Monday

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. 

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.