Wednesday

General Motor's Ignition Switch Nightmare

Steve Moskos, South Carolina Lemon Lawyer
My good friend, Steve Moskos, a dedicated lemon law attorney in South Carolina reminded me of a few things about the current General Motors ignition switch recall which has turned into a public relations nightmare for GM - perhaps deservedly so. I'll repeat his comments here, which seem to be extraordinarily well-taken. 

Automotive News is reporting that in today’s Congressional hearing, GM executive McCaskill accused a General Motors engineer of lying about his role in the 2006 redesign of the flawed ignition switch that now is linked to 13 deaths. It should now be obvious to everyone that GM “chose to conceal, rather than disclose” this deadly safety defect for more than seven years. Meanwhile, people drove GM cars and some died because of GM's decision. 
 
On Tuesday, House lawmakers released a document from April 2006 showing that GM engineer Ray DeGiorgio authorized the redesign of the now-recalled switch. But DeGiorgio later denied it in in an April 2013 deposition where told a consumer lawyer representing the family of a Georgia woman who was killed when her 2005 Cobalt crashed that he didn’t approve any changes to the ignition switch in 2006. Seems his memory is a little loose. 

(c) McSwain Engineering
Meanwhile, the Herald Tribune newspaper reported that by the time attorneys started taking depositions from GM engineers in April 2013, an independent engineer in Florida had documented the part change thoroughly. In one deposition, a consumer lawyer confronted Raymond DeGiorgio, the head switch engineer on the Chevrolet Cobalt, with the differences between the original switch and the replacement. While DeGiorgio said he saw the differences, he could not explain why the part had been changed without a corresponding change in its identification number.  Policy requires a change in the part number whenever the design is changed, according to reports appearing in numerous media outlets.

"I was not aware of a detent plunger switch change," he said. "We certainly did not approve a detent plunger switch change." 

As Steve Moskos reminds us, this is precisely why lemon lawyers need to hold manufacturers accountable. Court rules require defendants in court cases to disclose what they know - including what they have tucked away in places they don't want anyone to look. It's called "discovery" by the legal system and General Motors now is seen to have had a long practice of hiding the truth from consumers, their lawyers, the courts, and even the federal safety investigators in charge of motor vehicle safety standards and investigations in this county. GM and its lawyers were required to comply with the law in the litigation process. 

All defendants, like GM, are required to speak the truth in court papers and in lawsuits. What we have here is a perfect example of the idealism of the court process with the warped "money first" real-world viewpoint of some large corporations in America. You can't put a corporation in jail for telling lies to judges and juries and the government itself because a corporation only exists on paper, technically. And that may be one reason why you have to do something more. You have to take away the one and only thing that Big Corporations care about, apparently more than anything else.

If federal safety investigators are smart, they will use the Toyota financial penalty as the yardstick by which to measure how to punish GM for its decision to save 57 cents per part and let its customers run the risk of getting killed in their Chevy. For the families of those people who died, the lives lost were worth a lot more than 57 cents.

The entire GM debacle is a reminder that the corporate greed problem that we saw with the Ford Pinto's exploding gas tank, has not really gone away at all. And it won't go away until Congress changes it. And Congress won't change it until American voters make Congress do it. 


Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978

Sinkhole Sucks Down 8 Corvettes in Kentucky

8 Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky disappeared down a massive sinkhole inside one of the museum buildings before the museum opened today, February 12, according to Automotive News.

A 40 foot wide hole opened up in the museum floor and down they went. The classic cars included two that were on loan from General Motors and six owned by the museum. The cars now rest at the bottom of a hole that is, so far, about 30 feet deep and include a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil, a 1962 black Corvette; 1984 PPG Pace Car; 1992 white 1-millionth Corvette; 1993 40th anniversary Corvette; 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06; and the 2009 1.5-millionth Corvette.

The museum is located within a mile of the factory where Corvettes have been built for over 30 years, in an area of Kentucky where caves and sinkholes are not uncommon - but this is the first one that has ever been known to occur at the museum.

While any Corvette is worth some money for sure, the 1993 ZR-1 Spyder was a concept car, a one of a kind build with a value that no one wants to guess. 'course, at the bottom of that sinkhole, there might be a scuff or two on the finish by now.

Museum officials are now working on how to get the cars out and, no doubt, filling out some insurance claim forms too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers, Every Day

New Ford Mustang Design Unveiling December 5, 2013

Just shy of 50 years after Ford released its first Mustang, the company is on the verge of announcing its Camaro-fighting design and style change.

According to Automotive News press reports, Ford will unveil the new 2015 Mustang design on Thursday, Dec 5. Time Magazine has some pics posted on their website that look like they were taken up close and personal. If they are accurate, the nose looks scooped down but the rest of the changes are visually pretty subtle.

Before now, Ford has redesigned the Mustang once every decade, so it was due for a change anyway. But the intense competition from the Chevrolet Camaro put the pressure on to come up with something strikingly new to keep its buyers in the corral and keep the Camaro far behind the pony car.

So far this year the Camaro has outsold the Mustang and the books will probably close that way at Jan 1. That will make three years running that the Camaro has left Mustang behind and taken over as the leader of the pack.

Reportedly the hallmarks of the original Mustang will remain while new stylistic touches are added. Just how bold Ford will go is anyone's guess so keep your eyes peeled on the news tomorrow.

Before you rush out to buy one though, just remember that old adage about the first year of any new model or major change like this is often the worst of the bunch, as the manufacturer struggles to get everything right in the new production process too.

And if you end up with a lemon Mustang? You know who to call, don't you? Yeah, we thought so.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of bad cars for more than 25 years
 
Lemon Law - it's what we do.

Tuesday

Motor Vehicle Title Late? Maybe You Don't Own Your New Car After All

Buying a motor vehicle can be risky for reasons you didn’t even know about.

Are you giving away your money if you don't get a title?
When a car dealer sells a new or used motor vehicle, most states require that the dealer transfer the title into the name of the buyer within a maximum number of days, often just 30 or 40 days. If the dealer fails to do that on time, then most states say that the buyer has the absolute right to cancel the sale (this is often called a Title Defect Law). But maybe not.

Many states have changed their title defect law to require that the buyer actually has to tell the seller that they are cancelling the sale. Sort of like you either say it out lout (or in writing) or it doesn't get said at all.

If the buyer patiently waits or the dealer talks them into waiting, and the dealer gets the title to them before they actually say the want to cancel the sale - then the dealer wins and the buyer is stuck - even if they got a lemon! Of course, the problem is that most people have no idea that they can cancel the sale for such a technical reason. And the car dealer sure isn't going to tell you.

Why is the law so strict about giving the buyer the vehicle title?

Having the title means you are the owner.
Nothing else counts. Period.
Because motor vehicles are “titled” property in 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 the title in your name to be the owner. It also means that you can’t sell a car without having the title in your name either. 

Most states also have a law that says that a car dealer is only allowed to sell a car without having the title already in their name if they have the legal ability to transfer the title into the dealer’s name right away and they, in fact, do that and then transfer title to the buyer’s name within a limited amount of time, usually about 40 days after the sale. But each state law can be a little different on this.

Of course, dealers often buy a car and then sell it very quickly. After all, they don't make a profit until they sell it. That can lead to a dealer selling it before they even receive the title to it. That can delay you getting your title too.

If you bought a vehicle from a dealer and did not get your title in time then you probably have the right to cancel the sale if you act quickly enough and you do it right.

If you have not gotten the title at all yet, then the first thing to do is contact the dealer and ask where it is and when you will get it or, if you are tired of waiting and the time limit has run out, then you can call the dealer and tell them you are cancelling the sale and you will return the vehicle to them just as soon as they tell you they will refund your down payment and return your trade in vehicle (if you paid them anything down or had a trade in). 

Don't get stuck when the dealer closes
If the dealer is no longer in business, then you need to contact your state motor vehicle department right away and see a lawyer. Some states have a fund that will buy cars from victims of car dealers who never deliver titles to their buyers.

In fact, to find out what all of this means in your situation and in your state you really need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney near you.

Of course, the safest thing to do is make sure you get the title. If you are paying cash, the dealer should be able to sign the title over to you right then and there. If not, you could be giving your money away.

And that is also the exact reason it is so risky to buy a car from a stranger, not a car dealer, who promises to get the title to you in a day or so. It might never come.

Be careful out there. Don't take a chance. But if something goes wrong, call us for help. Helping consumers is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers every day

Ways Cars Are Getting Worse

For years we have become accustomed to the idea that every year motor vehicles get better and safer. It looks like maybe we are wrong about that.

Matthew de Paula at Forbes has an interesting article on the ways that new cars are getting worse. And while we hadn't thought about it before, they make some very accurate points.

Huge Wheels. 14 and 15 inch wheels were the rule and very common years ago. Now, you can't go on a new car lot without seeing 19 and 20 inch wheels on some cars. And the tires are routinely wider than ever too. Not only do they cost more, but everything about them costs more. They are less forgiving and give a different, often harsher ride too.
Big is not always better

We were returning from Michigan one night when a pot hole suddenly appeared on the road in front of us - too late to swerve and miss it. You could hear the wheel bang into the hole and feel it through the car. The tire pressure light instantly came on, warning that the air pressure in the tire was rapidly going out. The rim was dented and the run flat tire ripped into the sidewall, flattening the tire. No one was open but luckily we were just a short, slow drive to the next exit where there was a hotel to stay overnight so the car could be towed to the nearest (30 miles away) dealer to get a new rim and tire. That was a $1,000 pot hole.

It made me think of the wheels and tires on my first car as a teenager, a used 1959 Ford passed down to me. That car would have gently dipped into the pot hole and come right out of it and just kept on going.

Sure those big wheeled run flats look cool, but you have to wonder if they really make your car any better. They may be just an expense you should avoid.

Check out Matthew's Forbes article for the other ways that cars are getting worse. It'll open your eyes - and maybe close your wallet next time you go car shopping too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Help Themselves Since 1978.

Monday

A New Chevrolet in Just Two Months? You Betcha!

Sometimes a manufacturer will argue and argue, stall and delay, and maybe even make you go to court to get rid of your lemon. Then sometimes, they see reality and know we won't give up and they just do it.

That was the case for a wonderful lady from Ohio whose 2011 Chevy Malibu turned out to be a lemon.

With door rattles, the trac system warning light, radio buttons that would stick, loss of tail lights, marker lights that wouldn't work, more electrical system lighting troubles, inside lights that flash or flicker - all during the first year - it's no wonder she thought it was a lemon. Multiple times int he shop and days out of service and not much more than lip service to show for it.

Then the second year of troubles started. Cracking and popping noises in reverse gear or when turning, dash lights and shifter lights that blink when they want to, more rattles, more lights that flash when they want for who knows what reasons, tail lights that won't work again and back to the blinking dash lights again and a failing XM radio system.

After 38 days in the shop over the course of two years, she knew she had a lemon. And she had every reason to be mad about a bad car and a dealer who had no clue what to do and a manufacturer that didn't seem to care. She had every good reason to be mad.

So we got mad with General Motors for her --- and in short order it was all over with. Now she's got a new Chevrolet sitting in her driveway and she's smiling.

And we have a huge box of chocolate candy from a very happy client. Oh, and General Motors paid our attorney fee bill instead of her. That's only fair too.

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

Thank a Veteran Today

Every Veteran's Day we tell this story of a young lawyer, a farmer, and a war fought long ago, in tribute to the veterans in each of our families - and all the veterans who have served over the generations and who still serve today.

A few years ago, a local farmer came in to see me for some help. Bills and crop prices and debt had him over a barrel and we talked about bankruptcy and what it could and couldn’t do to help relieve his situation. He was a big strong man, the way some farmers just naturally are, both in his heart and his size. We were about the same age but he looked so much older.

His situation took about 5 months to get resolved but I will never forget the day that I learned that he was a chopper pilot in Vietnam about the same time as my older brother, Larry, was there. I had no clue and never would have guessed.

We both stopped what we were talking about, his own current problem, while he looked out the window and quietly talked about what it was like then, back in Vietnam. It was hard for me to look at this older and much heavier man and try to imagine what he must have looked like back in the days of 1966-'68. Now, he was mostly bald and probably weighed a lot more than he did back then, but like me he had been young once too. Now, he didn't move as quick as he undoubtedly did in 'nam either.

But you could tell from the distance in his eyes as he spoke that he had never really left it all behind him.

He talked about what it was like to fly a chopper in and out of valleys and hills and fire, dropping down as quickly as he could and picking up a wounded soldier or two and getting back out of there, wherever "there" was, as fast as he could. Nothing but plexiglass between him and the bullets.

He said he loved flying helicopters then, but that he was never in his life as scared as he was in those few minutes between the time just before he would land and when he was back out of the worst of the fire. He said they were the longest minutes of his life. He called it dodging a lifetime of bullets, scared to death that one of them had his name on it.

He had a dusty old baseball cap in his hand as we talked. It hung loosely in his hand as he gazed aimlessly out the window. It was from some team that didn't really matter, I'm sure. His eyes were never in the room with us as he calmly and matter-of-factly talked of how men died around him and also of those who came back like him.

You could tell he had memories he wished he didn't have. He said the worst feeling he had from the whole war was that every time he'd lift off the ground he knew that while he was getting out of there, he was leaving other boys behind. He'd fly away, his heart pounding loud in his chest, while the fighting went on below him.

After a long while, he stopped talking and we just sat there, not talking at all. I could see that things were going on inside his mind and I just didn't know what to say. I was dumbstruck by this seemingly now-gentle giant of a man who had been through hell. Truth be told, I didn't think I had a right to say anything at all. After what seemed like the longest time, both of us returned to the present moment. He never spoke about it again.

It's been years now. I don't even remember his name. Probably most of the guys he saved didn't remember it either. I haven't thought of him since then until my older brother sent me a recording he found on the internet, called God's Own Lunatics (click below) that explained what it was like to be one of those foot soldiers on the ground. I clicked on it, listened, and the memory all came back to me.

I recall that he was the son of a local farmer who had gone off to war and came back all grown up - to be his father's son, a farmer again. Something about beating your swords into plows seems appropriate for me to end this note but it also seems so trivial a thing to say. I can still recall his face.
We all owe veterans a whole lot more than any of us will ever be able to repay. If you know someone who served, shake their hand and thank them. You don't need to say why. They'll know.


Tuesday

How Long Have You Owned Your Car? Maintenance Matters

If you take care of your vehicle, it will take care of you. The longer you take good care of it, the longer it will last. Here's proof.
Allen Swift and his 1928 Rolls-Royce Picadilly Roadster

Mr. Allen Swift ( Springfield , MA.) received this 1928 Rolls-Royce Picadilly P1 Roadster from his father, brand new - as a graduation gift in 1928. He drove it up until the age of 102. He was widely reported to be the oldest living owner of a car from new up until his death in 2010.  He donated it to a Springfield museum after his death when it had only 170,000 miles on it and was still running dead silent at any speed and in perfect cosmetic condition. 

82 years of ownership is a record and means he drove it about 2000 miles per year. He obviously did all the routine regular maintenance and more and that kept it running like a fine Swiss watch.

As the Fall and Winter seasons approach, now is a good time to remember that experts agree that if you do all the regular routine maintenance on your own car or truck then it will last longer and run better. That is certainly one way to avoid going into debt to buy a new car every few years or when your old one breaks down prematurely.

An easy way to remember it is that when the schools open back up, get your car checked out by a qualified mechanic. Experts also agree that finding and fixing a problem sooner is always better than finding yourself stranded out of town when a failure happens. Here are a few tips -

1. Get comprehensive maintenance work done - including battery, cables, fluids, filters, a tune up if you need it and a safety check too.

2. Check your tire tread, pressures, and condition too. If you live in the snow, think about getting snow tires before the first snowfall leaves you stuck.

3. If you live where the winter gets bad, put a cold-weather emergency kit together and keep it in your car - including a spare ice scraper, a small shovel, extra gloves, boots, a spare blanket or two, a flashlight and spare batteries, flares, and 100 feet of heavy rope in case you get stuck so someone can pull you out.

Still thinking about getting a new car? Well if your mechanic tells you the old one won't make it through another winter, then go through the buying process slowly and with a lot of research and planning. Pick your vehicle, then pick your lender that you want to use, then shop around on the internet for the best deal you can find nearby - always buy local. 

And if you buy from a car dealer, be very careful what you sign and make them put all promises in writing. And be sure that the dealer gives you a warranty - never buy a car as is from a car dealer.

And if it still turns out to be a lemon? Well, we can help you with that too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves for more than 30 years.

Wednesday

The Next BIG Fraud Device?

Watch out! The next big fraud is one you don't see coming. It's a convenience that sounds easy but it can cost you thousands of dollars when you buy your next car or truck - before you even know it has happened to you.

Easy signing, easy stealing
Many car dealers and other merchants are now using electronic signature pads. Those are the little devices about the size of a paperback book or smaller, where they have you sign on the dotted line and it puts your signature on their contract or sale documents.

Easy, huh? Convenient, huh? Yeah, but a very slick way to steal your signature and put it on any kind of document or contract or other agreement that they want - and they insist that you knew and consented to it - after all, that really is your signature, right? Yeah, right ...

We have seen a sudden rash of electronic document signing taking place at one Miami Valley car dealership chain used in a clever way that costs customers thousands of dollars in unseen and unauthorized charges on top of their car purchase that the customer doesn't even see happening to them.

When you sign the pad, the dealer says it makes it easier for them to print out the documents for you --- yeah, right. Then they pack into the sales papers extra stuff you didn't know about and add it to the sale price of the car or truck you are buying.

Stuff like rustproofing for an extra (and hefty) $1,249. Or the "etch theft guard" that they sometimes call "Security Coding" for an extra $299. Or how about that "Dent Protection" for another $299? Or maybe the mysterious "Personal Assistant" (whatever that is) for another $299? How about some "GAP" for $900 or "Easycare" (which is really their extended warranty without telling you what it is) for a really hefty $2,795?

And all that stuff means you pay more sales tax too. And when you let them finance the car loan for you, it means you pay more in interest charges too. We have seen some contracts where an extra $4,000 to $7,000 is piled on top of the price. And it gets even worse if you lease the vehicle because you can't see where the extra charges are buried into the vehicle's "capitalized cost" because they aren't itemized on your lease at all.

Use a real pen on real paper
Always insist on signing with an ink pen put to paper. Don't trust someone else's computer. After all, if they don't put your name on extra charges in your deal, they can still steal the electronic signature and forge it later on something else. And heaven help you if that car finance salesman copies it to the memory stick in his pocket and takes it home, along with a copy of your credit application too.

Don't trust any car dealer who wants you to use an electronic signature pad. It's the surest way to rip you off without you seeing it happening. You may never know it happened. And if you do figure it out, it may already be too late.

But if it happens to you, in Fairborn or Miamisburg or Beavercreek, in Columbus or anywhere else in Ohio, call us. If it happens to you at a Chevrolet dealer, a Nissan dealer, a Mazda dealer, a GMC dealer, or a Mitsubishi or any other car dealer, call us. Car Sales Fraud is what we call it. And we go after the car dealer to get your money back. It's what we do. And with electronic signature pads being used more and more often by car dealers, we are finding more and more car sales fraud practices at dishonest car dealerships.

Burdge Law Office
Because you work too hard for your money,
to let a car dealer cheat you out of it.

Tuesday

Car Dealer Pays $600,000+ to Settle 16 Lawsuits, 5 Complaints

The headline reads "Auto Dealer Target of Lawsuits"

Burdge Law Office has been fighting car sales fraud in Ohio and Kentucky for more than 25 years and the consumer complaints about Ohio and Kentucky car dealers haven't stopped coming into the office. Headlines in local papers, like the one above, seem to just keep happening.

In fact, we are seeing more complaints about vehicle sales fraud than ever before, many of them alleging a "systematic and organized pattern" of deceptive practices that sometimes have cost consumers thousands of extra dollars in each sale.

Allegations include the use of a "5 finger close" where the finance salesperson holds their hand on the paperwork while getting the customer's signature on a contract that includes extra charges they were not aware of, charging $1,249 or more for rust-proofing that may not even on the vehicle being sold, charging exorbitant prices for window "theft deterrent" etching that consumers and others allege is nearly worthless, among other things.

Some consumers explain that the extra charges occurred in a way that is called "payment packing" in the auto sales industry - where extra charges are added in the dealer's payment amount quoted early in the process without the customer knowing about it. The customer thinks buying the car will cost, for example, $400 a month because that is what the dealer said. But in fact the dealer knew that it would only cost $350 a month but they said $400 so that the finance office would have $50 of "leg" in the deal --- where they could add extra cost products without surprising the buyer when they hear the finance office quote the precise monthly payment amount for the vehicle.

We have seen charges on sales papers that seem exorbitant compared to what other dealers charge for the same or similar products and services. Dealers charge extra for what they commonly call "soft add on" products. They are called that because they add no real "hard" value to the vehicle being sold in the deal.

Soft add on's may include such things as "Personal Assistant," Gap insurance (which in Ohio is not really insurance at all), extended warranties, "dent" repair services, "security coding" (which is really just window stickers or hard-to-see etching), and "key" replacement programs.

The tactic of a salesperson or the finance office misquoting a payment amount to a prospective buyer is widely called "payment packing" in the car sales industry and has been admitted to be deceptive.

In the summer of 2013 one dealer's general manager was quoted in an Automotive News article as saying, "If somebody's numbers have fallen in finance, they know there is a talent pool of aggressive salespeople who want their job." And, the article goes on, if the numbers fall the finance salesman can find himself back on the floor doing ordinary sales work.

The result of the rising tide of consumer complaints about sales fraud is a rising number of lawsuits involving both new and used vehicle sales and leases throughout Ohio as consumers seem to be discovering what happened to them at car dealerships who engage in such unfair and deceptive practices.

If you were ripped off by a car dealer or treated unfairly or with deception, call Burdge Law Office on their Toll Free Car Sales Fraud Hotline, 1.888.331.6422 or email them for free help getting back your money and getting justice.


Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers For Over 25 Years

Sunday

2012 Ford Focus Gets More Complaints, Recalls, Service Bulletins - What's Up?

What is going on with the 2012 Ford Focus? Consumers are wondering while complaints from owners pile up, technical service bulletins are issued and the recalls begin. Ford knows, but it isn't talking.

2013 Ford Focus Transmission Complaints
Hundreds of owner complaints have been filed with federal safety investigators and Ford has issued at least a dozen service bulletins - secret warranties they tell dealers about - and two recalls.

Dozens and dozens of owner complaints have to do with transmission troubles and the complaints are spilling over to other owner-gripe web sites by the dozens too. Some owners even complain that the car won't go into gear when the engine is running!

Edmunds has 696 complaints and questions and discussions about the Focus tranny problems posted at its Townhall Talk pages alone as of July 2013. And at 8,000 miles, one owner posted a review at Edmunds that warned "Don't Even Think About This Car" saying that its transmission was "terrible."

Federal safety investigators have logged 216 owner complaints as of July 2013 too - and owners have to hunt and click through web site pages for the web page where they can file a vehicle complaint, mind you (hint, you can click right here to register your car's complaint).

Frustrated owners have noted Ford's problems with 2012 Ford Focus wiring harnesses, the Focus car's computer programs and parts, slipping transmissions, grinding noises, furious jerking, uphill hesitation, losing power, and worse. Computer reprogramming hasn't made the complaints go away.

Some complaints have focused on the Focus car's six speed dual clutch transmission design as a sore spot. Other complain of near stall-outs with heavy braking and loss of power assist and fading brakes.

For its part, Ford issued a recall having to do with water leaking into a wiring harness but no specific recall on the transmission complaints has come out, causing consumers to wonder why not. In the face of hundreds of tranny complaints, it is puzzling to industry watchdogs and consumers alike.

Ford did issue a secret warranty to cover "improperly balanced clutch assembly" that causes vibrations, but how severe those are is something Ford didn't say. And another one was issued on Ford Focus transmission jerks and rough shifting and "roll back" when on an incline or hill.

And are things looking any better for the 2013 Ford Focus? Not really, it's off to a similar start with two recalls, more service bulletins, and over 50 consumer complaints.

If you have a lemon Ford Focus, take it back to the shop repeatedly, document your complaints carefully, and if they don't fix your Focus within 3 attempts, you've probably got a lemon. Take the Ohio Lemon Law Test at www.OhioLemonLaw.com and in Kentucky you can take the test at www.KentuckyLemonLaw.com to see if you are entitled to a new car or your money back. If so, call us on our Toll Free Ford Focus Hotline at 1.888.331.6422. In Hawaii, go to www.AlohaLemonLaw.com for free Lemon Law help to get rid of your Ford Focus.

If you are thinking about getting a new or used Ford Focus, you may want to think about it again. You may be well advised to wait until Ford focuses on fixing the Focus problems that current owners are raging about on the internet.

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

Monday

Banks and Credit Unions Fighting for Your Money

Their fight will cost you money.
It's been brewing for years and now it's about to boil over.

Banks have complained for years about credit unions and their ability to offer lower interest rates and better loan terms. Up to recently Banks have been glad many folks just didn't know much about credit unions but it's changing.

Credit unions have been going after the bank's bread and butter by taking bank customers away with offers of no and low fees for practically all the same financial services that banks have "owned" for over a hundred years. And that did it. Banks are fighting back. And it could cost you big money.

When it came to car loans, it used to be that car dealers offered bank financing. Then finance companies worked their way into the lucrative market and car dealers offered both, but quickly realized that they could make more money for themselves with the higher kickback that finance companies would give them. Never mind the fact that the consumer's interest rate on their dealer-arranged loans started getting higher than bank rates too - after all, that extra dealer kickback profit had to come from somewhere, right? It did. It came right out of the customer's pocket in ways few customers knew was happening.

Then along came the credit unions.

Credit unions always had a historically slow and cautious growth in the financial services marketplace, restricted by policies and rules that limited their membership abilities. You had to work at the same place. You had to have a relative who worked there. You had to live in their membership area. Most of that has gone away and you can pretty much join any credit you want to in these times, within some remaining limits.

And that meant that the credit unions had more money to play with. So they looked around and decided there was one place where they could offer lower interest rates and where the financial profits were pretty good for the picking. Car dealers. So they aggressively went after the market, offering to let car dealers sign up new members for them at the same time the car dealer was setting up their purchase loans which, of course, also went through the credit union. Some car dealers even even fronted the credit union's usually $5 joining fee.

Credit unions used their low rates to push loans and new membership partly because they knew that once a new member was "in" the credit union, they frequently started using the credit union for all their financial needs. Checking accounts, small loans, savings accounts, and in some cases even mortgage loans to buy a home or make home improvements.

The Bank's share of the financial services market started eroding more than they could stand. So the banks have been complaining to Congress. Lobbying is more correctly what it's called. And few business have as much money to spend on lobbying as the banks do.

Credit unions have long had the financial advantage of a tax exemption that banks don't have - and banks don't like it. So they are pushing Congress and the White House to end the credit union tax break. They claim that it will help raise tax revenue and make it easier to balance the federal budget. But don't let that fool you. They are after your money and they see a chance to get it back by forcing the credit unions, membership-owned entities, to give up the only advantage they have. Bottom line? The banks want to get rid of the competition or at least "even" it up.

It's easy to make lending mistakes
when you don't know who you are loaning money to.
And what would it mean for you? Money. Big money. Estimates are that the tax exemption enables the credit unions to save over $1.6 billion a year.

There is a fundamental difference between credit unions and banks - credit unions can not legally raise money the same way that banks do. That's because banks are big corporations and the bigger they are the more they gobble up the smaller banks. That's a lesson we saw over the last twenty years, as the local small town banks disappeared as they were taken over, bought out, or just went out of business, one after another. And now we are left with a handful of banks that pretty much run the banking system of the entire country. Does "too big to fail' remind you of the multi-billion dollar Wall Street bailout mess of a few years ago?

And it affects politics too. As the number of banks dwindled during the last 20 years, the political donations from the financial sector increased ten fold.

If the banks have their way, credit unions will disappear. They will have no choice but to technically become banks. Interest rates will raise, local offices likely will shutter their doors.
Little fish always look mighty tasty to bigger fish

And the big fish will once again swallow up all the little fishes that suddenly are turned loose in their financial pond.

What the banks want to do is increase their hold on your money. It was competition that forced many banks to reduce or drop their services fees on checking accounts and overdrafts - which were some of the most profitable parts of their business scheme.

If you want to keep your interest rates low, if you want to be able to go to a financial institution and actually deal face to face with the people who will make the lending decision for you and your family, you better act soon. Tell your US representative and Senator and the White House that you want the credit unions left alone.

Why? Because credit unions are the only alternative financial source you have left. Credits unions work. They save people money.

Burdge Law Office
Helping people help themselves, everyday.

Jeep's Recall is Well Deserved and a Good Example of Design Stupidity

Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty Fire Danger Recall
Chrysler caused its own problem with the Jeep recall involving the Grand Cherokee and the Liberty because they ignored their own internal 1978 memo on where to put gas tanks on cars.

The design that led to the recall was a problem they knew about in 1978, but they built the design defect into the Jeep Liberty and Jeep Grand Cherokee anyway. So just how do you fix stupid?

Chrysler is being criticized for cutting a deal to decrease the number of vehicles involved in its recent Jeep recall. NHTSA, the recall agency, is getting criticized for going along with it. The Center for Auto Safety's Clarence Ditlow is getting criticized for objecting to the deal that Chyrsler and NHTSA made.

While everyone is complaining about it, few actually have looked into the cause for the recall itself. When you do, you realize that they had it coming. In fact, they knew back in 1978 that what they ultimately did in designing the Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty was stupid. And the only way to fix "design stupid" is with a recall.

It all started when the accidents started causing fires and people started to die.  The Center for Auto Safety, whose mission is auto safety and quality, heard about how a gas tank ruptured in a rear end collision and started asking federal safety investigators at NHTSA to look into it. NHTSA is the federal agency in charge of motor vehicle recalls. After more fires were reported, it eventually became obvious that something was going on.
Another burned up Jeep from a rear end accident and fire.


One of the fire accidents that started the federal investigation was when a Jeep was rear ended by a semi truck going 60 mph. We absolutely agree that you can't blame Jeep for an accident caused by a semi truck, unless there was something wrong with that Jeep that made the injuries worse. But it is not Chrysler management's mentality to toss in the towel if they think they are right. 

Chrysler does, however, have a mentality to weigh the costs of bad PR. So after the recall came out, Chrysler said they would fight it. Then it decided it wouldn't. What's up with that?

Chrysler had a secret meeting with federal safety investigators and ultimately made a deal to go along with a recall of fewer vehicles than first demanded by federal safety investigators. That "meeting" was about cutting costs to do what they knew had to do anyway. 

NHTSA only does a recall after a long, exhaustive, scientific analysis of an issue - because they know that their decision may end up in Court. The Preliminary Evaluation was followed by an Engineering Analysis and this investigation, for example, started in 2009 and it took 4 years to get to this point - and Chrysler was involved throughout the entire process (the manufacturer always is). 
There's the Gas Tank, just waiting to get hit in a rear end collision.


What came out of it is that the industry standard placement location for fuel tanks is in front of the rear axle but Chrysler put the two recalled Jeep fuel tanks behind the rear axle, in a vulnerable position. No other SUV make does that and most vehicles of any kind don't do that. The Grand Cherokee and Liberty models had twice the normal SUV rate of fire fatalities from a rear end accident. 

In fact, an 8-24-1978 internal memo at Chrysler pointed out that doing that would expose the gas tank to collision damage. It happened and that's what started this whole Jeep recall thing. 

NHTSA did not push for this recall without evidence that something was wrong. It did so in an extraordinary 13 page, detailed letter to Chrysler (you can go to NHTSA's recall pages and see that most such letters are 2-3 pages). Read the NHTSA letter (we did) yourself. 

But we are sure that Chrysler thought it was right to fight the recall. And just as sure that Ditlow was objecting for just one reason - auto safety and quality.  Not everyone is nuts and reasonable people can disagree and still just be reasonable people doing their job. The Jeep recall has nothing to do with big government or politics. Folks may not like NHTSA or Ditlow or the Center for Auto Safety, but this recall has to do with one thing only - auto safety and quality. 

It is just plain stupid to put a gas tank behind the immovable hard metal rear axle where nothing but the rear plastic bumper is protecting it from rupturing in a rear end collision. A ruptured gas tank causes fires and fires kill people. 

The only way to fix stupid when it comes to car design, is to do a recall. And, as Chrysler knows, the way to limit the cost of a recall is to negotiate the quantity of vehicles being recalled.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons. Everyday.

Tuesday

Ford's Best Selling Truck Hits a Safety Speed Bump

F150 Recall Fears Rising Over Dangerous Speed Defect
Quick - what is the best selling motor vehicle the US has ever had? Quick - what is the best selling Ford there ever has been? The answer is the same - the Ford F Series truck line, with over 34,000,000 built since 1948 and easily way ahead of whatever is in second place.

But the winner of the race may have hit a speed bump with federal safety investigators, who have received so many owner complaints that they have opened an investigation into highway sharp loss of speed dangers in the 2011 Ford F150 and the 2012 Ford F150 and the 2013 Ford F150 model trucks.

There's a growing fear being reported that Blue Oval management smells a huge recall coming from a ongoing federal safety investigation. The investigation involves some 400,000 Ford F150 trucks that are the subject loss of acceleration complaints. But it may not stop there. A power unit that is the focus of the investigation is also used in the Ford Explorer, the Ford Flex and the Ford Taurus.

If a recall hits, it may involve the Ford truck line as well as the Ford SUV models and Ford sedans. The numbers could easily become huge.

Owners are filing Lemon Law and warranty breach cases against Ford over the 3.5 liter V-6 EcoBoost engine and claim that it has defects that cause the vehicles to shake, the engine to misfire and the vehicle to rapidly lose power. When that happens on any road, it can be dangerous, but especially so at highway speeds.

If you think your Ford F150 is a lemon, click here to call or email us for free help to get rid of your lemon and get your money back or a new truck in Ohio, Kentucky and Hawaii.

NHTSA has reported that the problem involves reduced engine power during hard accelerations in model year 2011 through 2013 Ford F150 trucks equipped with 3.5L gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) engines.

Ford has issued three technical service bulletins related to intermittent stumble/misfire on acceleration from highway cruise in humid or damp conditions in some model year 2011 and 2012 F150 vehicles equipped with 3.5L GTDI engines. The most recent bulletin, TSB 13-3-3, includes instructions to Ford dealers on new procedures for diagnosing a condition related to moisture accumulation in the Charge Air Cooler during extended highway cruising at constant throttle in humid or damp conditions; and attempting a repair of the condition by reprogramming the powertrain control module and installing a new Charge Air Cooler and air deflector plate.

Will this latest procedure work to fix the continuing engine problems in the Ford F150? Only time will tell, but this isn't the only problem the Ford F150 has seen lately. 

The 2012 Ford F150, for instance, has been the subject of at least ten secret warranty campaigns, called "service bulletins" and several involve the same symptoms involved in the NHTSA safety investigation - loss of engine power.

The Preliminary Evaluation may be the last chance Ford has of heading off a recall before the investigation is handed off to federal safety engineers at NHTSA, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, the federal safety agency in charge of motor vehicle recalls in the United States.

The Burdge Lemon Aid Team
Call Toll Free 1.888.331.6422
 - Free Lemon Law Help -
If you've got a 2011 Ford F150, a 2012 Ford F150, or a 2013 Ford F150, be careful. Drive defensively and stay alert for any sign of engine power loss, especially during highway use. At the first sign of trouble, slow down and stop as soon as possible and call your nearest Ford dealer.

This can be a dangerous and deadly defect if it happens to you. So caution may dictate having your Ford F150 truck towed to the nearest Ford dealer for another repair attempt. And keep in mind the lemon law definitions in your state. You don't have to give the Ford dealer more than 4 attempts to fix the engine stumble problem in any state, only 1 one chance in Ohio and many other "deadly defect" states, and most often 3 chances in other states.

If you live in Ohio, take the Ohio Lemon Law Test by clicking here.

If you live in Kentucky, take the Kentucky Lemon Law Test by clicking here.

If you live in Hawaii, take the Hawaii Lemon Law Test by clicking here.

To learn more about the lemon law test in all 50 US states, click here.

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to drive a lemon.

BMW Airbag Explosion Danger Results in Recall

This is an Early Warning Alert on a dangerous recall from BMW.

An official recall notice has not been published yet by the federal government, but news reports today have said that BMW has joined Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda in recallilng the millions of vehicles that have dangerously defective airbags.


Exploding Airbag Danger Causes BMW Recall
With BMW the total vehicle recall count is 1.3 million US vehicles, with just over 42,000 BMW's added to the US airbag recall list. Over 100,000 BMW's in other parts of the world are also being recalled for the exploding airbag danger.

For BMW the recall covers the 3-series models from 2002 to 2003, including the BMW M3 coupe and convertible models.

The recall affects the airbags built by Takata and installed in the front passenger seats of over 3.5 million motor vehicles worldwide. It also sheds light on the little-known market relied on so heavily by big-name car manufacturers who often use the same parts manufacturer, here Takata. Takata is the leading airbag manufacturer in the world.

It turns out that airbags made by Takata from April 2000 to September 2002 in Moses Lake, Washington and Monclova, Mexico, used a propellant with a manufacturing defect that caused airbag inflation to occur incorrectly. The result was a risk of fires or passengers being injured by metal fragments shooting out.

Oddly, Takata has admitted learning of the problem back in October 2011. No reports have been released on any earlier warnings by the air bag manufacturer to alert BMW or the other five car manufacturers of the danger.

So if you own a 2002 or 2003 BMW 3 Series or BMW M3 Coupe or M3 convertible, be careful out there. Call your local BMW dealer and find out right away if your car is on the recall list. If it is, get it in the shop right away so you and your family are not injured by the Takata exploding airbags.

Got a lemon BMW 3 Series or a lemon BMW M3?
Want a new BMW or your money back?
Get Justice.

Thursday

Shame on Them, Tell Them That

Image from LatinaLista.com
Are you part of the 90%? Then stand up and be counted. This is not a liberal or conservative thing - it is just survival.

12 people were shot dead, and nearly 40 others wounded, by a crazy person in an Aurora theatre. Another shot and killed 6 people and shot US Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon. 12 kids and one teacher were shot to death in Columbine High School. In April 2013 a convicted felon took a gun to a church in Ohio and killed a man. In Tulsa, two convicted felons were arrested on the murder of four women, still carrying a gun. In Webster (NY) two firefighters were murdered by a convicted felon. If we kept looking, it wouldn't take long to come up with a total of 44 deaths caused by guns bought (legally) by crazy people and convicted felons. Johns Hopkins University released a study in October 2012 that proved that 80% of violent firearm crimes in the US are with guns that are bought by felons and mentally ill people who know how to avoid the simple background check that gun stores do.

90% of Americans favor the most minimal, modest effort to stop the sale of guns to the mentally ill and convicted felons. Everyday felons and crazy people are turned away, gunless, from gun stores where they fail a simple background check.

Image from tpzoo.ordpress.com
The problem is that they can drive right over to the local gun show and easily buy high-capacity guns. Stopping it is not "gun control" - it is putting a control on crazy people and felons. It will just keep guns out of the hands of people who will only use them to kill and maim innocent children and victims of their violence. It is not a "slippery slope" to any loss of your rights either, but it does take away the right of some crazy person or some felon to buy a gun at a gun show. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Yet 44 Senators voted against requiring background checks. Congress failed to pass a simple law that 90% of America wants. A law that would merely include gun show purchases in the background check program. It would not do anything else.

Send these US Senators the Shame on You Message below. Copy this phrase:

Shame on You for Letting the Mentally Ill and Convicted Felons Buy Guns at Gun Shows

Now click on the name of any Senator listed below and then paste the Same on You Message in place and send it. These are the Senators who voted to let the mentally ill and convicted felons buy guns.

Alexander, TN
Ayotte, NH
Barrasso, WY
Blunt, MO
Boozman, AZ
Burr, NC
Chambliss, GA
Coats, IN
Coburn, OK
Cochran, MS
Corker, TN
Cornyn, TX
Image from ProgressOhio.org
Crapo, ID
Cruz, TX
Enzi, WY
Fischer, NE
Flake, AZ
Graham, SC
Grassley, IA
Hatch, UT
Heler, NV
Hoeven, ND
Inhofe, OK
Isakson, GA
Johanns, NE
Johnson, WI
Lee, UT
McConnell, KY
Moran, KS
Murkowski, AK
Paul, KY
Portman, OH
Risch, ID
Roberts, KS
Rubio, FL
Scott, SC
Sessions, AL
Shelby, AL
Thune SD
Vitter, LA
Wicker, MS
Baucus, MT
Begich, AK
Heitkamp, ND
Pryor, AR
Reid, NV

If you want to keep convicted felons and mentally ill people from getting guns, then make your voice heard. Send a message now. Tell these Senators, Shame on Them.

Everyone complains about Congress but the truth is that Congress won't change until they hear YOUR voice. Send these 44 Senators the Shame on You Message. Do it now. And change Congress.

Shame on Them for Letting the Mentally Ill and Convicted Felons Buy Guns at Gun Shows. Congress will change when we get rid of these 44 men and women in Washington who want to pass out guns to convicted felons and mentally ill people.

Wednesday

Lie, Cheat, Steal - the Car Dealer Finance Man's Way of Life

"It's just what I do"
Would you like to know what some car dealer "F and I" sales people really think about what is right and wrong to do in their job at the car dealership? Well, forgery just seems to be part of some car dealer's DNA.

"F and I" is car dealer slang for "Finance and Insurance" which is where car dealers make high profit off customers by selling soft add on products - or sometimes just "packing" them into a deal without the customer even knowing it. Things like extended warranties, paint sealant, credit insurance, rust proofing and more all cost extra and they have to be signed for by the customer.

But if the customer doesn't even know about it, how do you get their signature on the disclosure forms? It may be easier than you think.


The 5 Finger Close
Will Get Your Money
Everytime
While a 5 Finger Close seems to be a more common way of doing it than ever before, some finance sales people don't even bother with it. Instead, as one man said, they just sign the customer's signature for them.

Let's see, just how do you spell F-o-r-g-e-r-y?

Tallahassee's Mad Marv Eleazer writes a column and blog for F and I Magazine the industry's magazine. His February 5 post is titled "A Newbie's Guide to F and I" and it gives tips on how to learn the finance business. But the real truth comes out in the comments posted by his car dealer F and I readers.

The Feb 15 post by "Bubba B" tells you everything you need to know about how some people in the car sales business really think -

"I can sign so good that it looks like a real signature"
"My .02 is that every once in a while, more often than not, you're gonna get a few missing signatures. Learn how to copy signatures, becuase you'll be doing it all the time. You don't want to bother the customer to come back in and fill in the missing signatures. Without using the word "forgery," learn how to sign documents on behalf of the customer - that's my advice."

After getting some online kick back on his advice, on Feb 19 Bubba B commented that "it was just a joke" so you would think that would be the end of it? No way.

Later that same day, Bubba B comes back to post this sage observation "Everyone one this site has "signed" for the customer. That includes the author, trust me."

Eventually, even Marv admits to his past sins. "... I will admit there is little I haven't done when I was younger." It takes some guts by Marv to admit past mistakes - especially when given as a bit of advice to the next generation of finance sales persons who all-too-often seem to view profits as more important than what they may be doing to people.

Every industry has its share of bad apples. Car dealers and lawyers seem to get the worst of the bad rap though. Perhaps that's because neither of them explain enough about what is going to their customer?

So what does all this mean for you as a car-buying customer? Never trust someone in the business that you don't know really, really well. And if you actually do know them really, really well? Trust them only some of the time and double check everything going on anyway. So you don't waste your money.

Be careful out there. There's sharks in the water. And I'll admit that some of them wear suits too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves everyday