What Is the Legal Definition of ''Cash Price'' ?

In 1993, the Texas Legislature changed the definition of "cash price" from a subjective, reliance-based definition to the objective version that exists today. Act of May 11, 1979, 66th Leg., ch. 467, 1979 Tex. Gen. Laws 1586, 1595 (former TEX. REV. CIV. STAT. ANN. art. 5069-7.01(f)), repealed and codified by Act of May 22, 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, secs. 6, 1, 348.004, 1997 Tex. Gen. Laws 3601, 3603 (repealer), 3601 (codification) (current version at TEX. FIN. CODE ANN. 348.004 (Vernon 1998)). Before 1993, the "cash price" was "the price stated in the retail installment contract for which the seller would have sold to the buyer and the buyer would have bought from the seller . . . if such sale had been for cash." Id. Under the old definition, the retail seller and the buyer must have come to a "meeting of the minds" as to the "cash price." See id. Therefore, in order for an advertisement to establish a "cash price" under the old definition, the plaintiff must have had knowledge of the advertisement and must have relied on that advertisement in determining the price of the vehicle. Id. Under the current definition of "cash price," neither knowledge nor reliance is required. TEX. FIN. CODE ANN. 348.004(a). In Weitzel v. Barnes, the Texas Supreme Court held that, when the Texas Legislature had removed a "reliance" requirement from an amendment to the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, it was error to require proof of "reliance" as a prerequisite to recovery under the act. 691 S.W.2d 598, 600 (Tex. 1985). Similarly, we believe that, given the Legislature's removal of "reliance" from the definition of "cash price" under the Texas Finance Code, the trial judge erred in this case by imposing such a requirement. See id.