When language barrier is a hamper to doing business

Buyer beware – confusion after sales license not part of agreement


A Brazilian man who purchased a building and a business from an Everett man recently wanted to have his license to repair cars at the location and to sell used cars as well approved by the City Council Monday night.

The Brazilian man doesn’t speak a word of English.

Councilor Stephanie Martins, who speaks Portuguese and who is Brazilian, served as his translator for the City Council, which bent over backward to approve his license during the ZOOM hearing.

However, before that approval was voted on, about a half-hour discussion among the councilors and the Brazilian man through Martins displayed the difficulties of not speaking English when you have bought a business in Everett or anywhere for that matter.

Anyone buying a business and piece of property here does so under the aegis of the ancient Latin phrase, caveat emptor – buyer beware.

At first blush, it appeared as though the Brazilian man purchased a property and business and was told he could repair cars and sell used cars.

But a license for the sale of used cars could not be found by city officials.

Without a license for used cars, it was pointed out, used cars cannot be legally sold from the lot that this Brazilian man bought.

Councilor Martins tried ex- plaining this to the new owner.

What ensued was a great deal of debate about whether or not to vote for the transfer of the license to this Brazilian fellow unless he had proof that there is an existing license for car sales that transfers with the business.

Several councilors made impassioned pleas that the vote should be taken as it was only a vote on car repairs and there is a car repair license that can be transferred.

This is what was before them. This is what should be approved, City Clerk Sergio Cornelio told them.

Those who spoke in favor of this strategy said they didn’t want to stop anyone from making money who had just bought a building and a business.

Several other councilors were worried that transferring the car repair license would probably be followed by cars being sold from the lot, and that isn’t allowed.

In the end, the council agreed to pass the transfer of the car repair license.

The council suggested that if the man wants to do car sales from the lot, he will have to apply for the license as if that would be a walk through the park.

What no one told the Brazilian man who did not seem to understand much of the to do, is that when he applies for a car sale license, such a license requires public advertisement and community input and that the neighbors were sure to have something to say about this to the new owner, who is not from here and who can’t speak English as opposed to allowing the old owner, an Everett resident, to operate without a car sales license, as he apparently did for years.

That’s what you call caveat emptor – buyer beware – in any language.

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