Selling guide

What if the buyer won't pay for my car?

Being a private seller gives you fewer rights than a dealer after a sale, but there are still things you can do.

Keep hold of the keys until you have the change of ownership papers signed and the money in hand (or your bank account). Being a private seller gives you fewer rights than a dealer when it comes to issues after the sale, but there are still some things you can do if a buyer won't pay up.

The buyer wants to pull out

Your options if a buyer pulls out of the deal depends on the type of listing you have chosen. Through a classified listing, a buyer has the right to pull out of a deal – as long as money hasn’t changed hands. This can be frustrating, but they have the right to do so.

An auction is different because the winning bid (over the reserve price) is a legal agreement between buyer and seller. If you think their reason for pulling out of the deal is reasonable, then you could try and resolve the situation and re-list your auction. If you think the reason for them pulling out of the deal is unjustified you have a couple of options:

  • Place negative feedback on their account.
  • Relist your auction.

Have a read of the Trade Me terms and conditions for more info.

Can’t contact the auction winner?

You’ve tried contacting an auction winner but got no response? Here’s what to do next:

  • We recommend giving them 3 working days to reply to your contact and pay within a week.
  • Continue attempting to contact them – they may just not be online much.
  • Tell us – we may be able to give them a call directly and pass on your phone number if you’d like us to.

Still no contact? Place feedback on their account and re-list your auction. You won't need to request a success fee refund as car listings don't have success fees. 

The buyer still hasn’t paid-up?

Our expectation is that all members are honest and fair in their dealings – you can contact our Trust and Safety Team if you think the issue is serious or notice that they’ve done this before. Buyers who keep failing to meet their auction obligations, or make life difficult for sellers, will have their membership suspended.

If you think it’s a bigger issue, you may wish to take it further. You can do this through the Disputes Tribunal.

Hopefully, this information helps you in receiving the agreed payment on your car sale. If you’re having a different sort of aftersale problem and the buyer is unhappy, we have tips on how you can handle that too.