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An Alberta Hospital psychiatric patient is at the centre of a financial quandary after buying a luxury SUV on credit despite being on a disability pension. Sean Amer, a 46-year old diagnosed schizophrenic has suffered from mental illness for the past twenty years. Subject to frequent delusions, he has recently become convinced that he is a millionaire businessman despite having a monthly income of only $1588.
On November 25 of this year, Amer left Alberta Hospital claiming that he was going to get some items from his apartment. Instead, he went on a "car buying rampage" going to different dealerships trying to buy cars. According to his sister and legal guardian, Renee Tessman, Amer has always had a fixation with cars despite being unable to afford one.
After being turned down by different dealerships, he was able to purchase 2014 Jeep Cherokee Laredo for a total of $65,580 including optional warranties. The only security he was able to offer the dealership wasaa prepaid credit card with $500 on it. Despite knowing that he was a mental patient, and even visiting him in the hospital to confirm the financing arrangements, financing was approved. He then took possession of the vehicle and drove it off the lot.
It took six days for workers at Alberta Hospital to void the deal so that the SUV could be returned. Crosstown Auto Centre initially tried to hold Amer to the agreement despite his inability to pay and insisted that the debt was in the hands of the Royal Bank of Canada which had approved the financing. In commenting on what she described as unethical behavior by the car dealership, Renee Tessman said she was "flabbergasted" on hearing that the deal had gone through. “It’s awful. I mean, obviously they know he’s a mental patient, he’s in Alberta Hospital. They should have clued into that. They have no ethics,” she said. “I think they’re just interested in selling cars. If they’re doing this to my brother Sean, who else are they doing this to?”
According to the salesman who sold Amer the SUV, there was nothing usual about his request to purchase the Jeep as well as two Chrysler vehicles for family members. When he came in for a test drive, he asked that the paperwork be completed quickly so he could drive the vehicle home that night. They even agreed to a $4000 down-payment of which the balance would be paid later by his business partner. “He said he owned this company.” the salesman said. “Fine. Who are we to say that doesn’t sound right? Nothing seemed out of the ordinary; it really didn’t.” When they were later contacted by the hospital to cancel the deal, Amer insisted that he still wanted the SUV and the salesman visited him at the hospital to finalize the deal.
Under the Alberta Fair Trading Act, car dealerships are not allowed to "take advantage of the consumer as a result of the consumer’s inability to understand the character, nature, language or effect” of the transaction." The Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council has launched an investigation into the case and the car dealership could face a fine over their conduct. The SUV has since been reclaimed.
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