Can You Recover Finance Charges (Not Mentioned In Car Warranty) ?

Although there are no California decisions on point, a court in at least one other state has held that a buyer is entitled to recover finance charges even though that state's motor vehicle warranty act did not expressly mention finance charges as a recoverable item. In Williams v. Chrysler Corporation (La. Ct. App. 1988) 530 So.2d 1214 530 So.2d 1214, the court construed Louisiana's lemon law, which allows a buyer to recover "the full purchase price plus any amounts paid by the consumer at the point of sale . . . ." (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 51:1944 A.) The appellate court affirmed the trial court's award of finance charges to the buyer under the statute. "We find, as did the trial court, that finance charges are amounts paid by the consumer at the point of sale. While it is true that all interest is not paid at the inception of the sale, plaintiff incurred at the point of sale an obligation to pay the finance charges directly attributable to the purchase of the vehicle." (Williams v. Chrysler Corporation, supra, 530 So.2d at p. 1218.) Administrative regulations cannot alter or amend the scope of a statutorily created remedy. (Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com. (1987) 43 Cal. 3d 1379, 1389 241 Cal. Rptr. 67, 743 P.2d 1323.) Nonetheless, while the ultimate responsibility for interpreting a statute rests with the courts, administrative construction of a law is entitled to great weight and respect. (Yamaha Corp. of America v. State Bd. of Equalization (1998) 19 Cal. 4th 1, 11-12 78 Cal. Rptr. 2d 1, 960 P.2d 1031; Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com., supra, 43 Cal. 3d at p. 1388.) Given the statutory language and the act's remedial purpose, the Department of Consumer Affairs properly construed section 1793.2(d)(2)(B) to allow a buyer seeking the refund remedy to recover paid finance charges.