Monday

State Farm - Not a Good Neighbor?


Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there ... right in the middle of trouble!

At least 8 lawsuits have been filed around Ohio against State Farm, salvage yards and wrecked car rebuilders, and car dealers who sold rebuilt cars without disclosing the truth about their prior history. Others are being filed around the country.

Read the newspaper article by clicking here.

In each case consumers bought a car or truck or suv and received a clear title, only to find out last September that they had bought a vehicle that State Farm had totaled out in the recent years. The lawsuits claim that State Farm was totaling out vehicles nationwide and reselling them to junk yards and salvage yards with "clean" titles, car titles that showed no history of the truth about what had happened to them.

The vehicles could then be rebuilt and dumped on the used car market, where unsuspecting buyers would pay thousands of dollars to buy what they thought were good used cars, only to find out later that they were worth no more than a fraction of the price. Some insurance companies won't insure a salvage vehicle and some banks won't give a loan to buy a salvage vehicle.

Worse yet, without a thorough safety inspection, the current owner of a salvage car could be driving a shoddily repaired car with "fake" airbags or other inadequate repairs. It could cost thousands of dollars to make a salvage car roadworthy and safe again.


You can find out more about Salvage Cars and why they can be a dangerous consumer ripoff by clicking here.

Wednesday

Some Cars Run Right

The latest annual reliability survey from Consumer Reports applauds some Asian automakers while again lobbing lemons at US makers and, this time, tossing a few at European automakers too.

The "Top 31 most reliable" scorecard:
Japanese: 29
US: 2
European: 0

The "Worst 48 least reliable" scorecard:
US: 22
European: 20
Japan: 4 (all Nissan)
South Korea: 2 (the Hundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage)

On the Worst list, Audi A8, BMW 5 and 7 Series, Mercedes S and E Class, Jaguar S Type, Saab 9-3, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chrysler 300 V-8, and Lincoln LS.

Toyota and Lexus make up more than half of the vehicles on the highest reliability rating from Consumer Reports, but Honda Accord, Civic Hybrids, Infiniti M35-45, nonturbo Subaru Impreza, Toyota Prius and the Lexus RX400h hybrid also got top scores.

When it comes to SUV's, the Asian manufacturers still score most reliable overall, but among the worst reliability were the Infiniti QX56 and Nissan Armada, proving that sometimes even the Asians get it wrong.

It's not unusual to see Asian manufacturers ranking high on reliability again ... that seems to be their record in the Consumer Reports surveys. What is a surprise is to see European makers dropping so far into the pits. Engineering and design and safety excellence have long been touted by the likes of Mercedes, Saab, Volvo and even VW, but survey results just don't show it.

Of course, with GM's recent plant closing announcements, and previous announcements from Ford, it doesn't bode well for US makers. Question is, which came first: lousy economics or poor quality? Or maybe it was just bad customer appreciation that started the fall from grace with US consumers.

Either way, US makers will not be first place until they realize that they have to build cars right in the first place, treat customers right in the first place, and fix problems right in the first place (the first time in the shop).

That new car smell is still great, but it's that repair shop odor that sours consumers every time.

Tuesday

Ford SUV Windshields Being Investigated

Ford Motor Co. is facing an intense federal government safety investigation and the potential recall of 653,471 Expedition sport utility vehicles because leaky windshields can cause electrical failures for parts such as headlights and wipers.

The inquiry covers 1999 through 2001 models, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site. The action is based on consumer complaints to the agency and 1,464 complaints made to Ford itself.

The investigation, which began in June, was raised to an "engineering analysis," the Washington-based agency said. Last June Ford was instructed to turn over numerous internal documents relating to the electrical failure and leaky windshield issues. Seven in 10 investigations that reach that level result in recalls, according to NHTSA figures.

If you've got a leaky SUV windshield, promptly complain to your dealer. Don't wait until you are driving down the road at night and your headlights go out, and then remember that you meant to make that call!

Friday

Toyota Calls Back Thousands of Prius Cars for Stalling

Got a Prius? Be careful ...

On October 13, 2005 Toyota Motor Corp. announced that it was in the process of notifying 75,000 Prius owners in the United States of a software glitch that can cause the hybrid cars to suddenly stall or shut down with little or no warning at all. It usually happens at between 35 and 65 mph.

For months Toyota has been investigating reports of stalling in the 2004 and 2005 Prius models. Some of the malfunctioning Prius cars had to be towed to the shop before they could even be restarted. Toyota had previously been blaming problems on a "software glitch" in the Prius computer system.

The problem may cause warning lights in the vehicles to come on prompting the Prius to enter a fail-safe mode that will cause the gasoline engines to stall. Toyota says that the electric motor in the vehicles have sufficient power to allow the driver to pull the vehicle over and away from traffic.

The vehicles involved in the Toyota service action are from the 2004 and 2005 model years. Toyota sold 53,991 of the Prius in 2004 and 81,042 so far this year. Toyota says this is not a recall but is sending letters to Prius owners asking that they take the cars to a dealership for free (of course) repairs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into the problem after receiving a number of complaints about the hybrid vehicles stalling or stopping unexpectedly, often on highways.

Toyota identified a "programming error" in the computer systems of 23,900 Prius cars last year and sent owners a service notice advising them to bring the cars into dealers for an hour-long software "upgrade."

Wednesday

Ford Makes Money from Tire Recalls

Tough times at Ford aren't quite as tough as you may think, and factory recalls don't always cost as much as they say either.

Bridgestone-Firestone has agreed to pay $240,000,000 (that's right, nearly a quarter of a Billion dollars) to Ford in order to settle liability claims by Ford over the recall of defective tires in year 2000 and 2001 that were linked to deadly highway accidents.

'The Bridgestone group benefits from the certainty that a settlement brings,' said Shoshi Arakawa, executive vice president, international operations of Bridgestone Corp. 'It is clear that the best option for the future of the North American tire business was to explore whether an acceptable settlement could be reached which would allow Firestone to put this matter behind it and focus on its future business opportunities. This settlement achieves that goal.' That's some pretty nicely worded spin language.

Ford replaced about 30 million Firestone tires in 2000 and 2001 after US federal safety regulators documented hundreds of accidents involving tire tread seperation in accidents involving Ford's SUV Explorer sport utility vehicle. An official investigation linked 271 fatalities and 800 accidents to events in which Explorers tipped over after parts of their Firestone tires peeled off at high speeds. Ford and Bridgestone blamed each other for the accidents, but US investigators concluded the accidents were mainly the result of flaws in the tires.

Ford paid money out when it did the recall, sure, but let's not forget that they got money back, too.

Recalls don't really cost as much as some manufacturers claim because they often can recover that money from the supplier who sold them the bad parts in the first place. That's only fair. It's also only fair that Ford live up to its first and primary responsibility to the consumer in the first place, without denying a claim by trying to blame someone else for the cars that it builds.

Monday

Ganley Ford's Hurricane Katrina Ad Gets Them In Trouble

ConsumerAffairs and the Ohio Attorney General are reporting that Cleveland's Ganley Ford was the subject of legal action by the Ohio Attorney General after the car dealer advertised that "hundreds" of vehicles would be shipped to Ganley from Louisiana for resale because of hurricane Katrina. Turns out the dealers records couldn't support the dealer's claim that "truckloads of cars have been diverted to Ganley Ford where they will be released to the public for just pennies on the dollar".

From what the AG's office reported, it all appears to have been just a big come on to drum up sales. To settle up with the AG, Ganley agreed to pay $15,000 to the state's Consumer Protection Enforcement Fund plus $25,000 more to the Red Cross as a charitable donation directed to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

We think that stinks ... and it just goes to show how low some car dealers will stoop to take advantage of a disaster.

If you're ever in Cleveland and looking for a Ford, you might want to think real hard about the mentality at Ganley before you go there to buy anything! After all, if Ford's are built Ford Tough, Ganley Ford's sales tactics just might even be tougher ... on the customer, that is!

Wednesday

Buying a Car Over the Internet is Risky Business !

Here's a warning from Consumer Affairs.com below, telling the tale of a lucky car buyer who almost gave up thousands of dollars for an internet car purchase that she probably never would have seen at all!

I continue to be amazed by the internet sale of used vehicles. I've seen bad deals involving $10,000 Chevy's and $70,000 + Porsche's and everything in between. If a car dealer will rip you off when you are standing right in front of them, looking them in the eye, what makes you think they will think twice about it when it's all done over the internet?

You can find more reports about internet car sale fraud and learn what to do about it at this site and running a few searches on key words.

Read this article and take note of the tips and clues that led this buyer out of the trap that she was almost caught in ... courtesy of ConsumerAffairs.Com:

August 17, 2005 A growing number of con artists are using online car sales sites, like AutoTrader and Ebay, to bilk unsuspecting consumers out of thousands of dollars. By being alert, consumers can avoid this trap.

Deborah, of Galt, California negotiated the purchase of a car on Autotrader.com. The deal was moving smoothly toward conclusion, she says, until the seller suddenly directed her to send the money to a company called HoldMyCar.com. That’s when Deborah decided to do a little research. She went to HoldMyCar’s Web site. It said the company was located in Camarillo, California and was a member of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce. They certainly looked legitimate. But then she started digging a little deeper. “This website not only has a false address, it contains many false statements. It instructed me to wire money to an individual’s account, not a business account,” she told ConsumerAffairs.Com. “I also discovered that not only were they not a member of the Camarillo California Chamber of Commerce, but the address listed on the Web site was indeed the Chamber’s address!” Deborah contacted the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce and was told the organization was aware that scammers had appropriated their address. Local police had been notified, she was told. Deborah never completed the transaction and never sent any funds to the bogus holding company. By staying alert, she avoided becoming a victim.

Holdmycar.com was registered earlier this year through an Australian Internet registrar, the CyberFrontier Registry of Byron Bay, New South Wales. No information is available on the company or individual who registered the name through CyberFrontier.

After an inquiry by ConsumerAffairs.Com, the company hosting the site, CyberFrontier U2Networks Group, said it would suspend the site until presented with evidence of a valid business license.

Holdmycar.com's Web site lists its corporate parent as HMC Inc., 2400 E. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo. The California Secretary of State official corporate listings show an HMC Inc. in Westlake Village but there is no such corporation listed at the Camarillo address.

The telephone number on the Web site, 888-329-8318, is answered by what appears to be a fax machine.

Sunday

11 Steps Dealers Use to Rip You Off, Steps 9-11

A motor vehicle salesperson recently explained to me that there are 11 steps that dealers use to get the most money out of you that they can get in a deal. I call it 11 Steps Dealers Use to Rip You Off. Here are Steps 9 thru 11, along with some comments and tips to help you avoid wasting your money!

Step 1: Dealer Prep
Step 2: Sales Meetings at Dealership
Step 3: Meet and Greet the Customer
Step 4: Stealing the Trade-in During the Appraisal
Step 5: Qualify the Customer
Step 6: Land the Customer on a Car
Step 7: Work the Deal and the Customer (puts the customer in ether)
Step 8: The Turnover

Step 9: F&I Smokes the Paperwork
Just when you think you’ve got a deal, maybe even a good one, they turn you over to the one who really puts the screws to you: the "F & I manager," sometimes called a "Business Manager."
This person’s job is to take the deal you think you’ve got and make it even better ... for them, of course. They do this by "packing" (adding the cost into your deal without you realizing it) credit life insurance, disability insurance, service contract charges, "Gap" insurance, rustproofing, and other "soft" add-on’s (extra cost things that don’t add any value to the vehicle itself) into the deal. They know that if they do the job really good, you will never even know it’s happened to you until you get home and hours (or better yet, days or weeks) later, if you happen to look more closely at what you signed and find thousands of dollars of additional charges for things you didn’t realize were being added into the deal.
Why do they do it? Because a slick car dealer can make the highest profit margin not on the car, but in the F&I office.
As an example, the Credit Life insurance that has a premium charge of $800 probably has at least $400 pure profit to the dealer. The rustproofing, paint protection and fabric protection package that shows a cost of $895 probably only cost the dealer about $150 to $250 max --- and that assumes that it’s even on the car (have you ever really figured out if that fabric protection was anything more than a spray can of stuff they sprayed on the interior?).
Statistics show that the most money a car dealer makes, on any part of the deal in selling a car, is made in the F&I office. That’s why this person has a computer (which they can blame any "mistakes" on if you catch them), a warm and fuzzy picture of the spouse and kids, and a degree of some sort in a frame on the wall: it looks good, makes you feel comfortable with their professionalism, and gets you to relax (after all, an enema is more thorough if the patient is relaxed when he gets it put to him). If there is any room in a car dealership that you really need to be careful in, and watch your step, it’s here.
Tip: Don’t let the car dealer set up your financing at all. Go to your credit union where you often will get the lowest finance rate around. Not a member? Join one. Call all of them in your local phone book or check online and find one you can join. It costs practically nothing and can save you thousands of dollars in high interest charges.
If you are going to let the dealer set up your financing, don’t buy any of the extra stuff they will try to sell you ... no matter how good they make it sound! You can get cheaper disability or life insurance from any insurance agent.
And that $1,500 extended warranty? First of all, if you must get one, never buy an extended warranty that isn’t actually from a vehicle manufacturer ... they cost too much, you get too little coverage, out of town dealers and repair shops often won’t honor it, and there is often no one who is really going to stand behind it. Those kind of extended warranties are sometimes called "P O Box warranties" because they operate out of a post office box with nothing behind it.
The dealer’s F&I office? Simple. It’s where you can expect to get ripped off the worst.

Step 10: Deliver the Iron
This is the fastest part of the process, because it is where the customer goes over the curb (hopefully before the customer finds out what has just been done to them) and there’s an old saying in the business: once it goes over the curb, it ain’t comin’ back!
The entire process is designed to put you behind the wheel and get you out the door. "Emotional ownership" they call it. That means you become emotionally "invested" in the car. Your friends and family and neighbors see you driving the new car. You start to brag about what a great deal you got and how they were so nice to you down at the car lot. Then it all comes back with a vengence when the hit you with the next step.
Tip: Never, never, never take a vehicle home unless everything that you want the dealer to do has been done. When they tell you that you need to make an appointment after the sale for the service department to install the special wheels or the upgraded stereo system or whatever, don’t buy it! If they want to sell it to you bad enough, they’ll find the time to get it done right away. You shouldn’t have to return to get things done to a vehicle that the dealer agreed to do as part of the sale. Make sure everything is done and done right before you take the keys and drive home.

Step 11: De-Horsing the Customer (The "Gimmee Back" Trick)
Just when you get comfortable, driving that new car, showing it off to your friends and coworkers and family, the dealer calls you up and tells you that there’s a slight problem: your loan didn’t go thru (never mind the fact that before you left the lot they told you your credit was already approved).
Now they tell you that the bank wants you to put more money down, or the bank has changed its interest rates, or they had to get your loan thru another bank and they need you to come down and sign another finance contract. The excuse can be almost anything ("the fax machine ate my copy of your contract" is a good one), but it often is just completely made up.
It’s called de-horsing you (like you take a "cowboy" off his horse, just as he settles into the saddle). They know you’ll balk and then do almost anything to keep from looking bad to your friends, family and neighbors (after all, are you really going to tell them that your credit wasn’t good enough to get the loan?). It can all be a scam designed to get more money out of you by doing things like increasing the interest rate on you (which is really set by the dealer in most cases, and not by the bank at all), or making you pay more money down, or rewriting the loan and packing something new in the deal ("the bank says they’ll approve the loan but only if you get an extended warranty to protect you in case the car breaks down when it is beyond the manufacturer’s warranty").
Tip: The point is, if they call you up after the deal is done, be careful. They could just be trying to get more money out of you and into their own pocket. Demand to know what banks are involved and who they talked to; call the banks and ask yourself; if it really is legit and you have to resign the finance contract, compare the new terms with the old terms (interest rate, loan length, monthly payment, total amount financed, total of payments --- all the numbers in the "federal box") and make sure that nothing, but nothing is changed. If it is, refuse to sign it and call us right away toll free 1.888.331.6422 or email us! Chances are you may not have to give your new vehicle back at all, no matter what the dealer is telling you.
And don’t go down to the dealership with that new car that you thought you already owned, park it in your garage and take a cab! You won’t be the first one that they blocked in so you couldn’t get the car out when you refuse to resign their papers! When you show up without the car, you’ll have the leverage instead of the dealer.

Remember: be careful when you go shopping for a motor vehicle. If you think you’ve been ripped off, lied to or cheated, or if you bought a lemon car or lemon truck or lemon motorcycle, call us toll free 1.888.331.6422 or email us for fast help. We know how to fight dealers and manufacturers ... we’ve been doing it since 1978.

Thursday

11 Steps Dealers Use to Rip You Off, Steps 5-8

A motor vehicle salesperson recently explained to me that there are 11 steps that dealers use to get the most money out of you that they can get in a deal. I call it 11 Steps Dealers Use to Rip You Off. We posted the first four steps and now it's time for the next four ... along with some comments and tips to help you avoid wasting your money!

Step 1: Dealer Prep
Step 2: Sales Meetings at Dealership
Step 3: Meet and Greet the Customer
Step 4: Stealing the Trade-in During the Appraisal


Step 5: Qualify the Customer
This is where the salesman tries to figure out what is the most amount of money he can get out of you, by selling you as much car as your credit will qualify for. It’s may have nothing to do with what you want or what you need, but everything to do with who makes salesman of the month.
Tip: Watch out if they ask for your driver’s license while you take the test drive; if your social security number is on your license, they can run a credit check on you while you’re out on the test drive and by the time you return they will know exactly how much credit you’ve got and what the bank will probably approve. Armed with that, they then can decide what car and what price they will sell you on.
You should negotiate the price of the car first. Then negotiate your loan length and monthly payment amount. Don’t let them run a credit check on you until you’ve got those basic terms worked out. And never give a car dealer your social security number until you are ready to let them set up the financing for you.

Step 6: Land the Customer on a Car
The worst thing an inexperienced car salesman can do is let the customer roam the lot, and they know it. They don’t want you to compare one car to another because, what with dozens or hundreds to choose from, you could spend the whole day and never decide. They don’t make a commission by just showing you a car. They only get paid when they sell you one, and that doesn’t happen until they "land" you on a specific piece of iron (a vehicle).
That’s why they will ask you qualifying questions to figure out things like color, size, number of doors, performance aspects, stereo system, and much more. Once they land you on a specific car, the real sales job begins --- on you!
Tip: Know what you want before you go to the dealer’s lot. Know what the average selling price is likely to be by checking online and looking in newspaper ads. Find out what rebates are going on by checking online.
Does the salesperson seem to be pushing a specific car or model, whether you really want it or not? Most likely that’s because there’s a secret dealer-only incentive, sort of a "dealer rebate" that the manufacturer pays the dealer to get the dealer to help unload a car line or model that is a poor seller. On the lot the dealer sometimes pays the salesperson a bonus for "moving slow iron", and in the business it's called a spiff. Check it out carefully.

Step 7: Work the Deal and the Customer (puts the customer in ether)
Now it really gets interesting. Now the salesman starts on you. First they’ll take the payment approach to selling you. That means they’ll avoid the price and keep the sales conversation focused on how much monthly payment you can afford.
It used to be people bought cars based on price, but then we all started living on budgets and car dealers quickly learned that fact. Then they learned that if they could get you to stretch your budget "just a little more", then they could pump up the price and that meant more profit for them.
Expect the salesman to start with a monthly payment that is two or three times what you told him you could afford. They don’t expect it, but figure the shock will get you used to the idea of having to pay more than you thought you would when you walked onto the lot (never mind reality). They usually figure that as your monthly payment goes up, the loan length goes down, but watch out for the guy who does it both ways.
Part of all of this is "the ether." "Putting the customer in the ether" means getting the customer excited (or distracted) so they do not realize what is happening to them in the deal. That’s when the real profit can be made.
Tip: The first step to buying a car is making your budget. Know how much monthly payment you can really afford before you ever go car shopping. And then, aim to spend at least 10% less than your budgeted amount. That way you still have some "room" left over. Never go above the number ... no matter what. The more you stick to you number, the better off you will be! Don’t buy more of a vehicle than you can afford. If you do, the next time you go shopping you can be sure you’ll hear the salesperson say you’ve got negative equity (whether you really do or not).
And when you make your deal, before you sign the contract, make sure that everything (absolutely everything) has been written down on the contract. Remember: oral promises aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
Also before you sign the contract, make sure there’s nothing in it about "arbitration" or a "jury waiver" either. If you see anything like that, just take that ink pen and scratch it out on every single copy! An honest car dealer is not afraid of a jury made up of ordinary people. So if you see an arbitration clause or jury waiver in the contract, you know what kind of car dealer you are dealing with ... don’t sign the contract at all! You don’t have to give up your legal rights just to buy a motor vehicle.

Step 8: The Turnover
If the buyer becomes too difficult for the salesman to handle or deal with, the salesman knows he is supposed to "T.O." the customer (turn him over) to a more aggressive sales person or manager, sometimes called "the closer", whose job is to brow beat the customer into signing the paperwork and closing the deal on the best (highest) terms he can get for the store (the dealership).
A closer is well trained in the art of deceptive psychology. He knows how to play the customer, all the angles to work, and how to "homer" the customer on the deal. Closers have their own "style" of dealing with people. Some of them seem to be perfect gentlemen, while others have been known to pound on their desks or even scream at the customer or even get right in your face to intimidate you.
Tip: Remember: it’s all a game to them. It’s a challenge. If they start to play games with you, just get up and leave. You don’t have to do business with crazy people, liars, or thieves. That's not what you usually find a most car dealerships, but when you do ... just get up and leave.

Steps 9 thru 11 Coming Soon!

For now, if you've been ripped off by a car dealer, or if you've got a lemon, email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Getting rid of lemons and getting your money back, that's what we do. Every day.


Tuesday

11 Steps Dealers Use to Rip You Off, Steps 1-4

A motor vehicle salesperson recently explained to me that there are 11 steps that dealers use to get the most money out of you that they can get in a deal. I call it 11 Steps Dealers Use to Rip You Off. Here are Steps 1 thru 4, along with some comments and tips to help you avoid wasting your money!

Step 1: Dealer Prep
For new cars, it means doing what the factory requires but watch out they don’t try to charge you for "dealer prep" because the factory actually pays them for it anyway. Charging you too gives them double the money!
For used cars, it could mean anything from putting sawdust in the transmission to "clocking" the odometer (altering it to reflect a more desirable lower number that makes the vehicle worth more), or a lot more.
Tip: For used cars, ask to take the car to get an inspection done by an independent mechanic. If they won't let you, there's probably a reason so be careful. For new cars, watch out for all the extra charges the dealer will try to tack on to the deal...they are all negotiable!

Step 2: Sales Meetings at Dealership
This is usually a morning pep rally where management pumps up the sales staff, tells them what iron (a vehicle) has the spiff’s (cash bonus to the salesman who sells it first), and other promo’s.

Step 3: Meet and Greet the Customer
"Lot lizards" (salespersons) are generally required to pounce on the customer the minute he steps foot on the lot but, of course, by using businesslike polite language and introductions.
Tip: Make no mistake about it. Their only goal is to sell you a vehicle for the most they can get out of you. Salespersons are paid on commission ... the higher the price they get you to pay, the more money they make.

Step 4: Stealing the Trade-in During the Appraisal
You may not realize that the salesperson usually tells you that your trade-in vehicle is worth less than it really is and a lot less than you think it is. They may even tell you that it’s got what they call "negative equity".
That’s a term car dealers invented when they had to come up with some way of explaining why your car wasn’t worth what you owed on it when you wanted to trade it in, but they didn’t think there was enough profit in it for them to take it off your hands. "Upside down" or "in the bucket" are similar terms.

These terms can be used to play games with the buyer in order to literally steal the trade-in vehicle, by taking it in for trade but taking the payoff amount and tacking it onto the price of the car that the customer is buying.
Tip: Defend yourself by knowing for sure what your trade-in is worth and finding out what your loan payoff really is. Don’t take the dealer’s word for it. Know before you go. Check trade-in values online. Look in newspapers to see what dealers are selling your kind of trade-in vehicle for. The more you know, the better prepared you are to keep from getting ripped off. And above all, be careful thru each step of the process.

Remember: the dealer's objective is to get the money out of your pocket and into their's. Your objective is to keep as much of your money as you can!

Steps 5 thru 11 will be posted soon!

For now, if you've been ripped off by a car dealer, or if you've got a lemon, email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Getting rid of lemons and getting your money back, that's what we do. Every day.


Judges Say Frivolous Lawsuits Don't Exist

Federal judges are saying that all the publicity over so-called "frivolous lawsuits" is just hype. It isn't a major problem in the federal courts, say the overwhelming majority of federal judges.

The Washington-based Federal Judicial Center conducted a survey ("Report of a Survey of U.S. District Judges' Experiences and Views Concerning Rule 11") and 278 federal judges responded. A whopping 70% said frivolous lawsuits were either a "very small" or a "small" problem while another 15% said it was not a problem at all.

Sicne around 1993 there have been federal and many state court rules, generally called "Rule 11", that allow judges to punish people who bring groundless lawsuits, including their attorneys. 87% of the survey participants favored keeping Rule 11 just as it is and 91% opposed the "Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act" which is now pending in Congress and which would require mandatory sanctions on attorneys who bring frivolous lawsuits.

Leaving the law alone allows Judges to look at each case individually and decide what persons and attorneys are really abusing the system and then punish each of them appropriately.

This study confirms what many attorneys already suspected --- frivolous lawsuits are few and far between and judges already have all the power they need to punish those who bring them.

The reality is that frivolous lawsuits are not a real problem at all. They are just an excuse being used by politicians to hamstring the legal rights of consumers everywhere. Owners of lemon cars don't bring "frivolous" lawsuits because they have real, genuine problems with defective motor vehicles that manufacturers won't buy back or replace for what many people think is one reason and one reason only ... because customer satisfaction takes a back seat to corporate profit and loss statements.

People still think many lawsuits are frivolous, even though the evidence doesn't support the myth. Until the myth is seen for what it is though, for now if you've got a lemon, email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Getting rid of lemons and getting your money back, that's what we do. Every day.


Wednesday

Gm Recalls Even More Vehicles

Well, Gm must be out to prove that they can recall more cars in 30 days than anyone ever has.

Last month it was 2 million in a series of massive safety recalls that covered virtually all 2003 - 2005 SUV's and crew cab trucks. You can read more details by going to this web page: (click here).

This month, it's another 305,000 SUV's for bad tail light systems being recalled. This time its 2003 and 2004 model year vehicles, including Olds Bravada and Chevy Trailblazer vehicles.

Last year Gm had the most recalls (in fact they started off 2004 with a massive recall in January of 824,00 vehicles) and this year Gm's off to a good start to stay #1.

Is it any wonder that last quarter Gm reported a $1.1 billion dollar loss? So how do they plan to cope if these kind of losses continue? Very cleverly, apparently. They seem to be reading a page out of United Airlines' bankruptcy court playbook ...

The Detroit News is reporting: "Should GM continue to burn cash, the automaker could withdraw up to $6 billion in cash over the next 18 months from a $20 billion fund set up to provide health care for retired U.S. union workers and their dependents, Chief Financial Officer John Devine told reporters and analysts on a conference call. An analyst with Sanford Bernstein said in a recent report that GM could use the threat of refusing to pay for retiree health care to force the United Auto Workers union to pay more for health-care costs." Oh, that's just great. Blue collar pays for white collar mistakes?

To paraphrase Wharton, whatever the U.S. car companies have learned in the past, they have learned the hard way. The opening sentence of GM's 2003 annual report seems to have predicted both 2004 and now 2005 for GM: "Here's what's new about GM's strategy this year: Nothing."

But don't worry, says BusinessWeek. GM is not in danger of going bankrupt while it still has a huge cash stockpile. The fact is Gm has a ton of ready cash. Gm's got $19.8 billion in cash, marketable securities, and money it can tap from a pre-funded retiree benefits fund. That doesn't even count $8.3 billion Gm has available from bank credit lines and probably another $5 billion GM could pull out of profitable General Motors Acceptance Corp.

Once upon a time quality mattered ... but then again so did the customer. Worse yet, employees used to matter too. When those things matter most again, Gm's prospects can probably change.

For now, if you've got a lemon Chevrolet, lemon Buick, lemon Pontiac, lemon Saturn, or any lemon GM product, email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Getting rid of lemons and getting your money back, that's what we do. Every day.


Monday

Who Makes the Worst Cars?

Okay, so you're probably wondering...who makes the worst cars? We don't know, but we do know who we get the most complaints about and who our clients file lawsuits against more than anyone else.

We keep track of our numbers. And what our numbers are in Ohio may be different from what the numbers are in a different state. Still, we can give you some clues.

First, let's talk about who makes what must be the best cars, based on the number of complaints and lawsuits we see and hear about. Lexis. No doubt about it. Out of all the vehicle manufacturers that we've dealt with going all the way back to 1978, Lexis is the only company that we can think of that we have never had to file a lawsuit against.

We've filed lawsuits against all the rest...from Sterling (they left the USA long ago) and Yugo (arguably one of the causes of the fall of Communism in Yugoslavia), to the usual Ford and Chrysler and GM cars. Yes, we know that Chrysler is now called DaimlerChrysler, but it's still Chrysler to us...just with a Germanic accent, we suppose.

But out of the "big three" (Chrysler, Ford, and GM), who do we file lawsuits against the most? That's an easy question. Ford is the answer, but that can be partly based on their "attitude" of "we build no wrong" car or truck. They just seem to have a hard time admitting that sometimes things go wrong. Most of the time we see them blame the owner for what's going wrong, while the owner is, of course, saying the dealer is incompetent (never mind the fact that they often are) and defects in the manufacturing process (did you know that GM once built a car that required the engine to be removed in order to change the spark plugs? or that they once described a common steering defect as "morning sickness"?).

Following Ford, GM comes in second place but only because of quantity. They sell more so, statistically speaking, more are bound to go wrong, we think. Still the good thing about GM is that they at least "step up to the plate" and try to satisfy their customers. We think they realize that it's better to keep a customer than to lose them to the competition.

Chrysler? They come in third place, no doubt. The quantity of sales is probably smaller but, frankly, the quality is higher. And sometimes they actually care about their customers enough to try to avoid a lawsuit if they can. Still, when you get a bad one, you get a bad one.

Have you noticed that we haven't said much about foreign cars? Honestly, we think there is a reason. Maybe two. First, they seem to build them better. Yes, we know ... it's unAmerican to say it, but if you think about it, it just might be honest. Second, we think they they "schmooze" the customer better. The simple fact is that if the dealer keeps the customer satisfied or stalled off successfully, then the customer never gets mad enough to go see a lawyer. The result? They never learn their legal rights until it's often too late.

But, and it's an important "but", the foreign manufacturers (even when the car is actually being built here in the USA), the have a "foreign attitude". What does that mean? Simple. If it's a European manufacturer, you can bet they will fight but they usually realize from the start that it's a losing battle. If it's an Asian manufacturer, they fight too, but they never seem to realize (or at least won't admit it) that the car might actually have been built wrong in the first place (they often blame it on the dealer's fouling up its repair attempts).

So what can you do?

Cars are important in daily life. You gotta work, so you gotta drive a car (or truck). Just be careful. Buy the best quality you can afford. And don't drive it off the lot with any promise from the dealer on what they'll do for you later. Anything you want done to the car, you need to make them do before you take delivery. And when things go wrong ... go back and complain and complain and complain. More about "how to complain" in another article later.

For now, if you've got a lemon, email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Getting rid of lemons and getting your money back, that's what we do. Every day.


Sunday

Manufacturers - the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

It is just a fact of life that some manufacturers seem to care more about consumers than others. We've been helping consumers since 1978 and have seen many manufacturers come and go. We think that the ones who have succeeded, and have stuck around, usually have been the ones who cared more about their customers. Price didn't seem to matter as much as quality and customer concern. We can all come up with examples of companies that are gone now ... and with good reason, no doubt.

So, if caring about customers matters, then who do we think are the ones who care more right now and who are the ones who seem to care less than others? We can only tell you about our experience when we go to them about our clients' bad cars and trucks and how they react ... is it out of genuine concern for their customers or is it more out of a concern for their corporate pocketbook?

We have a list of manufacturers that our experience has taught us about. A list of car makers that we know we might as well file a lawsuit against rather than try to negotiate with, because it just seems to take a lawsuit to get their attention. We also have a list of manufacturers that we know we can probably get clients' problems take care of pretty quickly and fairly.

On our "bad guys" list you'll find Ford, Hyundai, Honda, and Suzuki. Hearing complaints about a Ford lemon, a lemon Hyundai, a Honda lemon, or a Suzuki lemon is not unusual at all for us.

The first two are on our "bad guys" list because of what we think are perceived and actual quality control problems as well as their displayed attitude about customers ... we think the last two are on the list, not because of general quality problems at all, but almost entirely because of customer attitude, real or perceived.

And who made our "good guys" list? GM and Chrysler. That's it. We hear complaints about a lemon GM and lemon Chrysler vehicles, sure, but they handle the problem much better in our experience.

What we have seen with GM is a long-term and consistent desire to solve a consumer's problems quickly and, usually, pretty fairly. Granted, they don't seem to be reckless with their money, but they do seem willing to try to keep their customers from becoming angry enough to file a Lemon Law lawsuit.

And Chrysler? Well, they made our "good guys" list, but just barely. Although they often seem to show real customer concern, they still seem to sometimes flip flop between trying to keep a customer happy and sometimes just not trying very hard at all.

Every manufacturer ought to know that sometimes defects occur. The question is how they deal with it. Some seem to just stick their corporate head in the sand and deny that there is anything that is ever built wrong by them. Period. They often blame it on the dealer, the owner, anything except their own quality level. Others seem to know and admit that a defect can happen, but they just seem to plain argue all day long about what they are going to do about it.

Notice that some brands didn't make either list. That's because our history with them is that they are not consistently "good" or "bad" but seem to fluctuate according to the particular factory rep or the circumstances of the particular vehicle we are dealing with. Also, there is one car maker that we think just hardly ever seems to build a bad car. They are the only brand we can think of that we have never filed a lawsuit against in modern times...but more about that on another day.

If you've got a lemon car or a lemon truck, email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Smashing lemons is what we do. Every day.

Friday

57,000 Lawyers. Only One Ohio Lemon Law Super Lawyer


Attorney Ronald L. Burdge was named to "Super Lawyer" status by a Joint Project of Law & Politics Magazine and the publishers of Cincinnati Magazine. Burdge is a Lemon Law attorney and founder of the Burdge Law Office in Centerville.

Only five percent of all licensed attorneys in Ohio are chosen to be "Super Lawyers" and Burdge is the only Lemon Law Super Lawyer.

"We asked attorneys to vote for the best lawyers they had personally observed in action," the Project announced. "Our attorney-led research staff reviewed the credentials of Ohio attorneys" and a Blue Ribbon panel reviewed all nominees and made the final selection.

Burdge has represented thousands of consumers in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana since 1978 and is a frequent lecturer to national, state and local Bar Associations and Judicial organizations.
His practice focuses on Motor Vehicle Lemon Law, Rv Lemon Law, defective products, and Consumer Protection Law.

"It is an extraordinary honor to be the only Lemon Law Super Lawyer in Ohio from over 57,000 attorneys," Burdge said.

The Dayton attorney is a frequent lecturer at Consumer Law and Lemon Law conferences and seminars nationwide and has taught Consumer Protection topics to attorneys and judges around the country.

Burdge graduated from Franklin High School, Ohio, in 1966 and attended Miami University from 1967 to 1969 before enlisting in the Air Force. Returning to Ohio in 1975, Burdge graduated from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1978 and began his career with James Ruppert'’s law office in Franklin before starting his own law firm devoted to Consumer Protection law a few years later. The Burdge Law Office is located in Dayton, Ohio, and handles motor vehicle Lemon Law cases for consumers in Ohio and Kentucky and IndianaPosted by Hello

If you've got a lemon car or lemon truck or lemon rv or lemon motorcycle or lemon boat, Burdge Law Office can help you get rid of it for free, and get your money back too. It's what we do. Email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free, and see for yourself.

Thursday

A Harley Can Hurt

Some motorcycle manufacturers understand that things can sometimes go wrong in the manufacturing process. Not so for Harley Davidson apparently.

We've got one case now where they have been nothing short of belligerant and abusive toward the consumer. Of all the bike makers out there, you'd think this would be one company that would care for US consumers more than any other. Makes you wonder if they even know there is a Motorcycle Lemon Law.

Frankly, we think some manufacturers think that if they bluster and bully anyone who complains, then most people will give up rather than argue and fight. The result? It looks like manufacturers think that can save themselves some money, and in the short run it might. But not taking better care of their customers will probably lose lots more money in the long run.

For now, though, Harley is one company that seems to think that if they "blow off" consumers who have lemon bikes, then most of them will give up. Of the one or two who hang in there and complain some more, the longer they fight for their rights the more likely it is they will be taken care of ... sooner or later. Harley just wants to make it as late as possible.

It's no wonder other specialty, high-end motorcycle manufacturers are taking away Harley's customer base. Loyalty and customer care go hand in hand. You'd think corporate America would know that.

The problem is that if a big corporation can figure out a way to save money today (forget about tomorrow), then you can bet they will be strongly tempted to do it. What is right or wrong doesn't seem to matter as much to them anymore.

This "right or wrong" business philosophy doesn't seem to have much to do with making some big company's decision-making anymore because the money-changers have taken over much of corporate America's boardrooms. That's a shame.

But it also shows that if you are the kind of consumer who doesn't give up, then the odds are you will get the justice you deserve. Sooner or later big business ought to learn that.

If you've got a lemon Harley Davidson motorcycle, or any other kind of lemon bike, email or call us 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Getting rid of lemon motorcycles is what we do. Everyday.