Convicts at Car Dealers, Part 1

If the car dealer’s employee is willing to steal from the company that pays him, what makes you think they won’t steal from you too?

Today we start a 5 part series of true stories of car dealers and their employees. Employees who were caught stealing from the dealership in one way or another. From a salesman in Vermont to a million dollar thief in Southern California and a lot of stops in between. But first, Vermont...

In the car sales business a new salesperson is called a green pea but, as Bennington Subaru found out, some green peas are rotten. Bennington Subaru hired a young salesman named Benjamin Hammic. He didn’t know much about selling cars but he was energetic and wanted to learn.

If they had checked him out carefully, the general manager might have found out that he was on the lam from a New York court and under sentence from a Connecticut court. Hammic was a two time loser looking for chance number 3. And he found it at Bennington Subaru, where they apparently don't ask a lot of questions before hiring a salesman (or maybe they do).

On his second day at the dealership he was studying Subaru model information when he took a break and walked off the job. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. It’s more like he drove off. In a nice brand new car. After awhile management must have started thinking it was a pretty long break because Hammic never came back.

A week later the stolen car was recovered while being driven by three kids in Massachusetts. As for Hammic, he called in from Connecticut and said he had just borrowed the car and someone had stolen it from him. Yeah, right.

You have to wonder how a guy with a warrant and a conviction could end up getting hired in the first place. Well, maybe the manager thought he just had “the right stuff.” They probably figured he’d steal alright, just from customers when they came to buy a car and not from the dealership itself.

If a car dealer is willing to hire convicts, crooks and thieves, it shouldn’t surprise you when you realize they stole your trade in on the paperwork, ripped you off on the Gap insurance cost, or packed your deal with window etching that you didn’t know you were getting either. After all, who is better to steal from customers than a thief? Only thing here is the thief stole from the car dealer first. Usually they pay them good enough to keep the thievin’ on the retail end — that’s your end and it can cost you money, so watch out!

If you’re the victim of a car dealer’s fraud, call us. We go after car dealers (and manufacturers) every day. It’s what we do.

Burdge Law Office
www. Car Sales Fraud .com
Helping Consumers Fight Back Since 1978


Best Vehicle Resale Value Cars

For 2008 the five car brands with the best overall predicted resale values are Volkswagen, BMW, Acura, Honda and Porsche. Not a US label in the bunch.

And what is ranked 5 to 10? It's Subaru, Lexus, Infiniti, Audi and Toyota. Again, not a US label in the list.

And it gets worse if you break it down by model instead of just the brand, because VW alone takes 3 of the top 10 spots, according to Kelley Blue Book predictions.

What's wrong with this picture, folks?

Detroit hurts in this kind of comparison because they go after market share and that ends up meaning building more than the market can absorb and that hurts resale value. Worse yet, the Big 3 throw incentives and rebates out there like it's going out of style, sell millions to the rental car companies to bolster sales figures, and then wonder how come the resale value just isn't there a year or two down the road. Well, no kidding folks.

If you flood the market with thousands and thousands of Taurus vehicles, the value of a Taurus just isn't going to hold up. On the other hand, if you build quality and build a limited supply of your model, then the prices tend to hold up better and longer. Detroit seems to be plagued with the "instant gratification" mindset of the "give it to me now" generation.

Meanwhile, VW has steadily moved up in the resale rankings because they put style and quality and fuel efficiency into a limited supply of models. And those are all factors that drive value up and resale prices hold steady because of it.

So, the moral? If you don't hold onto your car for long, then get one of these cars that hold their value longer so you can get more out of it when you sell it in 2 or 3 years.

Of course, all of that depends on if you get a lemon, which can rip the floor out of any car's resale value. If that happens to you, call us. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons Since 1978


What Color is Your Lemon ?

What does your car say about you? Do you drive a Firebird? A Corvette? A Prius? Or a Malibu? Is your car black? Red? Silver? White? Purple?

According to researchers, it all means something. Whether it means something for you may be debatable.

Researchers in Tennessee from "The Right Brain People" have been studying the psychology of cars and colors. Supposedly the right side of the brain is in control of emotion and creativity and that is the part that influences what we buy when we go t0 a car dealership. The psychologists in Tennessee try to help car dealers understand the emotional factors that drive consumer decisions. In other words, they predict what you are going to buy and what color you want it to be. Results are curious but interesting.

They say that minivan buyers are “nurturing” and escape-minded people. Sport-utility vehicle buyers are looking for adventure. The people who plunk down big dollars to buy a Hummer or another large SUV are looking for power and control and have a "warrior mentality". Don't get in their way. Especially if they are armed.

People who buy a hybrid have character and are trying to show that they are "doing the right thing". Compact cars go to people who are low in rationality and character, according to the psychologists in Tennessee. On the other hand, maybe they are just looking to spend a lot less money for basic transportation?

Got a convertible? They say that means you want freedom and independence to be your motto. Got a sports car? Okay, then you are looking for “youthful exuberance and rejuvenation” (whatever that really means).

If you are driving a four-door sedan, then you are practical. That one is pretty obvious.

On the other hand, if you are driving a big truck that means you are looking for power and control (but since you don't carry a gun or a spear or sword, you must not own a Hummer yet, I guess).

Then we get to the Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, both of which stand for power and status, along with the BMW. The slight difference is that Lexus goes to the younger mind set while Mercedes is big on "power attitude" and BMW is looking for a sporty "control" in life.

Got a Corvette? The psychologists say only one word in response: immortality. Apparently you think you will live longer than your car? Yeah, maybe... just maybe (but I wouldn’t bet on it).

Meantime, what do all the colors mean? Well, that have answers for that too.

Silver: elegant and cool.

White: fastidious.

"Gimme a ticket" Red? Sexy, speedy, high energy and dynamic (and a glove box full of tickets from the highway patrol).

Deep red? Some of the same qualities as red, but a little less obvious about it. Translation? Not as many tickets in the glove box.

Light brown: timeless, basic and simple tastes.

Black: not easily manipulated, loves elegance, and appreciates a classic. Still, don't expect to find Frank Sinatra in the CD player.

Gray: sober, corporate, practical, pragmatic. The only word missing is boring.

Dark green: traditional, trustworthy, well-balanced. Think Jimmy Carter in a nice wool suit.

Bright green and yellow: trendy, fun, lively. Also screaming to be seen.

Dark brown: down to earth, no nonsense.

Orange: fun-loving, talkative, fickle and trendy. Likes pierced body parts (just kidding).

Deep purple: creative and individualistic. Has extensive Jimi Hendrix CD collection.

Some of the predictions might be true, and some of them might be a mile off. Still, keep in mind that this is what the "experts" are telling car dealers. So when you go to buy a specific type of vehicle or a specific color of vehicle, the car dealer’s salespeople may have an attitude and expectation about you as a buyer as a result.

No matter what color your lemon is, we can help you get rid of it. After all, that's what we do. And we make no judgments about you in the process!


Grinch Strikes Auto Industry

Detroit has its "big 3" auto investors and all of them are predicting a sales slump next year. Looks like the Grinch has struck the auto industry!

One of the predictors is Jerry York, an advisor to billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian. Another is financier Wilbur Ross. Then there's Thomas Stallkamp, a former president of Chrysler. All are negative on next year's auto industry outlook, with predictions of a 10% sales reduction.

Detroit went through a similar sales slump back in 1991 when sales fell 11% and the economy was slumping in general. Same thing back around 1982-3. Maybe this is just a ten year thing and the middle Eastern war delayed it a few extra years?

Then again maybe the housing market mess and the current sluggish economy is dampening consumer spirits, causing more caution when it comes to spending.

Whatever it is, the predictions are that Detroit will deal with it by cutting production instead of juicing up the rebate machine. So don't count on seeing zero rate loans and generous rebates or big price discounts next year.

If your car or truck is running right, get it serviced often and keep driving on down the road (right past those shiny, expensive hunks of iron on the front row of the dealer's lot down the street). If you've got a lemon car or a lemon truck or a lemon motorhome though, now is the time to do something about it. As the economy tightens up in the coming year, so will the factory's willingness to help out consumers who bought bad products and are now stuck.

If you've got a lemon, call us. Getting rid of them is what we do. Everyday.


Ford Crown Victoria Tarnished and Gone

Once upon a time, it was the flagship of the Ford lineup, the Crown Victoria. Police departments just plain loved it because it was just plain big. Drop a big engine in it, bolt some lights on top, and that car could haul!

But you won't find one in a Ford dealer's showroom anymore. Well, if you look really hard, and really fast, you might find one of the less-than-80 2007 Crown Vic cars across the country that are still on a dealer's left over lot, but you won't find any 2008 models.

That's because they are all going to fleet customers like business and governments, particularly police departments. Seems the Ford 500 and the Taurus interiors got bigger along the way and that ate into the Vic's marketshare, to say nothing for non-Ford nameplate competition from the Dodge Charger police car version and others.

At the end, fleet deals made up 95% of the Crown Victoria sales, almost entirely to either police departments or taxi cab fleets. But the model line had its share of troubles along the way too.

Fire dangers under the dash in 2003, 2004 and 2005 models hurt the image. Gas tank explosion claims made by police departments created huge ill will problems for Ford, to the point that Ford reportedly warned them that it would just stop selling the police model if they got any more lawsuits.

Still, in its best day the Crown Vic was still something of a lemon and now its day has gone. A lot of former owners are probably just murmering "good riddance."

If you've got a Ford lemon, we can help. Lemon Motor Vehicle Law cases is what we've been doing for 30 years. It's the reason Ford doesn't like us. We're kinda proud of that.

Who Do You Trust?

A new poll out from the Better Business Bureau and Gallup Polling finds that most people still don't trust car dealers. For good reason, we find.

New to the top of the "don't trust 'em" list are furniture stores, cell phone providers, and real estate brokers too, closely followed by banks, grocery stores, pharmacies, stock brokers and home improvement stores.

And almost 20% of the people polled said that they trusted businesses less this year than last year. Well, maybe the chickens have finally come home to roost. Then again, maybe they never left?

The poll results here aren't much different than the Harris Poll results in 2006 when people ranked stockbrokers and realtors at the bottom of the list there too, but that was without car dealers even being included in the rankings at all. The closest category included was mechanics, who came in only slightly above realtors.

And being in Canada doesn't make much difference in the poll results either, according to Leger marketing, who completed a poll in May 2007. There, they found levels of trust declining too and, of course, used car salespeople were at the bottom of the "trust list" for Canada (apparently things are worse up north?). Just slightly higher than used car salespeople were politicians (a feeling we're familiar with in the US too) and only two notches above that were new car salespeople (so you'd rather trust a new car salesperson than a used car salesperson? I don't think so...).

In the recent BBB-Gallup survey, Americans considered honesty, fairness, dependable, reliable, good value for the money and good prices to all be key factors in trusting the businesses they deal with every day in every aspect of their lives. Okay, so much for car dealers ...

If you've been lied to by a car dealer or another merchant or if you're a victim of fraud, we can help. We've been helping consumers get back their hard-earned money from crooked businesses for almost 30 years.


National Law Journal Quotes Burdge on Rv Lemon Law

This week's National Law Journal has an article in it headlined "Motor Home Makers Hit with Warranty Actions" and quotes Rv Lemon Law lawyer Ron Burdge.

The article discusses the rising tide of warranty litigation with motorhome manufacturers under the federal lemon law (the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act) as well as state lemon laws and other state consumer protection laws like Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act.

It's kind of surprising to see the article talking about other attorneys recently becoming aware of the federal lemon law --- it's a law we've been using for 29 years against defective vehicle manufacturers who build bad Rv's and then fail to fix them properly under warranty later on.

"R.V. manufactures are 'digging their heels in' and settling late in the litigation, but the number of cases is increasing because consumers are intolerant of defects in such an expensive product, said plaintiffs' lawyer Ron Burdge of the Burdge Law Office in Dayton, Ohio. Burdge handles motor home cases in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

"The difference between a Kia and a $1 million R.V. is how much they fight," Burdge said. "You spend much more time winning an R.V. case than you do winning a four-door car case."

Your legal rights matter when you pay big money for an Rv and can't get the manufacturer or the dealer to live up to their warranty. If it happens to you, we can help. It's what we do. You can read more about your state's Rv Lemon Law by clicking here.


Recall Roundup

The new Chrysler is still busy cleaning up the old Chrysler's problems it seems.

Federal safety investigators have announced that Chrysler is recalling nearly 300,000 SUV vehicles because of brake problems. The recall involves the 2006 and 2007 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander models, the 2007 Jeep Wrangler and the 2007 Dodge Nitro. When the vehicles coast uphill there's a delay in braking.

Meanwhile the 2008 Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring convertibles are on the list for over 72,000 to be recalled because of problems with front door latches and locks that won't open.

Not to be outdone, the Japanese Big 3 are recalling their own too.

For model year 2006 and 2007 vehicles, Honda is recalling more than 180,000 Civics to fix a wheel bearing seal that can lead to the wheel falling off the car (folks, that's pretty serious stuff).

But Nissan tops the record this month with 420,000 SUV's being recalled. Included models are the 1997 - 2001 model years for the Pathfinder and Infiniti QX4 sport utility vehicles. corrosion can occur in the tube where the gas is pumped in. That can result in a fuel leak and fire danger. But this is one of those regional recalls we talked about before, where the recall is limited to only certain states. Here it's Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin --- basically the bad weather "winter" states. I guess the moral of that story is don't drive North if you've got a Pathfinder or QX4?

Toyota is recalling 55,000 optional all-weather floor mats that were installed in the Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry cars because the mats can interfere with the pedals and cause a loss of control problem sometimes referred to as a runaway accellerator. Well, at least it's just floor mats.

If you've got a recalled lemon, or one that should be, call us instead. We know what to do because we've been doing it for nearly 30 years.


Chrysler Drops Magnum, PT Droptop, Pacifica & Crossfire Models

A week ago we predicted Chrysler would drop some of its models that overlapped each other's target buyers and introduce some new ones. Well, Cerberus, the new owners of Chrysler, announced the elimination of four models from the Chrysler lineup, but they didn't touch the duplication target at all.

The Chrysler Sebring and the Dodge Avenger? "Oh, let's just keep them both."

The Jeep Commander vs the Grand Cherokee? "Gosh, they both look pretty."

The Chrysler Aspen or the Dodge Durango? "The Aspen hasn't been around long enough yet and the Durango is such a good money-loser for us we don't want to give it up yet."

Soon to be gone, though, are the Dodge Magnum (Dodge's macho), the cheap-to-build-and-easy-to-sell Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible, the Celine Dione promoted Pacifica and the cool looking Crossfire. What are they thinking up there in the Detroit tower?

Given the 50,000+ 2007 Magnums that were recalled because the ABS brake control module software could lock up the rear brakes at times, that one probably shouldn't be a big surprise. And the 2006 Pacifica and PT Cruiser were both subject to recalls too. But we thought the bugs had been worked out of all these model lines by now.

Figures. Just when they start building them right, they decide to stop building them at all.

Also soon to be gone are 8,500 to 10,000 hourly jobs by the end of 2008, in an expense cutting move, along with 1,000 salary workers and a projected 37% of its outside contract workers. Looks like Cerberus Management is very serious about cutting costs, indeed.

In a move to jazz up its model line, Dodge is adding a Challenger coupe and the Dodge Journey "crossover" model. On top of that are new plans to build two new hybrid Suv's, the Chrysler Aspen and the Dodge Durango. With all that body weight, it's hard to imagine the Durango as a hybrid, frankly, but it's an admirably target. The two new hybrids will make the Chrysler brand a little "greener" while the Challenger ought to make the Dodge brand a little sexier too.

All in all, a smart move for Cerberus. If they build the new models right, too, then all the better. But if not, then call us. When your Durango dodges reliability, when you want to shove that Aspen up Chrysler's tailpipe, when the Journey won't let you journey, and when the Challenger challanges your patience, contact us. If you've got a lemon, we'll get rid of it.

The Paradox of Our Time

I can not take credit for the monologue that follows and which was sent to me by my cousin in Florida. And although it has been widely Erumored as coming from George Carlin, it isn't according to Also, it isn't from a surviving Columbine student either. It was actually written by a former pastor in Redmond, Washington, according to Truth or Still, and even though it was first penned in 1990, it fits our time, right here, right now too.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much , and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life but not life to our years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but read less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this e-letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember to say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment, for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts
in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Sappy, schmaltzy? Sure. But it still makes you think.


When Cars Were Cool and VW's Were Too

How long has it been, I asked myself. 30 years? 40 years? looks brand new.

The VW Camper van was a product of innovation within the bombed out walls of a VW plant after World War 2 when they started using partially built VW's to make parts deliveries around the VW plant and someone realized that you could take one of them and put a camper shell on top and sell them as campers for the common consumer. They were right of course.

By 1963 Americans had bought 150,000 of them. The other day I saw one of them and it looked beatiful. Totally restored inside and out and all around. Original paint. Original hubcaps. Original radio. Just incredible to look at. It was parked in the grocery store parking lot where I stopped for coffee on the way into work last Saturday morning.

Of course, I wasn't the only guy staring at it, but I was the only to take out his camera and snap a picture of it. The others? Well, they had their camera phones too, I'm sure, but they just couldn't stop salivating long enough to take a photo.

What I really wanted though was a phone number and price but, of course, the owner of this classic isn't selling it anytime soon. After all, it comes from an age when cars were simpler and also built better. That was good, too, because there were no lemon laws back then either.

Nowadays, though, that's not the case. If you've got a lemon, VW or any other kind, call us, toll free, at 888.331.6422, or email us. We know how to make them take it back and give you back your money and we do it for free, no cost to you. That way you can go out and buy one of these.