Dealership has Customer Arrested Over Pricing Mistake


A Virginia-area Chevrolet dealer is in hot water after a having a customer arrested. A salesman's pricing mistake led to a deep discount for the customer, along with a pair of handcuffs for him and a lawsuit against the dealership.

Danny Sawyer traded his 2008 Saturn Vue for a black 2012 Chevrolet Traverse, but quickly changed his mind and returned to get a blue one instead. The $33,957.55 Traverse contract remained unchanged despite the switch.The story was first reported by the Virginia Pilot newspaper.

The dealership made a mistake, however, and the blue Traverse should have cost around $39,000. After repeatedly trying to contact Sawyer to get him to sign the more expensive contract, the dealership contacted police and had Sawyer arrested on theft charges.

Although the charges were eventually dropped and the dealership apologized, ABC News is reporting that Sawyer has filed a $2.2 million lawsuit. According to ABC News, Sawyer's lawsuit alleges malicious prosecution, slander, defamation, abuse of process, negligence and fraud.

Chevy Dealer Errs in Sale Price, Has Customer Danny Sawyer Arrested for Theft (ABC News)
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Ken L.

Buy a Chevy, and get arrested? That's got to be the worst stealership experience ever. And over $5k for the blue color?


How convenient to leave for a cruise the day after buying a new car. It's one thing to keep a little extra change that a cashier may have given you but to receive $5000 more car than you agreed to pay for and not expect any consequences? Dumb dealer and dumb customer.

If it's a jury trial and I'm on the jury... Sawyer isn't getting anywhere near $2.2million. The dealership isn't getting anything, a contract is a contract as long as the buyer didn't doctor something or had a backroom deal with the sales person.

I give police A LOT of leeway but I'd be interested to see if they made any mistakes going through with the arrest...or maybe the dealership lied to make that arrest happen?

Des Alba

WTF, there's more to the story.

The guy bought one Traverse and then exchanged it for another Traverse that had a lot more stuff on it and cost more.

This is not what GM had in mind when they said you could buy a GM car and return it if you didn't love it.

The salesmanager screwed up, finalized the deal, and the dude went home happy as a clam (with something he loved).

When the customer refused to re-do the finalized deal in order to pay more, that's when the dealership sent the cops after him.

IMO, the customer should not have to suffer for the dealer's screw up. I bet the jury will see it the same way.

And it would have been a lot cheaper for the dealership to let him have the more expensive car because a jury is going to find for the customer and award him millions for psychological pain, distress and suffering.

PLUS, I bet the jury will make the dealership pay for the customer's attorney and court costs.

They offered the customer an apology, but by then the damage was done (and rightly so).

This customer is going to make out BIG! This is a PR nightmare for the dealership and GM, and tort being what it is, it is going to cost the owners of the dealership a lot more than just money.

If that attorney is smart, he'll drag GM into the fray because it was GM's marketing campaign that initiated the whole thing.

If GM and the dealership are smart, they will settle, and settle quickly, with a non-disclosure clause on the customer.

Penn Law

FACT: NY Times reporting the dealer lied when they reported the car in question as being stolen to the police.

The contract is valid because both parties entered into an Offer (a promise to do something), with Acceptance (notification of acceptance), and with Consideration (exchange of something of value).

The dealer will lose and should as the contract is fully enforceable. Standard car contracts do not violate public policy or criminal law so the dealer's counsel should push for a quick settlement at that.

I haven't bought a GM car since graduating college. Thank God for that!


You are right that there is a lot to this story that is not being said by the media such as how the dealership was able to get a warrant for arrest.

Regardless, you as a consumer would be crying bloody murder if you went home and found that you were overcharged $5600. I am sure there are rules in place to protect you in these instances. I am sure there are rules in place to protect businesses in cases where they are on the short end.

Question for the cops

I am not anti-police or anything so please don't come at with the typical comments of how grateful we should all be for police blah blah blah anytime anyone questions them but I do have a question for the police. Why was this guy ever arrested? He bought the car and had a contract. Should of ended with him showing the cops the purchase contract before he even got to jail. Maybe cuff him or something then he tells police where the contract is and let him go. Am I missing something?


I agree that the police should not have arrested anyone, except the dealer if they falsely reported a theft.
The police should have seen this as clearly a civil case. Sometimes the police believe the first one who calls them.
The dealer should have sued the customer in civil court.

Ste (The Original S.G.)

Oh local news becoming national. About the arrest, a manager contacted police stating the vehicle was stolen. The officer assured the manager he would secure a warrant against Sawyer. And soon after he was arrested. He then posted bond and walked home. The charges against him were dropped when Police determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case. Even after all this the dealership allegedly continued to contact him in regards to signing a new contract.

Sawyer traded in his Saturn and paid the remaining balance in full with a certified cashiers check all to the amount in notarized contract. So he owned the vehicle outright. Why didn't he present the contract, registration, or insurance to the police? All the police had was an allegation of grand larceny from the Dealership and no other information. None. Within all this the dealership already acknowledged they made an error with the price. But with the product paid for in full and in the ownership of its new owner, I don't think there's anything they can really do if thats what he and the dealer both signed, therefore agreeing, on that price. The police report even states Sawyer as the true and lawful owner.

Honestly, this dealership went way out of line to cover a roughly $5,000 mistake on their part. They even did not title or register the vehicle with the DMV after the sale process and transfer of product, but notified the DMV, albeit late, they took the Saturn as a trade and put it for sale.


Was Sawyer dishonest if he knew what he was getting away with? Yes. I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that it's still the dealership's fault, though. A contract is a contract. They knew that he brought it back and exchanged it for a different one. At that point, the responsibility would fall on the dealership to ensure that everything was kosher regarding the contract, payment, etc. Sawyer might have had to live with his conscience, but having him arrested for a mistake the dealership made is ridiculous. I do know something about PR - and, this is a classic "bad PR" moment.


Not as bad as the story about Best Chevrolet in Easley, SC that destroyed a Camaro owners clutch by joy riding and then lied about it. It's a good thing the owner had a voice recorder in the car and caught everything. The story is on Yahoo's front page.

Just another example of why I stopped buying GM products three decades ago. To many of the dealers are lying scum who don't know how to treat a customer right.


I hope he wins every penny of the $2.2 Million. Had the dealership told police the truth, their answer would have been "that's a civil matter", and that would have been the end of it. But no, they'd rather lie to the cops and have the guy arrested and jailed. That's a hell of a way to treat a customer. The mistake was the dealer's, not the customer's. The cops should arrest the dealer rep. who called them and made the false report. Now that would be justice. I hope they lose a lot of business on account of this.

Stuart Friedman

What gets me is the most common police dodge for getting involved in a matter is "it is civil" and we can't get involved. When you have a greased complainant, they have no problem playing judge, jury, and executioner. Where ownership is legitimately disputed, the police should not use their guns to decide claim and delivery matters.

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