Thursday

Tata, Baby, Tata

Well, there goes Jaguar. And Land Rover. Bye bye, baby, bye bye. Or maybe Tata, baby, tata.

Tata Motors, from India, looks to be the high-bid winner in the "Jaguar and Land Rover sales auction" from Ford for a cool $2 Billion, according to reports from Britain's Birmingham Post newspaper.

Granted there might be a stack of paperwork to sign off but what the heck, Ford can probably use the money. Lord knows the way they argue over warranty claims with their customers you'd think things were really tight in Dearborn.

The sale process at Jaguar appears to have taken its toll on Jaguar car quality too, judging from complaints we're getting around here. So maybe the quality can get back to what Ford had it at several years ago.

No one knows what Tata will do but production of the long-standing English cars is not expected to move to any of Tata's plants in India, although they have at least four manufacturing facilities scattered across India.

If quality goes down, don't worry. We'll still be here ready to fight for your warranty rights. England, Dearborn or Delhi. It doesn't matter to us.

Burdge Law Office
www.NewCarLemonLaw.com
Helping Jaguar (and other) Car Owners
Get Rid of Lemon Cars and Lemon Trucks Since 1978.

Monday

The Price was Wrong on the Price is Right

So you think when you win a brand new car on a tv game show, you'd actually get a brand new car, huh? Well not according to Donna Tillman. What she says she actually got was a wrecked and repaired car.

Court papers filed in L.A. claim that she thought she won a new Pontiac GTO worth $33,495 and wasn't suspicious when delivery of the car took a little longer than usual because the car got "bounced around" from Australia to San Francisco to Pasadena before she got the keys in her hand to her shiny new car.

It was the first new car she had ever owned and the single mother of two was thrilled to win it on the big game show formerly hosted by her life long idol Bob Barker. But a year later the trouble started.


She noticed that when you got up to freeway speed the car "felt like it was windy outside" according to the New York Post newspaper. After a fender bender a year later she took it into the shop and mechanics told her that the car "had existing front end and structural frame damage" and had been repaired in a way to hide the damage. At that point, she was more than a little "bent out of shape" about her bent outta shape car, no doubt.

Worse yet she paid taxes based on the full value of the car and not the wrecked value of the car. Talk about irritating! No wonder she feels cheated. Meanwhile, the car dealer who delivered it to her is claiming Tillman damaged the vehicle herself.

Was your vehicle wrecked before you bought it? Every year thousands of vehicles are totalled out by insurance companies after accidents or a flood. A total loss usuallymeans the vehicle can not be repaired cost effectively up to mechanical or safety standards. Such vehicles are supposed to be junked and used for parts only but it doesn't always happen.

If someone sticks you with a wrecked car and you didn't know it when you bought it, you've got rights so don't put up with it. If they won't take care of it, email us or call for a free case conference, toll free 888.331.6422.

Helping consumers protect themselves is what we do every day. Suing car dealers and manufacturers for consumers is also what we do every day.

Thursday

GM & Chrysler Layoffs


The US auto industry continues to struggle to regain market share and customer confidence. The oh-so-apt editorial cartoon to the side is from Brian Fairrington, whose work is terrific.

The work force at GM's Dayton Delphi plant has dropped in half from its former high just years ago and now another 300+ are getting the pink slip just before Christmas. Talk about a Scrooge attitude and a lousy Christmas present... Then there's Chrysler. Chrysler at Christmas isn't any better either.

Chrysler LLC has announced that it is shutting down several assembly plants over the next few weeks, blaming it on sagging product demand. The Warren truck assembly plant in Warren, Michigan will close for more than a month to let dealers sell of product and Chrysler to move the metal. After workers go home on Friday, Dec. 21, they are not set to return until Feb. 4, 2008, UAW sources are saying.

The Warren Truck plant builds the Dodge Ram and Dakota pickup trucks, which have had their share of trouble. Recently the 07 Ram was hit with a recall over fuel tank straps that could result in fuel leaks.

The Detroit News reported Wednesday that Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly in Detroit and Windsor Assembly plants in Windsor, Ontario, will be closed for 2 or 3 weeks beginning Jan. 14.

Jefferson North builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander SUVs and Windsor is one of two Chrysler plants that build the newly redesigned Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.

So far Ford is keeping mum on cutbacks at Christmas ... a smart move we say.

For more hilarious, and sometimes very sadly so, editorial cartoons, check out Political Cartoons .com by clicking here.

Wednesday

What a Car Title Can Tell You

What you don't know can hurt you. It's true in life. It's true in car titles too.

Bob Eppes spent over 20 years working odometer fraud for the federal government in Kansas City. Recently he turned me on to a web site that says more about title branding and types than anything I've ever seen. No matter what state or US territory you are in, if you're going to buy a used car or truck, you need to know how to understand the codes and brands that can show up on the vehicle that you're about to pay thousands of dollars for --- before you plunk down your money!

What makes it tough is that each state (or US territory) has its own unique title "brand" and code process. That's where some sort of "brand," or often a 2 digit code, is put on the title that discloses something about the vehicle itself, but only if you know how to read it.

Sometimes there are only a few types of titles, like Puerto Rico where everything is either a clean title or a salvage title and nothing in between. Other places, like Pennyslvania, have dozens of different types of titles. Well, actually they've got over 150 there (talk about confusing).

These title types or brands can often disclose whether the vehicle is a rebuilt wrecked car, a flooded vehicle, a Lemon Law buyback, or an unrebuildable salvage junkyard car, among a lot of other things.

Sometimes the "brand" on the title is pretty clear, like with most Lemon Law buyback brands that warn the vehicle was bought back because the vehicle couldn't be fixed by the manufacturer in a reasonable time. In Ohio that would read "BUYBACK: THIS VEHICLE WAS RETURNED TO THE MANUFACTURER BECAUSE IT MAY NOT HAVE CONFORMED TO ITS WARRANTY" but the wording can be different in different states.

More often the title can have a small code notation on it, often just a couple of letters, that can provide important historical background info on the vehicle. Your local car dealer knows how to read the codes. Do you? Well, here's help.

For a list of the title brands and codes for you state, click here. This is a website set up by one of the larger auto auction yards so that everyone knows what the lingo is for cars they are selling there. The unspoken message is that even the auto auction yard knows the codes can be mysterious and confusing.

Don't get taken. Insist on looking at the actual title for any used motor vehicle you are thinking of buying --- before you hand over your hard-earned money. But if you got taken by a crooked car dealer (and our series last week on crooked car dealers showed you how they even steal from each other) call us, 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Or fax or email us right now. We can probably help you get your money back with no cost to you.

We go after car dealers (and manufacturers) every day. It’s what we do.

Burdge Law Office
www. Burdge Law .com
www. Car Sales Fraud .com
Helping Consumers Get Even Since 1978

Monday

National Rv Files Bankruptcy

If you own a National RV motorhome still covered by warranty, you've got trouble. The day after the "National Rv Trade Show" came to an end in Louisville, factory reps from all over the country packed their bags and headed home. Things were different for the California-based National RV company though.

The next day National RV filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in California and posted notice on its website that it would no longer be honoring any warranty claims.

The bankruptcy can end up costing a lot of customers a lot of money because National RV dealers are likely to stop doing warranty work for free for customers now that the company won't be paying them anymore to do the work. The warranty won't be worth the paper it's written on if that happens. You can read National RV's letter to its dealers by clicking here.

That dealers won't honor the company's warranty is not surprising since there's a lot of motorhome dealers listed on National RV's list of creditors that it owes money to. You can view the list of people who were given notice of the bankruptcy, and those are mostly creditors, by clicking here.

In the bankruptcy filings, Perris California based National RV said it had assets of just over $52 million and debt of over $30 million. That might leave you wondering why they filed bankruptcy at all, but it's not unusual for companies to file bankruptcy to shed (or trim down) debt that they can't get under control or may not have enough cash on hand to pay when the bills come due, among other reasons. On the other hand, 6 years of losing money may have been enough.

Reports are that the motorhome builder shut down its headquarters and main production facility and laid off all employees, according to the Press-Enterprise newspaper. It was also reported that National RV's shuttering last week followed a year of turmoil during which the company was forced to sell its most profitable line of RVs (Country Coach was sold in February 2007) plus its land and buildings in Perris California just to stay in business. Then it leased back the factory. That was followed by the bankruptcy filing and laying off all the workers.

Candidly,
David Humphreys, who has been chief executive since August, is reported to have said that the company had been trying to sell itself for sometime now, without success.

"But I think it's unlikely, and the RV market itself is quite flat," he said. "The good news is that we think, if we have to liquidate the company, which is likely, we will have enough money to pay off" their financial obligations.

If you're owed money then I suppose that might be good news. But if you're driving a National RV motorhome, none of this is good news. You can monitor the Bankruptcy Court filings in the National RV case by clicking here.

You may not be totally out of luck though if your sales paperwork gives you any rights against the rv dealer where you bought your motorhome, and if you have an extended warranty (sometimes called a service contract), then you may still be protected to some degree.

If you've got a lemon motorhome, don't wait until it's too late to do anything about it. Act fast and let us help you get rid of it.

Burdge Law Office
www. Rv Lemon Law .com
Helping Rv'ers Get Rid of Lemons Since 1978


Convicts at Car Dealers, Part 5


If a car dealer's employee is willing to steal from the company, what makes you think they won't steal from you, too? Well, when we started this 5 part series we had just 5 reports of car dealer employees who were reported to have stolen from their car dealer employer.

Problem is, even more thieving reports popped up. Okay, we'll keep this series to just 5 stories for now and add more later. But this one is a biggie: $1.2 million. And the boss himself is the thief.

"Floor planning" is when GMAC (or some other lender) finances the cars that are sitting on the dealer's lot for sale. The dealer buys the new cars and trucks from the manufacturer, say GM. The factory's financing department (like GMAC) loans the money to the dealer to pay for the shipment of new cars. Paperwork is signed and GM sort of moves the money from the left pocket to the right pocket and ships the new cars and clear titles to the dealer, who promises to pay GMAC a chunk of money each time it sells one of the new cars.

To keep the dealer honest, GMAC often sends out someone to count the cars on the lot and make sure the dealer is not holding back any money for cars that have already been sold. As long as the dealer is honest, or GMAC keeps a close watch on the dealer, everything works out fine. Of course, we are talking about car dealers here. So honesty may be all a matter of interpretation.

But in Illinois things are different it seems.

A former Illinois GM dealer engaged in a multiyear fraud and skimmed $1.2 million according to the Peoria Journal Star newspaper. Todd Black agreed to a plea bargain that will put him in the federal pen for 41 months and leave a $1.2 million court ordered restitution debt hanging over his head for years to come.

Black owned 3 GM dealerships that used GMAC to finance his new car purchases from GM. When GMAC came knocking to count cars they discovered they weren't there because Black had sold them without sending any money to GMAC. They weren't happy.

Additionally, Black also got titles to "ghost" cars that he claimed were in his possession when they really weren't. As a result, GMAC sent him more money. When things got tight, Black would then use the proceeds from recent sales to repay GMAC for older car loans, adapting the "Ponzi" scheme where a person uses money from one sale to pay off another person. Authorities claimed Black used the money to buy houses and a condo.

Black's employees apparently also lied to GMAC auditors trying to cover up the fraud, but GMAC eventually wised up.

So, if employees will steal from the owner of the dealership, what makes you think they won't steal from you too? And if the boss in charge of the place is orchestrating the whole scam, ripping off the factory itself, what makes you think he gives a darn about how bad you get ripped off by his sales staff?

Like everything else, you have to be careful and watch out for the thievin’ on the retail end — that’s your end and it can cost you money!

If you’re the victim of car dealer fraud, call us right now,
1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. We go after car dealers (and manufacturers) every day. It’s what we do.

Burdge Law Office www. Car Sales Fraud .com Helping Consumers Get Their Money Back Since 1978

Thursday

Convicts at Car Dealers, Part 4

If a car dealer's employee is willing to steal from the company, what makes you think they won't steal from you, too?

Question: how many Mercedes do you have to sell so the boss doesn't notice when you steal a million dollars? A lot.


In a new twist on skimming money from the till, the supervisor of temporary employees at Mercedes-Benz of Laguna Niguel, a southern California Mercedes-Benz dealership worked out a deal with temporary employees to split their pay with him --- in exchange for them not having to work at all! In just a couple of years he managed to pocket over a million dollars, and still collect a paycheck too.


According to a press release from the feds, David Delgado was the temp worker's supervisor for 7 years at the dealership and in charge of monitoring and approving the hours worked by all dealership temporary employees. One day back in 2004 one of them offered to give him half his paycheck if Delgado would leave the temporary employee on the payroll but not make him show up for work. It was a deal too good to resist apparently.

Over the next few years Delgado started making the offer to the temp workers, offering to approve phony time entries for temp workers and keep them on the payroll even though they weren't really working for the Mercedes dealership any longer. The more temp workers agreed, the more money Delgado pocketed. Then it occured to him. Why do I need to split it with temp workers at all? Why not just make it all up? So he did.


While he hired temporary employees from two agencies he also started creating completely fictitious temporary employees, turning in hundreds of hours of payroll time for people who either weren't there or didn't exist. It didn't take long to make some really big money. That is until the whole thing started to smell fishy.

Eventually the FBI came knocking and Delgado ended up copping a plea to two wire fraud charges in a deal with federal prosecutors that kept his jail time down to 18 months in the slammer and a court order to pay money back to the car dealership --- $1,053,970 of it.


You gotta wonder. Just how much money was that place rollin in the door? How much profit does it take to keep the boss from missing a million dollars or so? And just where was the boss anyway? Out to lunch? A very long lunch? Maybe a lunch out of the country? Cayman Islands, at the bank?


I guess there's just so much money floating around at car dealerships (especially Mercedes dealers?) that the employees just can't help themselves.

Like I said, if an employee will steal from the car dealer they work for, what makes you think they'll think twice about getting into your wallet or purse without you knowing it?
Like everything else, you have to be careful and watch out for the thievin’ on the retail end — that’s your end and it can cost you money!

If you’re the victim of car dealer fraud, call us right now,
1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. We go after car dealers (and manufacturers) every day. It’s what we do.

Tuesday

Convicts at Car Dealers, Part 3


"Cheezit, guys, here come the cops!" It's not just a line from an old movie. It's probably what they said at an upstate New York Chevy dealer recently when the police showed up with search warrants. Not a good way to start the day.

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

A lot of car dealerships have a job they call Special Finance Manager. That's the person who sets up the financing for risky-credit customers. People with credit problems. In the mortgage broker business it's called subprime (and we all know what is happening in the mortgage market because of it --- it's a big part of the reason you see all those boarded up and empty houses around your town).

Subprime, special finance, is one of the most lucrative money-making games car dealers play. Huge amounts of profit can be very tempting for crooked car dealer employees too, as Whalen Chevrolet Oldsmobile found out when the dealer's special finance manager was arrested and charged with nine felonies related to his risky business.

Seems he was getting really creative with his creative financing, making fake documents that looked like tax returns, social security benefit letters, W-2 forms, and pay stubs. Then he'd use the fake documents to get financing approval for prospective car buyers and the customers didn't know what he was doing, according to a report in the Glens Falls Post-Star newspaper. It's not just a New York problem either. It's a game we've heard of before in Ohio and elsewhere, too.

Police are saying the employee submitted fake documents to finance companies like Capital One to get car buyers approved for credit they couldn't really get. The house of car[d]s was going just fine until the repo's started, apparently. At that point Capital One probably started wondering what was going on.

Then the cops raided the car dealership and seized car sales files for the last year to see if there were other fraudulent loans the guy created. According to the newspaper, the Police say the F & I sales manager involved also worked at a number of car dealerships in the Albany (NY) area over the years, and "told police that he learned the scheme at another dealership that he did not identify to investigators." Well, now, that makes sense. It also makes you wonder who the car dealer is that apparently is still doing it!

Amazingly, police suspect the finance manager of using the same scam while working at Nemer VW, an upstate New York Volkswagen car dealership, last year too. Not surprisingly, the owner of the Chevy dealership said he was unaware of the fraud and that he learned of his employee's past criminal history from the police.

"Obviously we would not condone anything like this," Whalen [the owner of the car dealership] said of the scheme, according to the newspaper. "It's unfortunate for everybody involved." Yeah, there goes this year's bonus Fiji vacation plan ...

It is amazing how many felons, crooks, criminals and thieves work in the car business. Why do you suppose that is? I suspect it's because they are always looking for the money-making angle to play and no one knows it better than a crook.

Sure there are some honest car dealers out there but some of them aren't. Like everything else, you have to be careful and watch out for the thievin’ on the retail end — that’s your end and it can cost you money!

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

Monday

Convicts at Car Dealers, Part 2


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

Arnold Pontiac GMC had been in business since 1916 and Joyce Piasente had worked there for 27 years but she stole nearly half a million dollars from them anyway ($439,806 to be precise about it). Being a long-term employee apparently doesn't mean anything more than being a green pea at Bennington Subaru either, at least not when it comes to the old car dealer adage, lie-cheat-n-steal.

And she might have kept right on getting away with it too, at least until one day when someone from GMAC showed up at the dealership to pick up a check to cover "rejected" funds. One thing led to another and after the dealership hired an accountant to figure it all out, the owner found nearly half a million was missing, reports the Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter newspaper.

When confronted, she admitted taking the money and said it was needed to fund her children's debts and to finance her gambling addiction. How much went for one and how much went for the other didn't seem to matter much to the owner of the car dealership because it's all gone now.

The car dealer employee, make that ex-employee, was sentenced to 18 to 36 months in the slammer.

You have to wonder though, just how much money was that person raking in that the owner didn't even notice a missing half million? And how much of it was honest income and how much of it was just another way of ripping someone off? Maybe none of it? Maybe all of it? We don't know.

One thing we do know, however, is that if a car dealer doesn't care enough to spot a thief in action, or is just so sloppy that they miss it (assuming they are watching out for you) then it shouldn’t surprise you when you realize they stole money from you in your deal too. After all, who is better to steal from customers than a thief?

How might they do it? Packing a deal with window etching when you don't realize how worthless it is. Charging for credit life and disability insurance when you didn't know it was in the deal. Adding Gap insurance to your costs. It used to be undercoating and fabric protection, before car dealers figured out how to really get in your wallet or purse. Watch out for the thievin’ on the retail end — that’s your end and it can cost you money!

If you’re the victim of car dealer 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 Get Their Money Back Since 1978

To read Part 1 of Convicts at Car Dealers, click here.