Private motor sale - seller won't return deposit - advice welcome!


New Member
I'm new to all of this, so please be kind.

I'm just looking for a bit of a steer from anyone who has had past experience of something like this... I put a €500 cash deposit (bank transfer) down with a private seller on a used vehicle I had 100% intention of purchasing.

The vehicle was advertised on an online marketplace as in PWO, mechanically sound etc. I also asked the seller if there was anything I needed to know about the vehicle, explicitly telling the seller that I don't have mechanical knowledge and am reliant on the seller's goodwill. Everything seemed in order, but the day I was due to pay the balance and collect the vehicle, I ran a check on Cartell and discovered that the vehicle was an insurance write-off (Cat C - structural damage/beyond economic repair) in the UK, imported to Ireland and put back on the (Irish) road a few years back.

I contacted the seller by phone and text to say that I wanted to pull out of the sale as I couldn't risk taking on a vehicle with that history, and asked for a refund of my deposit - I added that I was willing to wait a reasonable amount of time for the refund, as long as a refund was agreed. The seller appears reluctant to return my deposit (hasn't said yes or no, continues to keep me hanging).

Meanwhile, the seller has since re-advertised the vehicle on the same online marketplace (for the same asking price, and without including this new information on the vehicle's history). As it is a rare vehicle, I know that another buyer will come forward very quickly. In the few days of dealing with me, the seller suffered no financial loss as the advertising cost was nil, no other potential purchaser was turned away, and I didn't ask for any works etc to be undertaken.

My gut instinct is that I am going to have difficulty recovering the deposit. In time, I will walk away and look back on this as valuable learning and life experience, but right now, I feel a bit raw! I know that the law (if not morality and integrity) is on the seller's side and I was somewhere between naive and stupid in my approach to the purchase.

My question is - other than asking nicely again for my deposit back, what else can I do, if anything?
All constructive feedback welcome...


Ordinary User

Registered User
Have you reported this to Gardai? may sound naive, but I've witnessed them ordering people to give items and money back to other party, and it worked.

Pinoy adventure

Registered User
You should of done all the checks befour you handed over any money.
You paid a deposit and no don't want too proceed with buying the car = your loss of deposit


Registered User
How do you know? Has the seller a history of this kind of behaviour? Is s/he known to the Gardai? Report it to the Gardai worst case they'll refuse to take action, OP has nothing to lose.

I don't decide when a crime has been committed or whether an incident is worthy of Garda investigation, they do that.


Registered User
I am somewhat of a classic car addict.

(Cat C - structural damage/beyond economic repair) does not mean that it cannot be repaired.
And would not put me off for a classic especially a rare one.

I would be expecting to do work on the car anyway restoration wise.

I'd try estimate the cost of any repairs before walking away permanently and then call it.


Registered User
If the seller is selling an unroadworthy defective vehicle (which I assume it is, having been written off in the UK) and passing it off as roadworthy, knowing that it’s your intention to drive the vehicle on the roads, the Gardai may have something to say about that.

Threaten to report the matter to the Gardai on that basis, giving the seller 48 hours to have the money returned to your bank account.


Registered User
A Cat C write off does not exist in Ireland, as he is selling the car in Ireland I do not see that they have done anything wrong.

You could suggest you buy the car with a discount equal to the cost of repairs to remedy the Cat C.

If you no longer want to proceed with the sale put it down as a life lesson to do a history check before putting down a deposit.


Registered User
If you believe you have been defrauded then going to the Gardai is perfectly legitimate but you would have to report it as a potential crime. It's not necessarily a civil matter as some people seem to indicate.

If you paid via credit card then you could raise a chargeback with your bank on grounds of non-receipt of goods or goods being defective/not as described



If you paid via credit card then you could raise a chargeback with your bank on grounds of non-receipt of goods or goods being defective/not as described

OP said it was a private sale and paid via bank transfer. Chargeback isn't an option, and consumer protection legislation regarding the description of goods for sale does not apply.

The bar for proving fraud will be high, and certainly a lot more than the detail provided to date here, so the Gardai are unlikely to do anyting unless you know a friendly one who might make a phone call on your behalf.

The law here is on the seller's side I'm afraid. The OP is failing to meet the agreed terms and has no legal entitlement to the return of the deposit.


Registered User
If you believe you have been defrauded then going to the Gardai is perfectly legitimate but you would have to report it as a potential crime.
There is no evidence of a crime on the basis of facts set out in this thread.

They would have to prove deception beyond a reasonable doubt and I don't see this here.


Registered User
just because it was written off in the UK does not mean that it is a car that should be avoided , my partner and I bought a car in 2016 , we only discovered it was written off in the UK when we sold it last july having checked it out on Cartell , we did know it was a UK import when we first bought it , we had no trouble with it either afterwards , the buyer of the car has not been in touch since and he himself works as a car salesperson

cars can be written off for insurance purposes without them being condemned to the scrap yard , they are re registered when they come into this country so the authorities obviously overlook them having been written off


Registered User
My wife had a small accident recently, skidded and drove into a mound. Repair cost €2,500 from a garage we have a connection with. Official cost would probably be €4,000 + vat. Car value is probably €6,000. In the UK that would have been a Cat C write off if we went via insurance. Car is back in perfect condition. When we sell it, there will be no official record of new bumper, wheel and side panel and radiator (and other stuff) but I would expect a buyer to have the car checked, but I see no reason why I should mention what was superficial damage that was repaired to perfect condition by a reputable body shop.

For the OP - the seller did nothing wrong unless you can prove the vehicle is not in good mechanical order. A cat c write off will mean its not as valuable as one that does not have that rating and this is usually reflected in the price.

As for the deposit. It will be the goodwill of the seller unless as above, you can show that it is defective from a mechanical point of view.