Applied Signatures: Balancing Efficiency with Dealer Liability

In recent years, the automotive industry’s heavyweights have been diving into solutions that digitize dealership documents. Among these advancements lies the realm of e-signatures, where the illustrious “Applied” signatures take center stage. Picture this: consumers grace the first document with their ‘Wet’ signature, and thereafter, a simple click bestows their digital seal on subsequent forms. Ah, the sweet symphony of progress! But, as with any technological marvel, lurking beneath the surface are the shadows of dealership liabilities.

Risks Associated with “Applied” Signatures

Let’s dissect the risks entwined with these enigmatic “Applied” signatures:

  1. The Illusion of Review: Behold the classic claim—consumers cry foul, lamenting they were whisked through the digital maze without a glance at the content. Despite the similarities to traditional pen-and-paper signings, the process of “Applied” signatures can inadvertently obscure the content being agreed upon. With a simple click, consumers may overlook crucial details, leading to allegations of uninformed consent.
  • Identity Crisis: Ah, the age-old question—who wielded the digital pen? With “Applied” signatures, the line between consumer and dealer staff blurs like a foggy windshield. Dealership personnel have signed documents on behalf of consumers, exploiting the ease of “Applied” signatures. This blurring of lines can lead to disputes regarding the validity of agreements and undermine consumer trust.

Real Life Story of One Dealership

Illustrating the real-world consequences, my client- a dealership in Connecticut, found itself embroiled in legal challenges stemming from disputes over signed documents twice in one year. In one case, a consumer contested the terms of a vehicle purchase, alleging they were unaware of certain financial aspects. Despite evidence to the contrary, the presence of “Applied” signatures cast doubt on the legitimacy of the agreement, prompting scrutiny from regulatory authorities.

Similarly, another incident saw a consumer’s attorney questioning the authenticity of signed documents, raising doubts about the consumer’s involvement in the transaction. Fortunately, the F&I Manager recalled the consumer in question and was unequivocally confident in refuting the claim, affirming that the customer was indeed present at the dealership and personally completed all paperwork using applied signatures. Subsequently, the F&I Manager took the proactive step of contacting the customer in the presence of their attorney to address the issue directly. To the chagrin of the accuser, the customer conceded that their motivations stemmed from a desire to extricate themselves from the vehicle purchase, rather than any substantiated grievances. With this admission, the case dissolved into oblivion, devoid of merit or standing.

Growing Business of Litigation.

Attorneys are increasingly drawn to the prospect of representing consumers who have signed contracts using “Applied” signatures, recognizing a burgeoning niche ripe for legal intervention. With the proliferation of this technology, coupled with the inherent vulnerabilities it presents, attorneys see an opportunity to advocate for clients who may have unwittingly entered into agreements without full comprehension or consent. Armed with a keen understanding of the potential pitfalls associated with digital signatures, these attorneys actively seek out consumers who may have cause to challenge the validity of their contracts, whether due to alleged coercion, lack of disclosure, or outright misrepresentation. As such, the landscape of consumer advocacy is evolving, with “Applied” signature cases emerging as a focal point for legal scrutiny and recourse.


In essence, while technological advancements offer undeniable benefits, dealerships must exercise caution in adopting new processes. The allure of efficiency should not overshadow the importance of transparency and consumer protection. As such, prudent dealerships may opt to complement digital solutions with electronic wet signature technology, preserving the integrity of the signing process while embracing modernization. In navigating the digital landscape, diligence, and foresight are paramount to safeguarding both business interests and consumer trust.

04.18.2024 Author – Chris Tsiropoulos

Table of Contents

Send Us an Email

We will reply as soon as possible!

Call Us

Talk to our live support agents. 
Customer Support Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM EST