Sunday

A Farmer's Son Who Came Home, and Those Who Didn't. Remember this day.

Every Memorial Day we pause to remember and thank those who gave their all so that all of us could have the life we have in this country. We also pause to remember those who served and to reflect on the meaning of this Memorial day by republishing an article written several years ago, to give tribute to the veterans in all of our families - and all the veterans who have served over the generations. We pause to reflect on the millions of veterans who passed before and who inspire those who will come after them. The true story below is that of a farmer's son and a war that was only just beginning some fifty plus years ago and which now is little more than a few pages in a history book. Like every war in the last 100 years, it was life and death everyday, half a world away from the evening news.

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 back 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. And remember on this Veterans Day that there are lots of vets that aren't around for you to thank, so say thanks to those who still are. Thanks, Dad. And thank you, Larry. Two of the bravest men I have known in my lifetime. Veterans.

Tuesday

US Cars Stink in New Zealand

Is There a Stink Bug Legion in Your New Car?
Literally. US Cars literally stink in New Zealand, according to an article just published by WardsAuto news publication and Yahoo's New Zealand news online. The official announcement was made in New Zealand last December but apparently word has just reached the US. Yeah, right, guys.

It turns out that stink bugs, those pesky fingernail size brown bugs, can infest cars shipped to New Zealand from the US and the island's government officials have put in place a ban on imported US motor vehicles that are shipped to the country unless they have first been fumigated. Or "heat treated" to kill the bugs.

“We are working closely with importers and treatment suppliers to ensure imported vehicles can receive biosecurity clearance where possible, although, if there are no suitable decontamination options, non-compliant vehicles may have to be turned away,” New Zealand's Ministry Biosecurity and Environment Manager Paul Hallett says.

The untreated US car ban  is intended to keep the pesky bugs out of New Zealand before they do damage to the country's agriculture.

So, it is from New Zealand that US consumers learn that US cars have stink bugs in them. A no-extra-cost standard feature, mind you.

If your new car or new truck stinks, call us. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.


Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons for More than 25 Years
It's what we do.

Monday

Car Dealers and Dead Donkeys

We were asked the other day why a car dealer who lied to a customer should have to do anything more than merely take back the car and refund their money. Seems some car dealers and their attorneys think that's enough. Paying "more" means paying what the law calls "punitive damages" and there's a reason for them. I think it was my dad or older brother who first explained to me, years ago, why punitive damages are a necessary part of our society and legal system. It's because of Chuck. Let me explain.

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a donkey from a farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

The next day he drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died." Chuck replied, "Well, then, just give me my money back." The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already." Chuck said, "Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey."

The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?" Chuck said, "I'm going to raffle him off." The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead donkey!" Chuck said, "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?" Chuck said, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $898.00." The farmer said, "Didn't anyone complain?" Chuck said, "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back." Chuck grew up and works for a car dealer now.

Punitive damages are necessary to punish those few business people who knowingly do something that's just plain wrong and is so bad that they need to be taught a lesson and made an example of. 499 people paid Chuck two dollars and never knew they were ripped off. When the one who found out complained, why Chuck just paid them off by refunding their two dollars.

Meanwhile, by lieing to everyone (okay, technically he just hid the truth) Chuck made $898 profit off the scheme.

That's why just making a con artist refund your money is not enough. You have to stop the scheme and as long as they make money off the scheme itself, simply making them refund your money won't be enough to make them stop what they are doing. You have to go deeper into their pocket because people like that only understand one thing: money. After all, if they understood right and wrong, they wouldn't be selling raffle tickets for dead donkeys.

Same thing is true of a thieving car dealer who you catch ripping you off. The average car dealer fights hard to keep from taking back a bad car. Why? Because there's an old saying in the business that goes like this "Once it goes over the curb, we don't take it back."

Nowadays, the smart car dealer will argue but then eventually give up and take it back. They argue hard at first to try to avoid taking back the defective car (that's probably a visceral reaction ingrained in the breed, frankly). But if you argue long enough, the smart car dealer will take the car back just to stop your complaining. After all, they know that they can just pawn off the dead donkey on some other guy or gal, who probably won't argue as long or as loud as you do.

And they get away with it. In fact, they make money off it.

Many courts have explained that punitive damages are intended "to discourage others from committing similar wrongful acts." They don't reward the victim for being a victim. They punish someone for being a thief. Why? Because punishment works.

Otherwise, they'll just keep selling raffle tickets for dead donkeys.

If you've bought a dead donkey from a rip off car dealer, we can help. Click here to email us right now, or call us, 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Helping consumers get their money back is what we do. Everyday since 1978. Oh yeah, lots of car dealers know who we are and what we do, and that doesn't bother us one bit.


Fighting Fraud Since 1978, One Car Dealer at a Time

Wednesday

A Job Well Done

And we all love cake!
If you have a lemon car, let us make the manufacturer take it back and refund your money.

That's what we did today. And here's what a very happy client dropped off to give thanks and for our staff to enjoy (and we will, too).

For us it was just one more lemon that went back to where it came from, deservedly so.

For him it was a total refund of all his money. He's a happy man to be rid of his lemon.

Burdge Law Office
Getting Rid of Lemons is What We Do, Everyday

Monday

The Farmer's Son, a Veteran, and a War Long Ago

Every Veterans Day we pause to thank those who served and to reflect on the meaning of this day by republishing an article written several years ago, to give tribute to the veterans in all of our families - and all the veterans who have served over the generations. We pause to note not our time but to honor the time of the millions of veterans who passed before and after us. The true story below is that of a farmer's son and a war that was only just beginning some fifty plus years ago and which now is little more than a few pages in a history book. Like every war in the last 100 years, it was life and death everyday, half a world away from the evening news.

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 back 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. And remember on this Veterans Day that there are lots of vets that aren't around for you to thank, so say thanks to those who still are. Thanks, Dad. And thank you, Larry. Two of the bravest men I have known in my lifetime. Veterans.

Giving Back Is Important to Them, and to You

2,000 Empty Bins Being Passed Out to Volunteers
This year, just as our entire staff has for the last three years, our office is joining with Fairhaven Church in its annual Christmas Gift campaign.

This will be the fourth year that the local community has followed Fairhaven Church's lead to donate new clothes and supplies to under-served students and families in the region. In the past, 1,500 bins have been filled each year to help the needy in the region with clothing and personal supplies and needs.

Roughly 1 out of every 5 families in the area struggle each day to meet basic human needs, a number that is about average for Ohio. In fact, about 2,000,000 Ohioans live below the federal poverty level and Ohio exceeds the national poverty average. In the last decade poverty in Ohio increased a staggering 58%. Worse yet, roughly 61,000 veterans live in poverty.

It's time we all helped those in need.
You can help. While unemployment has decreased, the economy is much better overall, and even gasoline prices are remarkably lower than they have been since 2008, people still need help. And now is the time to pitch in.

This year, there will be 2,000 bins and Burdge Law Office and our entire staff are proud to be doing our part to help families in the Centerville, Franklin, Kettering, Northmont and Springboro school districts.

So the next time you see a chance to help someone, stop and do it. You'll be surprised how much better you will feel about yourself and your community too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers, Everyday. It's What We Do.

UPDATE - Hyundai and Kia Fined $100 Million by US

Money to Burn?
The New York Times is reporting that Hyundai - Kia have been fined $100 million by the US EPA and Justice Department for falsified mileage data numbers. More on that breaking news here -



This comes on the heels of Hyundai-Kia's purchase of land for $10 billion on which to build their new headquarters building, a price equal to over $18,000 per square foot - a move many called extravagant for the car building conglomerate.

Floating in cash, the US fines seem huge and tiny at the same time.

Is it all about the profit?
UPDATE - in addition to the $100 million fine, Automotive News is reporting that in the settlement Hyundai and Kia also agreed "spend $50 million to establish an independent fuel economy certification group and forfeit some 4.75 million greenhouse gas emission credits the companies have banked under the EPA’s tailpipe emissions regulations -- estimated to be worth more than $200 million." Those EPA "credits" are estimated to have a cash value of about $45 per credit currently.

That makes the Hyunda - Kia - EPA settlement worth about $350 million total. Still only a fraction of the $10 billion the cash-rich car companies spent on the land (alone) for their new HQ.

For over two years some 13 vehicle models' fuel ratings were overstated. The fuel ratings of an economy car model are commonly known to be one of the primary marketing and advertising tactics used by motor vehicle manufacturers to attract buyers.

While the manufacturers were still defending the way they calculated their mpg numbers that they reported to the federal government, Automotive News also reported that Hyundai and Kia used “cherry-picked” data and conducted testing in ways “that did not reflect good engineering judgement” that ultimately led to artificially high fuel economy ratings for most of its lineup at the time in question, according to the DOJ’s statement.

It just goes to show you that when big corporations have millions of dollars at stake, they are not shy about fudging the numbers if it means big bucks in ill-gotten profits and stealing customers from the other competing auto makers.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves, Everyday

Saturday

Does Your Bank Care When You Get Ripped Off? They Should!

Where Can You Complain About a Car Dealer?
Yesterday we gave you a list of places where you can complain if you end up with a lemon and your dealer won't help you, or if you get ripped off by a car dealer, what some folks call "car sales fraud." Not every dealer is a crook and not every car is a lemon - in fact, most aren't. But if that's what happens to you or what you end up with and you can't get them to take care of your problem, there is another route you can go to get attention to your problem, if you let the dealer set up the loan for you when you bought the vehicle. Your lender.

Why should the bank or finance company care? Because they don't want to be associated with a bad dealer anymore than you do, even though they make thousands of dollars off their relationship with the dealer by letting the dealer set up their loan with you.

More importantly, if the dealer does something wrong, the lender is the one that can also be stuck with the liability to you. That's because when the dealer sets up the financing, federal law requires that there be a small clause in the finance contract that says any holder of the finance contract is liable for the sales problems that the dealer created when they sold you the vehicle.

So your lender, finance company, or bank cares for the same reason that they care about anything - because it can cost them money. So your complaint can matter to them.

Here is a list of the name and contact information for many of the lending institutions who car dealers work with in the Ohio Miami Valley. If  you get ripped off by a car dealer, or you end up with a lemon and a dealer who won't help you out, then you may want to contact the lender and ask them why they do business with that dealer and why they don't care about you as a customer.

Banks and credit unions and finance companies - they need to hear your complaints so they know what car dealers they should stay away from and not do business with, no matter how much money the dealer is offering them.

We are also including below a list of manufacturer contacts so that you can complain directly to the manufacturer about your lemon or about what their licensed dealer did to you too, and you can ask them why they let their dealers cheat people, why they won't take back your lemon, and do they care about what happens to you, their customer, too.

Remember, the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the grease! You want them to read your complaint, care about what happened to you, and do something about it for you! So if you are going to complain, then keep it short, keep it simple, keep it accurate! And don't give up. If they won't help you out and you were ripped off by a car dealer or you ended up with a lemon you can't get rid of, call or email us. We know what to do.

Ally Bank Financial
CEO Barbara Yastine
200 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265
866.710.4623

Credit Acceptance Corporation CEO Brett A.  Roberts
25505 W.  12 Mile Rd#2300
Southfield, MI 48034
248.353.2700
800.634.1506

Bank of America N.A
CEO Brian T.  Moynihan
100 N.  Tryon St.  Ste.  170
Charlotte, NC 28202
980.335.3561

AmeriCredit Financial
801 Cherry St.  Ste.  3500
Fort Worth, TX 76102
817.302.7000
800.644.2297
817.302.7897 (Fax)

River Valley Credit Union
505 Earl Blvd
Miamisburg OH 45342
937.859.1970
Smontesano@rivervalleycu.org

Day Air Credit Union
3501 Wilmington Pike
Kettering, OH 45429
937.643.2160
888.329.2472
937.643.3870 (Fax)
mail@dayair.org

Wright Patt Credit Union
2455 Executive Park Blvd                    AND                 3560 Pentagon Blvd
Fairborn, OH 45324                                                        Beavercreek, OH 45431-1706
937.912.7000
937.912.8148(Fax)

CEO Douglas Fecher dfecher@wpcu.coop
SVP, Chief Lending Officer Tim Mislansky tmislanky@wpcu.coop        
CFO Matthew Davidson mdavidson@wpcu.coop
VP, Consumer Lending Eric Bugger ebugger@wpcu.coop
VP of Marketing & Business Tracy A.  Fors tfors@wpcu.coop
VP, Internal Audit David Bowser dbowser@wpcu.coop
General Counsel Scott Everett severett@wpcu.coop

Capital One Auto Finance, Inc.              General Electric Credit Union
CEO Richard D.  Fairbank                               CEO Patrick L.  Taylor
3901 Dallas Pkwy                                               10485 Reading Rd.
Plano, TX 75093                                                Cincinnati, OH 45241
800.946.0332                                                     513.243.4328
800.689.1789
866.722.0410 (Fax)

Santander Consumer USA                           CEO Thomas G.  Dundon
Customer Complaints                         AND         SCUSA Holdings Investor Relations
Office of the President                                          PO Box 961245
PO Box 961245                                                       Forth Worth TX 76161-1245
Forth Worth, TX 76161-1245                               800.493.8219
888.222.4227                                                          investorrelations@santanderconsumerusa.com
OOPOFFICE@santanderconsumerusa.com

TD Auto Finance
CEO Timothy D.  Hockey                  AND                        Customer Resolution
27777 Inkster Rd.                                                                 PO Box 1622
Farmington Hills, MI 48334                                             Roanoke, TX 76262
248.427.6300                                                                       800.556.8172
248.427.6600 (Fax)

Mazda North American Operations
7755 Irvine Center Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618
949.727.1990

Customer Center
PO Box 19734
Irvine, CA 92623-9734
800.222.5500

CEO Jim O’Sullivan
Director of Public Relations Jeremy Barns

Chrysler Group
1000 Chrysler Drive
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
248.576.5741

General Motors
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265
313.556.500

CEO Mary Barra
General Counsel Michael Milikin

Mitsubishi Motors North American
6400 Katella Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630
714.372.600
888.648.7280

Mailing Address
PO Box 6400
Cypress CA, 90630

CEO Jeff Young
Chief Legal Officer John McElroy
Public Relations Alex Feorak

Nissan North America
One Nissan Way
Franklin, TN 37067
615.725.1000

Chief Customer Officer John Spoon
General Counsel Andrew Tavi

Did you get ripped off with an EasyCare contract by your car dealer? Here's where to complain -

Larry Dorfman, CEO
EasyCare - APCO
6010 Atlantic Boulevard
Norcross GA 30071
info@easycare.com
800.458.7071

Motor Trend
831 S.  Douglas St.
El Segundo, CA 90245

Edward Loh Editor-in-Chief
http://www.motortrend.com/staff/edward_loh/

It might help to complain to the Dayton Better Business Bureau too. Here is their contact info -
15 W.  4th St.  Ste.  300
Dayton OH 45402
937.222.5825
800.776.5301
937.222.3338 (fax)
CEO John North
jnorth@dayton.bbb.org

Mark Graham, Executive Director of Business Ethics
mgraham@dayton.bbb.org

Melissa Cutcher, Vice President of Business Relations
mcutcher@dayton.bbb.org

Christy Mauch, Director of Operations
cmauch@dayton.bbb.org

Jeanne Porter, Founder and Director of WiBN
jporter@dayton.bbb.org

And don't forget to complain to Ohio's chief law enforcement officer, the Ohio Attorney General -

Mike DeWine
30 E.  Broad St.  14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
614.466.4986

Cincinnati Office
441 Vine St.
1600 Carew Tower
Cincinnati OH 45202
513.852.3497

Chris Wagner, Assistant Attorney General
Sandra Lynskey, Chief Consumer Protection
Melissa Wright, Assistant Chief Consumer Protection
800.282.0515

And when all else fails, remember Burdge Law Office.
Getting rid of lemons, and getting your money back, that's what we do.
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves for More than 30 Years

Friday

Who Ya Gonna Call? (when you want to complain about a car dealer)

Who Ya Gonna Call?
Angry car buyers who were ripped off by a car dealer or who end up with a lemon, often ask who they can write or call or email to complain about what happened to them. Often your complaint may be answered and your problem worked out. And if not, well, at least you tried.

So, who ya gonna call? Well, here's a list of some people who need to know when you get ripped off or when you end up with a lemon. Complaining may not get you the result you want, but it will probably feel good to give your opinion about your dealer or the manufacturer's representative that you dealt with, at the very least.



Remember, the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the grease! You want them to read your complaint, care about what happened to you, and do something about it for you! So if you are going to complain, then keep it short, keep it simple, keep it accurate! And don't give up. If they won't help you out and you were ripped off by a car dealer or you ended up with a lemon you can't get rid of, call or email us. We know what to do.

Ripoff Report http://www.ripoffreport.com

Dealer Rater - http://www.mydealerreport.com/rateDealer.php

Car Dealer Check - http://cardealercheck.com/

Cars.com, Car Dealer Reviews - http://www.cars.com/dealers/reviews/?contest=true

Edmunds Car Dealer Reviews - http://www.edmunds.com/dealer-reviews/

Miami Valley Better Business Bureau, submit a review by clicking on the car dealer's name from a list, then scanning down the page to the "submit a review" link halfway down the page - http://www.bbb.org/dayton/business-reviews/auto-dealers-new-cars

Google Places Reviews - do a Google search for the name of the dealer and then look to the Google Places info on the right of your screen and for the "review" link (it is explained step by step at this link: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2622999?hl=en)

Yelp, Write a Review - http://www.yelp.com

Dayton Daily Newspaper Google Plus Page - https://plus.google.com/103336035898501112818/about

WHIO-TV Google Plus Page - https://plus.google.com/100075856944361011392/posts

WDTN-TV - http://wdtn.com/about-us/contact-us/

And don't forget Facebook and and Twitter. The dealer or the manufacturer may have a page where you can go to complaint or write your own review.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves For More Than 30 Years

Tuesday

Tell-all Consumer Law Book Released - "Consumer Courage"

the big book of ohio consumer rights
Get it free. Use it to protect yourself.
You have more legal rights than you know. And now there's a free book that tells you all about your legal rights as a consumer in the marketplace.

There are a lot of consumer protection laws in every state and, frankly, most folks have never heard of most of them. Heck, a lot of lawyers and judges don't even know about all of them either.

Well, now is your chance to learn what they are and how to use them to protect yourself and your family.

When you have a question about buying something for your personal or family use or if you want to avoid being scammed, there's  an easy-to-read guide book that tells you all about the 9 areas of law that you and your family need to know to stay safe and avoid getting ripped off. It's called Consumer Courage.

It's free. It's brand new. And it is written for you to use - not for lawyers. Oh, okay, lawyers can find their "lawyer stuff" (citations and things) at the end of the book in the Attorney's Index, so they can go look up things if they want. But this book is for ordinary folks to use. And use it, you should.

Although this 118-page book deals with Ohio law, you could look up the same laws in practically every state and you would likely find that most of them are the same everywhere. So this law is great for Ohio consumers and consumers elsewhere too.

You can download it for free and ask and they will mail you a copy for free.

Mark Wiseman is the author and he spent a year putting together a solid explanation of the laws and rules that are made to help consumers. And as he wisely says, "you should use it to see what your rights are BEFORE you try to buy something, borrow money to buy something, or hire someone to perform a service for you."

There are chapters dealing with Ohio's "Udap" law, the Consumer Sales Practices Act, which gives consumers powerful legal rights that most merchants and businesses don't know about but you can use to protect your family and yourself.

Credit cards and credit reports are explained, data breaches and what to do about it, how to handle past due bills and telemarketers, the rules about buying cars, advertising car sales and much more.

Legal rights when it comes to home buying and home rehabbing are explained. And condo's and apartments too.

Retail sales scams and legal rights are explained, including rain checks and layaways, rent-to-own, gift card laws and the rules on health club and dating service memberships.

helping consumers make financially safe decisions
Helping Consumers Be Financially Safe
There's even a chapter on the purchase rights of people with handicaps and business investing.

And just when you think you've got it all, there are 7 "bonus" buying guides added at the end that are remarkably useful too.

If you want to protect yourself, if you want to know for sure what your rights before you get scammed or ripped off, this book is for you. And the price is oh so right - FREE.

lawyers working to improve justice for all
Lawyers working to improve Justice for all.
Wiseman's work is the result of support from the NHS Consumer Law Center, whose purpose is to help consumers and their families make informed and financially safe decisions in the marketplace, and from the Ohio State Bar Foundation, lawyers working to improve Justice for all.

If you want to be safe in the marketplace, if you want to make sure that you and your family don't become victims of crooked car dealers or telemarketers or scam artists, get this book. Read it. Use it. As sure as you do, you'll be glad you did. As sure as you don't, you'll wish you did.

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

Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves, Everyday

30 Million GM Vehicles Recalled in 2014, And Still Counting

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

Friday

Give Them Back Their Rights, Court of Appeals Says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday

Things are Cozy in Korea for Kia and Hyundai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday

The $18,851 Shoes at Hyundai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

Most Common Car Complaints? CarComplaints.com has the Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons Everyday