and
(4) Reasonable attorney fees.
North Carolina General Statutes
20-351.3 Replacement or refund; disclosure requirement.
(1) The full contract price including, but not limited to, charges for undercoating, dealer preparation and transportation, and installed options, plus the non-refundable portions of extended warranties and service contracts;
(2) All collateral charges, including but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration fees, and similar government charges;
(3) All finance charges incurred by the consumer after he first reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer; and
(4) Any incidental damages and monetary consequential damages.
New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated
357-D:3 Enforcement of Warranties.
(V) . . . . In those instances in which a refund is tendered, the manufacturer shall refund to the consumer the full purchase price as indicated in the purchase contract and all credits and allowances for any trade-in or down payment, license fees, finance charges, credit charges, registration fees, and any similar charges and incidental and consequential damages . . . .