Monday

Car Dealer Fluffing and Liar Loans Can Hurt You and Your Bank

This is an open letter to the Miami Valley motor vehicle dealership employee who sent us the anonymous letter that is attached. And an invitation to coffee and donuts.

Yes, we are aware that there are some dealers in Ohio who apparently have engaged in some deceptive, fraudulent sales practices in the last few years, taking advantage of both consumers and banks and putting everyone at risk while they line their pockets with money they otherwise wouldn't get.

Their lies make them big profits at the expense of everyone else. And the lies - well, that's why they are called Liar Loans. The New York Times interviewed us about it recently because we had so many car sales fraud cases involving this kind of fraud.

You say that after work a few drinks at a local pub they get to talking about what they do to customers and banks to make money. How they can get loans for people who can't qualify for a loan or don't have down payment money or are not making much money, and how the dealer employees "fix" a credit application by "giving them a raise on the bank application stating the customer makes more money than they really do" and that they create fake down payments to get loan approval, among other things.

It's called Bank Fraud and Conspiracy and some dealers are doing it.
And yes, you are right, faking a down payment can sometimes get the dealer people a higher kickback from the banks, because the banks think the buyer has more money invested in the vehicle so the buyer is less likely to default on the loan. And you say that some dealer employees tell the banks that the vehicle being sold has extra-cost optional equipment on it that doesn't really exist? Yes, I have seen and heard that one before too.

And you say that they alter the new vehicle invoice in order to get banks to make loans to people no matter what they owe? And they "laugh at how stupid the banks are," with all their money to loan out and the banks just "look the other way?" Yes, we have heard those stories too. Some banks won't bite the hand that feeds them and they don't want the public to know how easily they were ripped off. Those banks also don't want the bank examiners to know.

It alarms you? It should. This kind of stuff is called "fluffing" in the retail motor vehicle sales industry. The FBI calls it Bank Fraud and it's a federal crime. And when two or more people get together to do it, it's called Conspiracy. That's exactly what some employees at one car dealership found out the hard way. Check out this FBI press release.

"As managers and salesmen in a car dealership, these defendants falsified customer information used to make loans, defrauding the banks who trusted the dealership to present truthful information during the vehicle financing process, and harming customers by fraudulently inflating the value of the vehicles they purchased," said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance in a statement reported by industry magazine F&I Showroom. "This type of fraud is the auto-industry equivalent of the mortgage fraud that contributed to the financial meltdown, and could threaten the security of our financial markets.”

Rumor has it that the FBI (in Ohio and elsewhere) is looking far more closely at this kind of fraud than ever before. Meanwhile, people are getting hurt.

Fluffing a credit app hurts the consumer because it buries them in debt they can't really afford and locks them into a loan payment schedule that many of them are doomed to fail.

It hurts banks because they make loan decisions and take on financial risks based on fraudulent credit information given them by their partnering vehicle dealers. And, as the US Attorney in an Alabama case put it, that is how the financial collapse of 2009 was triggered when these Liar Loans ran wild in the mortgage industry.

And now Liar Loans have come to a car dealership near you. And some Rv dealers too.

In the long run, Liar Loans hurt everyone but the thieves at the dealership, who pocket the big money. And when caught, they often run, leaving a legitimate dealer with an office full of trouble. Of course, that assumes the owner of the dealership didn't know it was going on in the first place.

But then again, we've also heard that some dealers are run by the very persons who seem to be telling the dealer employees how to do these things. It has gotten so bad that we now have about four dozen consumer clients who are victims of this fluffing ripoff. And you can tell when "it flows downhill" when one person owns several dealership locations and multiple locations are accused of doing the same thing to different consumers. Sometimes fraud is not accidental. Sometimes fraud is organized.

An anonymous letter from you is nice, sure. But we really need witnesses who know the truth about what was done, how it was done, and who did it at your dealership. We'll meet with you "off the record" and just as anonymously, if it helps us get to more of the truth. Our door has been open before and is always open to learning the truth about the few crooked dealer employees who make it bad for everyone.

People are getting ripped off. Banks are getting ripped off.

If you know anything about car sales fraud, stop by our office for a cup of coffee and a chat sometime. If you aren't part of the solution, then you may become part of the problem.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves, Everyday

30 Million GM Vehicles Recalled in 2014, And Still Counting

Without a doubt, GM is the King of Recalls for 2014. And with 3 more months still to go, CNN says that there are over a million GM vehicles on the road whose recall has yet to be performed.

Two days ago GM announced the recall of Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet Caprice and Cadillac vehicles after disclosing that on some of the vehicles if you hit the ignition key with your knee the key can rotate into a non-running mode. Does that mean it can cause the engine to shut off and the car to go into Accessory Mode? That's not clear but this writer doesn't want to find out. But then again, at least you can still listen to the radio as your car careens down the interstate, folks.

Even worse, the recalled Chevy Caprice model is the police car version.

In fact, the GM recall situation is so bad that GM has set up a special "Recall Center" website so GM owners can go there and find out if their GM-build vehicle is on any recall list. If you own a GM car or truck, having to check a special website for your recalls may not make you feel better about the vehicle's reliability - or about the ability of the company's engineering department either.


Image from USNews
The latest GM recalls total another 60,000 and involve -


2008 - 2009 Pontiac G6
2011 - 2013 Chevrolet Caprice PPV (police patrol vehicles)
2004 - 2007 Cadillac CTS-V
2006 - 2007 Cadillac STS-V
2014 Chevrolet Sonic

So, if you've got a GM vehicle, better safe than sorry so go check the GM Recall Center website and see if you need to call your GM dealer to make a "fix my recall" appointment.


Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons for More than 25 Years

Friday

Give Them Back Their Rights, Court of Appeals Says

Arbitration sucks, we've said it before and we'll say it again. Arbitration sucks

But whatever you think about it, in Ohio a binding mandatory arbitration clause can not be used to take away a consumer's rights under Ohio's Udap law, the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. Still, more and more arbitration clauses are trying to not only take away a consumer's right to go to court, but to also change the laws they can use.

Ohio's Udap law, the CSPA, makes it illegal for any merchant to do anything that is "unfair or deceptive" (the words in the law) to a consumer. And if they do, then the consumer may be able to recover triple their actual damages, attorney fees, and up to $5,000 in non economic damages for aggravation and inconvenience, etc. Car dealers hate this law.

Its no wonder then that Autos Direct, a Cleveland area internet-based car dealer, was sticking mandatory and binding arbitration clauses in its sales paperwork with consumers. But it went one step further and added a sentence that said "The non-prevailing party shall pay, and the arbitrators shall award the prevailing party's arbitration costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees." Lawyers call that a "loser pays" clause and it means that if you are going to sue the car dealer then you sure better win or they might go after you to make you pay their attorney fees. But that's not what the the law in Ohio says.

In other words, car dealers like Autos Direct not only wanted you to not be able to go into a courtroom where the public can find out what they did to you, but they also didn't want you to be able to use consumer protection laws against them at all. Ah, c'mon, guys, don't you think that's a little too much?

Well the Eighth District Court of Appeals thought so, when it decided Tamara Hedeen v Autos Direct Online, Inc. on Sept 25, 2014, and tossed out their arb clause.

 Attorney Beth Wells, with Burdge Law Office in Dayton, Ohio, reports that the appellate court ruled that "where a consumer's CSPA (Ohio's Udap law) claim is subject to binding arbitration, limitations on a consumer's right should not be allowed by a private arbitration forum." A couple of pages later in the court decision, the appellate judges threw out the arbitration clause entirely and held that Ms Hedeen now has the right to go to court.

In Hadeen's case, the court noted, she had bought a used 2011 Mercedes online for $28,000 and later discovered that it had sustained over $20,000 in undisclosed damage and over $7,000 of the damage had never been repaired. It's things like that which explain why some car dealers don't want consumers to go to court at all. Hadeen filed her case against the dealership with claims that they had committed unfair and deceptive acts in violation of Ohio's Udap law and Ohio's little-known Motor Vehicle Sales Rule, OAC 109:4-3-109.

A public court, where the public can see what is happening in our Justice system - that's what Justice should be all about. A Big Round of Applause to Attorney Beth Wells on a job well done.


Burdge Law Office
www.BurdgeLaw.com
Helping Consumers Get Justice, Everyday

Tuesday

Things are Cozy in Korea for Kia and Hyundai

Money Talks at Hyundai & Kia
A few days ago we wrote about how the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate had just spent over $10 Billion to buy the land for the new corporate headquarters they intend to build (for another $6 Billion) in Korea. And we asked you to look down at your feet. They take up a little less than one square foot. Are you wearing $18,851 shoes? Because that's how much Hyundai paid for each square foot of the land they so lavishly bought.

And they bought it from the government. Oh yeah, the same government that set free the company's CEO in spite of his conviction for embezzlement and corruption charges involving a $106 million slush fund.

Well in the last few days Hyundai has published several full page newspaper ads welcoming the South Korean President Park Geun-hye to the UN. One must wonder - is he wearing $18,851 shoes too?

Ahhh, Hyundai. The company that builds cars and quietly slips into their car warranties mandatory binding arbitration clauses that prevent consumers from suing them when that shiny sparkling car becomes a lemon. Meanwhile, they lavishly spend money, court political and industrial favors from the rich and powerful - and shabbily treat their own customers.

Like we said years ago, friends don't let friends buy Hyundai. Or Kia. And apparently some folks strongly agree.

Before you buy your next new or used car, think about where it is made and what rich politicians and foreign nationals profit from you hard earned money. And think about how they want to take away your rights so they can sell you a car and stick you with a lemon.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves for more than 25 years

Friday

The $18,851 Shoes at Hyundai

The last time you had a problem getting warranty to pay for a repair to your Hyundai or Kia, did you wonder what they were doing with their money? Well, maybe they were saving it up, as Americans buy more and more foreign cars.

Just how much money do you think Hyundai would pay for the land on which to build their new headquarters building in Seoul, Korea - land owned by an agency of the South Korean government?

Which number below do you think is closest to what they agreed to pay, just for the land itself mind you, without going over the actual number -
$18,851 per square foot - a waste of money?

$500,000?
$1,000,000?
$2,000,000?
$5,000,000?
$10,000,000?

Whatever your guess, you aren't even close. It was so much that when it was announced, Hyundai's stock took a nose dive because they paid three times what the land was said to be worth.

"...nonsense. I was stunned," said the fund manager for an investment company that owned stock in the company, according to Automotive News and reports from ABC News. He was no happier about it than many other stockholders, some of whom probably had no clue how much cash the company was sitting on (maybe more) in its cash reserves.

Would you believe $10 billion? Yup. And their plans for the property will reportedly cost another $6 billion to develop and construct. The size of the land is only 854,030 square feet. Our desk calculator won't go beyond one billion but if our hand written calculations are right, that comes out to $18,851 per square foot of land. Look down at your feet. They take up a little less than one square foot. Are you wearing $18,851 shoes? Apparently Hyundai is.

One commenter at Automotive News joked that Hyundai paid "Triple appraised value for a government owned property. The same government that granted the CEO freedom from prison. No, I see no connection," referring to the conviction of CEO Chung Mong-koo on embezzlement and corruption charges involving a $106 million corporate slush fund. On Korea’s 63rd Independence Day, the ministry of Justice granted a special pardon to eliminate all charges and sentences.

Hyundai sells several dozen model vehicles with prices ranging from $16,000 to $64,000 but you have to sell a lot of cars to plunk down that much just to buy some land to build a glitzy headquarters building.

Got a Hyundai lemon? Got a Kia lemon? And they won't or can't fix it? Give us a call. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumer Get Rid of Lemon Cars, Everyday.

Tuesday

Most Common Car Complaints? CarComplaints.com has the Answers

This post is not an advertisement but a loud applause for some great work being done by CarComplaints.com. What these guys do, they do very well.

Don't buy a lemon. That seems like an easy enough thought to keep in mind when you go car shopping. But how do you avoid it?

One way is to check the current ratings of the best and the worst vehicles on reliable web sites like this one. Frankly, we have seen a lot of complaint web sites come and go over the years, but this one sticks around and gives consumers remarkably useful data - and that's what you need so that you don't end up with a lemon.

Thinking of buying a used Honda Accord? Well, while Honda typically builds a good vehicle, but did you know that CarComplaints reports that the 2008 Accord has more complaints about premature brake wear than any other complaint about any other car? So the moral is simple - avoid that one unless you know how to replace those brakes or have some money set aside to pay for it.

But if you don't check, you don't know. And if you don't know, you can end up with an expensive four-wheeled lemon on your hands.

You can find not just the worst cars at this website but also the best (note that the Accord isn't listed as the best Honda for any model year).

And their Recent Trends page shows summaries of the most recent complaints received. Like for instance the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango that is reported to have lots of "TPM" related runability troubles too - which backs up the 160+ owner complaints filed with NHTSA, the federal recall agency.

Bottom line is simple, don't get a lemon car, new or used. And one way to avoid it is to do your homework first by checking out online complaints and ratings and reviews at websites like this one, frankly, folks.

And if you do end up with a lemon, well, that's what we're here for.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons Everyday


Chrysler Under Safety Investigation by Feds, Again

Chrysler says it is investigating electronic problems in its cars that could affect millions of its most popular cars and trucks and minivans, according to USA Today reporter James Healey.

The investigation, you can bet, is being mirrored by government safety regulators, quietly looking at the same and more complaints about electronic problems, including engine stalling complaints. Federal safety investigators at NHTSA start their safety investigations low and slow, often going unnoticed by the media. But you can bet Chrysler is watching carefully.

The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer watchdog group, filed a petition requesting federal safety investigators take a close look at the numerous consumer-owner complaints that they say are linked to the Chrysler "total integraed power module" that controls a vehicle's computer "brain." Chrysler has said that it had an investigation already underway but has not said when it actually started. That date could be a clue on when the quantity of complaints rose to a level that caught Chrysler's attention.

Apparently there are hundreds of complaints and some say the vehicle can quit running, leaving the operator facing a dangerous traffic situation that can cause an accident or injury to the driver or other drivers.

Apparently power windows, theft alarms, even the ignition system could be affected by a faulty TIPM module, raising a risk of stalling that can kill the engine and shut off power assist to steering and braking systems. USA Today reports that in some models it can disable the airbag systems too.

No doubt about it, this can be a deadly defect. If your Chrysler vehicle has any electronic problem at all, don't take a chance. Get it in to your dealer immediately. If they stall you, ask them point blank if your problem can lead to stalling. If you get a run around, then demand they give you a loaner.

You don't want to be driving a stalling Chrysler on the highway.

Remember, in Ohio a dealer only gets one chance to fix a deadly defect. The second time it happens, you've got a lemon. And when you get a lemon, you are entitled to your money back or a replacement. Who knows - maybe they'll fix it in time for the replacement they build you.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemon cars and trucks for more than 25 years

Wednesday

Who Makes the Most Lemon Cars?

The myth has for years been that European and Asian cars are made better than the ones that Detroit turns out. That may have been true when your father bought his cars, but not so much anymore.

The auto industry recognized the quality problems it had back in the 1980's and has spent the last two decades rebuilding its quality and its reputation for American-made excellence. It was a hard lesson, sure, and GM and Chrysler felt the worst of it five years ago when they filed for bankruptcy. But they came back.

How can you tell the quality is up for American-built cars? Federal safety investigators track recall statistics and they show that during the last two decades, the quantity of recalls of foreign cars has been going up while the quantity of recalls for US-made cars has been going down. Take a look at the Toyota debacle, for instance, where millions of cars were recalled during the last 5 years of production.

Massive Asian Recalls Getting More Common?
Almost any list of most common lemon cars is topped by Asian manufactured cars anymore, often in the top 3 or 4 spots before any US made car shows up on the list.

We've seen the same thing in our lemon car cases here at Burdge Law Office, where we have concluded that the only reason for the quantity of lemon US cars seems to be the higher quantity of US-made cars being sold.

Still, when you have a lemon it doesn't matter who made it - it's still a headache, a heartache, and a walletache too. So shop carefully and before you buy a new or used car, check with the federal recall website to see what the last few model years of that car have been like. That way you don't waste your money.

Burdge Law Office
Helping people get rid of lemons for more than 25 years.

Aston Martin - We're Too Busy Making Money to Build Safe Cars Too - Give Us a Break!

Side impact crashes injure more often
In 2007 the federal safety agency in charge of setting safety standards for motor vehicles sold in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wanted to protect passengers from side crashes into things like utility poles and trees so they set a new standard for side impact crash protection.

That's because over the last 20 years frontal crashes have gone down while side impact crashes have increased by more than 20%.

Like most new vehicle safety standards, it was argued about and fought over before it finally became law. One of the compromises in the process was that the new law would would not begin to take effect for 3 years and that complete phase-in compliance would not be required for 7 years. So motor vehicle manufacturers had up to 7 years to redesign their cars to add greater side impact protection and comply with the new law. 

Are they too busy making money to build safe cars?
The law was passed in 2007 and was to be complied with by September 1, 2014. Plenty of time to get the job done, right?

So all the manufacturers started working on it and now they all comply. Except one.



Aston Martin, who apparently has been busy building and selling their expensive sports cars, has filed a request to postpone their convertible car model compliance for another 2 and 3 years. And their reason for the requested extension? Being unable to sell the soft-top cars would reduce their new car gross profits.

Buy a 2014 Aston Martin DB9 for just $214,000
The Aston Martin DB9, which carries a $214,000 MSRP, won't comply with federal safety standards until August 2016. The Aston Martin Vantage, with its paltry $126,000 MSRP, won't comply until August 2017.

Meanwhile, Aston Martin saw a 2013 sales jump of 11%, so the cash is certainly flowing.

The world's 8 top auto makers complied with the new safety standard and none of them saw their sales jump 11% in 2013 but Aston Martin did.

Will Money Buy NHTSA's forgiveness?
GM had a 2013 sales drop of 6.3% but it has complied with the new safety standard. VW had a whopping 2013 sales drop of 22.7% but it complied. Hyundai and Kia dropped 2% but they complied. Toyota dropped 1.7% but they complied.

Ford sales only increased by 1.8% but they complied. Honda scrapped by with a 1.9% increase but they complied. Chrysler sales increased 6% and they complied and Nissan, with an increase of 10.5%, complied too.

NHTSA should not reward Aston Martin for its decision to make more money instead of complying with a federal safety standard that they saw coming 7 years ago. They had 7 years to get around to it and instead focused on the almighty buck and big bucks at that. Aston Martin has no excuse. They do make beautiful sports cars, sure. And expensive ones, too. Let's hope that money is not what makes the safety decision at NHTSA on this.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons for more than 25 years.
It's what we do.

Friday

In 31 Weeks, GM Recalls 29 Million Vehicles

Image from KSPR.com
GM issued 5 more recalls today, covering another 269,000 vehicles. That makes a total of 29 million GM vehicles recalled in the first 31 weeks of the year, 219 days so far this year. 

That's roughly 132,420 GM vehicles recalled per day, 7 days a week. How did things get this bad?

GM recalls announced August 8, 2014:

2002, 2003, 2004 Saturn Vue vehicles (202,115), for ignition key cylinder problems that could lead to a crash and injury. These Saturn vehicles join thousands of other GM ignition key cylinder recalls already released.


2013 Buick Encore and 2013 Cadillac ATS vehicles (48,059), because of seat belt system failure dangers that could lead to a failure to hold the occupant in position during an accident. Remember that song by James Taylor with the line that goes "slip, slidding away" ? It's not funny if it's you that is slipping and sliding away during an accident.

2014, 1015 Chevrolet Impala LT and LTZ sedans (14,940), because of latching problems on a passenger storage compartment that, in an accident, could injure occupants. On August 1 GM instructed dealers not to sell the affected vehicles until they are fixed, but we have been told of at least one dealer in Ohio who has ignored such GM orders and sold vehicles that were on the GM "do not sell" list. Parts that fly around the inside of a car in an accident? That's not supposed to happen, obviously.

2009, 2010 Chevrolet Aveo and 2009 Pontiac G3 vehicles (1,966), for brake system problems that can reduce brake system "performance" - in other words, the car won't stop on time and/or right, increasing the risk of a crash and injury. This problem was the subject of a "secret warranty" that started back in 2012 but has now been called a full-blown recall. This could be a deadly defect if your brakes fail just when you need them.


Image Copyright US News
2014 Chevrolet Spark minicars (1,919), because of the danger of loose control arm attaching bolts. This potentially deadly defect is so serious that GM is telling owners NOT to drive their vehicles but to have the car "transported" to the nearest Chevy dealer for inspection and any necessary repair. The control arm is a critical part associated with keeping your front wheels on the car, folks. Not something to mess around with.

One has to wonder how many GM cars are built in one day but at this rate, they appear to be recalling them faster than they can build them.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons, it's what we do.

Monday

Does it look like $3 Million?
Yahoo News is reporting that a gold plated Rv has been sold in the oil-rich country of Dubai for $3,000,000 to an undisclosed buyer.

The double-decker, futuristic design Rv, named EleMMent Pallazzo (that's not a typo), was manufactured by the Austrian builder, Marchi Mobile, and comes with a pop-up rooftop terrace - for the lazy sunshine days in the dessert no doubt - along with a cocktail lounge, fireplace, underfloor heating, and all the luxury extras imaginable. More info can be seen at the YouTube video linked here.

And with a topping out speed somewhere north of 93 mph, it's no slouch on the highway either. And with glow in the dark exterior paint, you can see it flash by in the night darkness too.

Marchi Mobile recently opened a US subsidiary to sell their Rv's here in the states. We will go out on a limb here and bet that it's doubtful if the gold plated version will sell very well here. And Lord (or Allah) help the owner if it turns out to be a lemon.

Meanwhile, if you get a lemon Rv, don't put up with any stalling. Getting rid of your lemon Rv and getting your money back is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons, everyday.

What happens when you buy a car and never get the title?

You never become the owner, that's what. But you may not be totally stuck because there are laws to protect innocent buyers against crooked and ripoff car dealers. 

Not only will you have lots of legal rights, but selling a car in Ohio and not delivering title can be a criminal act too.

First, let's talk a little about the law and your rights. Then, we'll talk about how to get your money back.

The Law on Car Title Fraud

In Ohio, like most states, the only way a person can have a legal interest in a motor vehicle is if their name is on the vehicle title. Nothing else counts. That means you have to have a title issued in your name to be the vehicle's owner. It also means that you can’t own a car and you can’t legally sell a car without having the title in your name either.
 
If you buy a car and never get title to it, then in Ohio, again like most states, you have the right to cancel the sale and get your money back.

If you bought a vehicle from a car dealer and have not gotten the title yet, then the first thing to do is contact them and ask where it is and when you will get it. If you don’t want to wait any longer then you may already have the right to cancel the sale since failing to deliver the title to the buyer would be a breach of the sale contract.

Car dealers who don’t deliver title to their buyer often do that for several reasons. One is that they haven’t paid off the finance company that loaned them the money to buy it in the first place. Another may be that the person or dealer they bought it from has not gotten title yet either. Whatever the reason, it does not matter.

The obligation to put the title into the buyer’s name is on the car dealer to live up to. If the don’t do it within the time allowed by the law in your state (Ohio says 40 days and most states say between 30 and 45 days), then they lose. It can be that simple.

Okay, so you are right and the dealer is wrong, but you still don't have a title. Now what? There are two legal things you can do and lost of non-court things you can do.

Your Legal Rights

Legally, your options are limited. You can file a claim with the state or you can sue the dealer.

Ohio's Rescission Fund

Like many other states, Ohio has a Rescission Fund administered by the Ohio Attorney General. If you buy a car and never get the title then you can file a claim your money back from the state. If you succeed in the process, then they will refund your out of pocket money and take the vehicle and then the Ohio Attorney General has the right to go after the dealer to recover the money they pay to you.

Sue The Dealer

Or, you can sue the dealer to make them take it back and refund your money. Failing to deliver title is not just a breach of the sale contract but also a violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Ohio Commercial Code, the Advertisement and Sale of Motor Vehicles law, the Motor Vehicle Dealer Licensing Law, and probably Fraud in the first place.


Bottom line? If you don't get your title within 45 days, then start complaining to the dealer and make your complaint short and sweet. If you want to cancel the sale, tell them. If you just want the title so you can keep the car, give them a deadline. Put it all in writing, a short one page letter, and tell them if they don't answer you within, say, 7 or 10 days, then you will contact the state, etc.

And when the deadline passes, it's time to act.

Other Things You Can Do

Other consumers need to know what car dealers can not be trusted too and there are ways you can help spread the word.

And don't forget Yelp and other local search engine reviewing that you can do too.


The Squeaky Wheel still gets the grease. So don't give up, don't quit, and remember - if you don't protect yourself, no one else will. And when you get ripped off, fight back. If you can't get it done on your own, then contact a Consumer Lawyer to help fight for your rights.

Burdge Law Office
Did you get ripped off? Get Burdge Law on your side.

Tuesday

Is Your Car Manufacturer Driven to Safety or Merely Driving You Nuts?

There seems to have been a lot of recalls lately, which has to make you wonder if the car manufacturers are being pushed to recall cars by a concern for safety or a real fear of federal investigations and a public relations disaster.

One thing we know is that the Recall Record has been broken, with more recalls so far this year than in any single entire year since records started being kept. Good grief, are they making them that badly?

Are they being driven to safety by a desire to fix defective vehicles or or are they just driving you nuts by ignoring your lemon while admitting to millions of defective vehicles in other owners' hands?

General Motors announced another 3 million plus vehicles recalled June 16, 2014. Chrysler announced it was recalling Freightliner Cascadia trucks in June too. In June Forest River recalled their 2014 XLR travel trailers. Even BMW recalled a bunch of their motorcycles in June.

Is it just a case of summertime recall blues?

Frankly, with the huge cost of performing recalls, they don't happen for no reason at all. GM already has projected a multi-billion dollar cost for its recalls this year.

It may be that the non-GM companies are doing their recalls now simply because GM is in the news so much with its recall notices that anyone else has a good chance of not having their recalls publicized much right now. It may also be that they have learned "the GM lesson" about hiding 57 cent repairs and getting caught.
Photo from Consumer Reports

For just a few pennies more than a postage stamp, GM could have fixed those ignition switches. But General Motors decided to put the lives of their customers at serious risk and keep it a secret. And when one person sued them over the defect GM already knew existed, GM made them keep their settlement a secret and keep secret the evidence that was uncovered in their lawsuit too. So the next person who died in a GM car from the same defect? They never even knew.

GM put millions of dangerously defective cars on the road and at least 13 people died while they covered it up. Inside G.M., the nation’s largest automaker, some of the 13 victims name appeared on charts and graphs with a date and a single word: “fatal.”

GM got caught and now they are the poster child for big corporate greed that picks profits over the lives of its customers. And they would have gotten away with it entirely but for the media investigations that finally brought their secret into the light. And the Court cases that finally came to light.

For over a decade General Motors used secret agreements to hide the truth about their secret ignition switch settlements. Meanwhile more people were injured or died and far more drivers were frightened when they experienced it too but managed to live through it.

For a decade, GM made its profits and kept the truth silent with its secret settlements. And it was all perfectly legal. You can read how they abused the legal system to keep their customers from knowing about their defects - just click here. Heck, you can read about it in today's USA Today editorial too.

There's a way that maybe you can stop the next big car company from hiding the truth. There's a way that maybe you can force them to stop keeping secrets. It's a change in the law that is now pending in Congress that would stop such secret settlements as the type GM used to keep its customers from knowing about the millions of cars affected by its bad ignition switches. It's called the Sunshine in Litigation Act. But it will never become law without your help.

This bill, now pending in Congress, only requires that a Court approve any request to keep secret information "relevant to the protection of
public health or safety" before that kind of information can be kept from the public by a manufacturer who is in Court charged with selling unsafe products. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? You would not think that any sensible person would want companies to be able to hide the defects they know about. But right now they can. And unless you do something about it, the law won't change.


Companies who build safe consumer products don't need to worry about the Sunshine in Litigation Act. Companies who have secrets to hide are the ones who don't want this law passed. Them and their lobbies who pay and contribute millions of dollars to "influence" the halls of Congress.

The men and women of Congress like the donations, of course. But they also have a healthy respect for letters and emails from back home - that's where you are and that's what you can do right now.

It's easy to support the Sunshine in Litigation Act - just click here to send an email to your congressional representatives. Tell them you have a right to know the next time someone values your life at 57 cents. And you want Congress to make sure someone tells you about it.

Without your help, it will be business as usual. And remember, that was exactly what killed those 13 people.

If you've got a lemon that caused an injury, see a personal injury lawyer near you. If you've just got a lemon that you don't want to get injured by, you can call us. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons everyday.

Tuesday

Recalls Are Big Headaches for Consumers, but Big Money for Dealers

While engineers continue to crow about cars that are "better designed" than ever, the recalls just keep mounting. It seems like GM is announcing a recall every couple of days.

It's a big headache to consumers. Since 1990, The Detroit Big 3 have recalled about a third of a billion cars and that's a lot of repair work.

In that same time frame, Japanese car makers have recalled just about 100 million and German brands have recalled only about 15 million. If you look at that alone, it appears the Germans build a better car.

But US car dealers aren't getting rich off the German recalls. The Big 3 dealers are though.

We don't want to sound like we are picking on GM, but industry experts predict that GM alone will spend $2 billion just to fix the roughly 16 million cars it has recalled so far this year.

When it comes to making money, GM dealers are smiling all the way to the bank and so are other dealers doing recall work. And the suppliers who build the replacement parts? They are smiling too, of course. It's big business, fixing things that should have been built right in the first place.

According to Automotive News in October 2013, about a third of all recalls have to do with one of only four car systems - the fuel system, the brakes, airbags and seat belts. When you add the power train, it totals almost half of all recalls.

And Monday, June 16, GM added another 3.16 million cars to its totals so far this year. Got a GM car? Don't be surprised if you get a friendly letter from GM in your mail soon too.

If you get a recall, get your car into the dealer right away. If they don't have the parts yet, then ask the service manager if your car is safe to drive. Anything but an unequivocal "yes" should be taken as a big NO. If so, then tell them you want a free loaner car to use until they get it fixed. If you still don't like the answer, then ask to talk to the dealership manager. Then the owner. Then ask for the factory phone number you can call.


The moral is simple. The squeaky wheel still gets the grease, so keep complaining. And make notes of what each person says to you, date and time. This is where Murphy's Law applies.

As sure as you do it, it'll all work out and you won't need it. And as sure as you don't, you will end up wishing you did. And when push comes to shove, let us do the shoving for you.

Burdge Law Office
Getting rid of lemons. It's what we do.

Thursday

Now YOU Can Follow The CIA, Instead of Just Them Following You

Who's Following You?
The CIA is famous for its secret legal briefs to justify eavesdropping and following of all of the rest of us. Well, it turns out that now you can follow them too.
Although burdened with all of the spying work, the CIA found time to open their own Twitter account on June 11. No doubt before doing so they put a team of their crack agents together on what their first tweet should be.
While we can never know the months of research, meetings, group conferences, and thought that went into it, they did come up with an astounding and insightful first tweet, "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet."  Yeah, that took a lot of work.

Knowing who it is though, the real question is - if you "follow" them, will they also "follow" you? Be careful out there.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumer Protect Themselves for Over 25 Years

Wednesday

Arbitration Still Sucks - And it Sucks More Often

Good looks can be deceiving.
In a recent case a consumer complained to us that they had bought a late model Chevrolet Impala that looked and ran great, right up to when it didn't just a few months after they bought it. Then a knocking noise started in the front end, the transmission starting jerking and the tires were cupping. One thing led to another and they found out that it had been in a multi-car accident that was so bad it had to be towed away from the scene.

When you buy a wrecked and poorly repaired car and the selling car dealership hides that fact from you, you probably think you should have the right to make them buy it back and go to Court if they refuse, right? Well, maybe you do and maybe you don't.

This particular new car dealer in Strongsville, Ohio - like many car dealers nowadays - has a little clause printed in their sales contract that says when you buy a car from them, you agree you will never sue them. Buy a car from them and you lose your right to do anything about it in Court. Think you can fight it? Well, think again.

Binding Mandatory Arbitration clauses like that are getting slipped into more and more consumer transactions - very often without the consumer even knowing it. Take breakfast cereal.

Eat cereal and lose your rights?
Did you know that if you bought a General Mills cereal product, say Cheerios or Lucky Charms, etc, or even if you just "liked" them on Facebook, that you were giving up your constitutional right to go to Court if you ever had a dispute with them? Yup. And Heaven help you if you used one of their coupons. True, they recently rewrote their arbitration clause after it became widely reported by the media, by generously saying that just going on Facebook or Twitter would not be covered by the "you can't sue us ever" clause anymore.

But really, folks, if you use a 25 cent coupon and your breakfast cereal turns out to have rat poisen in it, don't you think you should have the right to go to Court over it if you have to?

Little by little, big corporations are taking away your legal rights. It isn't the government that is stripping away your legal rights. And while the nut jobs out there may scream otherwise, it isn't Congress and it isn't the President either. Don't believe it? Check your Direct Tv contract. Your Verizon cell phone contract. Or any of your credit card contracts. You can see a whole list of companies who are doing it to you and read what happened to ordinary people who got nailed by the arbitration hammer at the Public Citizen website.


Binding mandatory arbitration is spreading like a virus and it's attacking you and your rights and you don't even know it.


But back to that Chevy owner. It turns out that the car dealer uses an arbitration clause that says you can never take them to Court over anything at all. So, if someone comes out of the dealership after you with a baseball bat - tough luck. If they lie to you about that car being in perfect condition when really it's a wrecked and badly repaired car - tough luck. And if they sell you a bad transmission - tough luck.


Avoid the Trap. Protect Yourself
All you get to do is pay to go to their private "system" where you will sit in a private room (no public allowed) and try to convince a person picked by the car dealer why they should make the car dealer do something for you. Oh, and you have to pay them for their time. And if they don't side with the car dealer, then the car dealer can just change their paperwork and pick someone else - so whose side do you think they will be on?

Maybe it's time to say "give me back my rights" and start reading your paperwork carefully - and stop doing business with the companies who sell you their products with one hand, take your money with the other hand, and then give you the boot if you catch them ripping you off.

The NRA refuses to let anyone trample on the everyday person's right to bear arms, sure. But who is out there to protect your right to a fair, impartial and public legal system, one where you can go to find Justice? You have to do that for yourself.

So the next time you see something in a contract or paperwork that talks about "arbitration" just take your ink pen out and put a great big "X" over it. If that car dealer wants your money bad enough (and he does), he will take it. And if he doesn't, then you should ask yourself "just what are they doing to me that they are afraid to let a judge and jury find out about?"

And if you already are stuck with an arbitration clause, don't give up. We fight those too. And we win. Fighting a rigged arbitration system by yourself is an uphill battle so don't go it alone. Why do we fight? Frankly, we like fighting for Justice. It's what keeps the bad guys in check.

Arbitration Sucks. More often than ever.


Burdge Law Office
Protecting consumers everyday for more than 25 years.

Rip of the Week - How'd the Payment Get So High?

video

Ever wonder how your car payment got so high without you realizing it? Well, there's a method to some car dealer's madness when it comes to getting into your wallet. Here's one example. We call it our Rip of the Week. Come back next week for another tip on how to keep from getting ripped off when you buy your next car or truck.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumer Protect Themselves, Every Day

Saturday

Thank a Veteran. They Earned it.

This guest post is remarkable and remarkably accurate. It's also timely for this weekend. Slow down this weekend and read it. Then give your thanks to a vet. Too many times we speak without thinking in life. This weekend, think about it and then speak it to a veteran near you.
Older veterans of WWII, Korea, Nam and other periods of service are becoming few and far between with many passing on every day, but you're bound to have plenty of them in your past and many still in your midst yet right now. From the Revolutionary War of 1775, through the wars 'to end all wars' down to the many undeclared 'police actions' and current conflicts, you've had a father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, other family member or friend, directly involved in some sort of service to your country.

Some came back in pieces. Many never came back at all. Some were left to rot where they fell, buried in the rubble of war. Some were blown away on unknown battlefields. Some went down in the bellies of their ships, gasping for that last precious breath of life. All were far from family and friends and loved ones. Some, who never knew any higher power existed, suddenly found themselves calling out with a new found fervor on finding that civilized man is quite capable of treating fellow humans in ungodly ways.

Some were left behind, forgotten as POW or MIA pawns to be debated, bargained for and traded as years wore on. Most of those who served who eventually got back home were profoundly changed mentally, physically and spiritually.

Whether it was a member of the Concord Militia, an early patriot that fought with Washington, a later Doughboy, GI Joe, Grunt or plain 'ol groundpounder you owe them all a debt that can never be fully repaid.

Visit Valley Forge, the beaches of Normandy, Pork Chop Hill or any of the other many fields now history. Put yourself in those boots. Imagine what went on and just what life was like for those doing what they felt was right at the time, for a cause they believed in.

Support the many veterans still here, who have given for you, your children, your grandchildren and on down the line forevermore. Encourage your Congressman to place high priority on the promises made and to meet the needs of those who have given much for the freedom of all. Support and join your local organizations that represent veterans.

Fly your flag. Stand tall when watching a parade that includes veterans. Put a flag on their graves to reaffirm your thankfulness and show your respect.

Think of what it is for you to be standing, living and breathing, while a veteran, who helped provide the freedom you too often take for granted, lies six feet under.

Don't do it just on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day or other holidays. Do it in your minds, hearts and deeds every day of the year.
Why should you do any less ??

This post is courtesy of a beloved veteran of World War II, my father, Dale Burdge, who lives in Georgia now, relaxing and enjoying his wonderful wife and the family that loves him. My older brother, Larry, served in Vietman while I served in the Air Force, retraining pilots at an air base in California. I was lucky. Never not to 'nam.. To those who served, like them, we should all be grateful. What they did made a difference in their lives. It made a difference in all of ours too.

Stop and take two minutes this Memorial Day Weekend to watch this video (click here) and see one way veterans are being thanked for their service. Remember your veteran this weekend. Thank them for the sacrifice they gave for all of us. Too many of them are no longer here to thank. Click here to watch the video and remember.