Actress Julia Roberts (and Meryl Streep too), a Toyota Prius. Price? Just under $23k
Supermodel Tyra Banks, Lexis SC, at $65k
Singer Bono, Maserati Quattroporte
Actor Kevin Costner (and Bill Murray and Mel Gibson and Jack Nicholson), Land Rovers all around
Singer Rihanna, Chevrolet Suburban
Heiress and Tv Personality Paris Hilton, Bentley Continental GT at $171k
Singer Britney Spears, Mercedes SLR McLaren at $452k
Singer Madonna (and Donald Trump), a Maybach 57 at $335k
Actress Charlize Theron, Land Rover Range Rover at just under $75k
Basketball legend Shaquille O'Neill, Rolls Royce Phantom at $328k
Actor Tom Cruise, Porsche 911 at $71k
Actress Lindsey Lohan, Mercedes SL65 AMG at $185
Musician 50 Cent, Dodge Charger at $23k
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (and Cameron Diaz too), Toyota Prius at just under $23k
But we haven't been able to find out what kind of car Oral Roberts drove.
Notably, we can say that while we have had lemon Bentley, Mercedes, Land Rover, Dodge, Toyota and other lemon cars, we haven't had any of the above clients. Oh, we've had a couple of judges, an artist, a sheriff, some lawyers, a brain surgeon (it wasn't McDreamy), doctors and lots of others like that, but most of our clients are just ordinary people with ordinary cars that went bad or ordinary people who were ripped off.
Helping people is what we do. Since 1978.
Too many policitians vote by party label first and people's needs second. That shows up early in the process too. Such as when they sign on as a sponsor of a bill or amendment. That sponsoring is important because it signals to other members of congress where they stand on an issue.
Maybe that's why Rep. Turner, a republican from Centerville, Ohio, signed on as the only republican as a sponsor of an amendment to help bankruptcy homeowners keep a roof over their heads.
Maybe he did it because he realized the much-ballyhooed government home loan program earlier this year (you know, the one that was supposed to help millions of homeowners modify their mortgages to keep their homes in hard times) had pretty much failed to accomplish anything at all. A good idea, badly implemented, which created lost of paperwork and frustration but accomplished no good. Only about 4% of homeowners whose homes were reworked thru the program have managed to get a permanent modification to save their home from foreclosure, reports USA Today writer Stephanie Armour.
Maybe he heard the defensive clamoring of near countless mortgage companies that said they were still "working on it" while hundreds of thousands of modifications remain tied up with their red tape. Why? Well, after all, lowering interest rates and reducing payments is not going to put any extra money in those mortgage company pockets. And, bottom line, that's what bankers are all about.
George Bailey may have been running his savings & loan to help folks out, but that's just a seasonal movie to be found on television once a year. George Bailey doesn't live on Wall Street.
Maybe Mike Turner did it because he's from one of the hard hit states that have suffered the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs, foreshadowing the foreclosure crisis that always follows on the heels of pink slips being passed out.
Whatever the reason, we say "Good for Mike." He appears to be the first republican to wake up and realize that the ultimate power to modify a mortgage is not to be found in a mortgage company's boardroom. It's to be found in the power of a federal bankruptcy judge.
No one has seen more foreclosures, or the impact they cause, than the judges who sit on the nation's bankruptcy courts every day.
On December 11 Rep. Mike Turner signed on as a sponsor of an amendment to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 that would give federal bankruptcy judges the power to modify mortgage terms on primary residences when the homeowner is in bankruptcy. In doing so, Turner acknowledged reality and, at the same time, necessity.
In the Dayton, Ohio area, Turner noted, it is estimated that some 10,000 housing "units" (let's just call them homes, or at least they used to be) have been abandoned because of the mortgage crisis (let's just call that a mortgage mess, which is what it is).
Ironically, bankruptcy judges already have the power to modify mortgage terms for people's vacation homes (that tells you something about who wrote that law, for sure). This new amendment would give them that power for primary residence homes. It's about time.
Meanwhile, the money-grubbing American Bankers Association came out against the amendment, shouting from the roof tops that the amendment will "impose unforeseeable costs on lenders." Gosh, folks, I just feel so very, very bad for them bankers.
Not surprisingly, another Ohio congressman, Rep John Boehner (looking remarkably well-tanned for someone from wintry cold-weathered Ohio), opposed the amendment. Clearly, while he knows where the tanning parlor is, Boehner's home is not in foreclosure. He just doesn't get it.
Helping banks and mortgage companies will not stop foreclosures. Creating government programs that they don't have to do anything about is not exactly going to keep roofs over the heads of the jobless victims of this economy.
Judges are notoriously conservative and almost always neutral. What's wrong with giving them the power to make a mortgage company accept a little less profit in order to keep another home from being abandoned, boarded up or not?
Abandoned homes are a major cause of crime increases, blight, and reduced home values for everyone. If you doubt that, then just call up the Detroit police chief and ask him.
Rep. Mike Turner has spoken his conscience. That's because he understands what he sees in his hometown.
Every year, Car & Driver magazine announces its 10 best cars of the new model year and the list is out and once again US car companies only managed to get 2 cars onto the list, the Cadillac CTS and the Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Making the list for 2010: Audi S4, BMW 3 series and M3, Cadillac CTS - CTS-V, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord, Honda Fit, Mazda MX 5 - Miata, Mazda 3 - Mazdaspeed 3, Porsche Boxster - Cayman, VW GTI.
18 Car & Driver editors rated vehicles on a scale of 1 to 100, with a focus on performance, driving satisfaction and value. The only requirement was that the vehicles be available in the US in January 2009 and priced below $80,000.
We can't fault the selection, when viewed against our lemon car cases either. While the Cadillac line has had its lemons, the CTS is not one we've run across. Same for the rest of the roster, except for the Honda Accord, which has seen its share of lemons in our files. But the rest of the list we heartily agree with.
If you are looking at buying a new car and don't want to end up with a lemon, the Car and Driver Ten Best Cars list is a good place to start. Just watch out for that Accord.
And why not? After all, it was a Chinese company that bought the Bummer. Sorry, I meant to say Hummer.
At this rate, GM will be left building parts for the Chinese companies that it has sold its business to. Meanwhile, China automakers reported their November sales doubled.
And Opel, General Motors' "other" soon-to-be orphaned company, now says it wants to give GM nearly half a billion dollars in annual wage concessions to stay alive.
Folks, GM's struggle to survive is a long way from over with.
Early stages of the federal safety investigation on the model’s rust problems apparently convinced the officials at NHTSA that they didn’t know enough to determine how bad the problem is, but Automotive News reports that safety investigators on focusing on one specific part of the frame, where the cross member supports the spare time and not the entire frame. Of course, that could change when more data is turned over by Toyota.
The cross member is the focal point at the moment because of at least 20 reports by consumers and police that spare times were falling off and brake systems were failing due to severe frame corrosion (rust) on the frames. In less than two months after opening an investigation, federal investigators received more than 70 complaints.
Other Tacoma trucks using the same supplier’s 750,000 frames that resulted in massive voluntary recalls and buybacks in 2008-09.
If you’ve got a rusty lemon Toyota Tundra, or a lemon Tacoma, don’t take a chance. Get a Burdge attorney. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.
Burdge Law Office
Because life’s too short to drive a rusty lemon pickup truck.
Not only is the rebuilding still going on, but the financial loss to the taxpayers still isn’t over with either.
From Lumberton, Mississippi, comes news that the federal government is continuing its auctions of travel trailers left over after Hurricane Katrina.
The US General Services Administration is the agency charged with responsibility to sell them all off and they have put up a single lot of 465 trailers at Lumberton, Miss., for the highest bidder to take all in one bundle. So far the high bid is $430.32 each. No one is saying how much the feds paid when they bought those trailers, but odds are it was a whole lot more than that.
You can watch the bidding here: http://gsaauctions.gov/gsaauctions/aucindx/, where lots of other trailers are being auctioned off too.
These trailers were used as temporary housing in the aftermath of Katrina, which roared through South Mississippi in August 2005 and are reported to be part of the "formaldehyde problem" as some have called it. We talked about this before (click here).
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials had estimated that about 30,000 trailers remained at five Mississippi "staging" areas where government officials hope to sell them off to the highest bidder. And these aren’t the only FEMA formaldehyde trailers still unsold.
Weekly auctions started in late September and, two months later, the GSA had only been able to sell 2,316 trailers. Millions of taxpayer dollars went down the Katrina drain five years ago and it’s still happening.
The long term health hazards of formaldehyde are notorious, including higher cancer risks. there's a good blog about it here: http://injurylaw.reganfirm.com/2008/02/articles/consumer-safety/fema-trailers-formaldehyde-dangers/.
Meanwhile, be careful. That new smell in your new Rv might not be what you think.
At least that's the result of a recent study by McKinsey Quarterly that was just released. And it makes sense.
All consumers still want good value for their money, regardless of their "green" viewpoint. Fact is, if there was a car that fit your needs and was cheaper to own and use than a gasoline powered car, most people would buy it. Well, another fact is that most people want a vehicle that fits their needs too.
Detroit (and the rest of the world) would do well to design to fit the need first, since the engineers say that the tough part isn't coming up with an electric car --- it's coming up with one that fits the universal need of everyone. You know, one that can run to the mall or across the state. Adding that huge battery capacity to go across the state is vastly different than just the minor battery capacity needed for the trip to the mall.
And that directly affects cost because the cost of batteries is in direct proportion to their capacity size. "One implication is that companies offering only a plug-in hybrid with, for example, 40 miles of all-electric range may be undercut by manufacturers of much less expensive vehicles with just 10 or 20 miles of electric range and only marginally higher operating costs," reports McKinsey.
The folks at McKinsey have a good point. "By focusing on specific driving missions of consumers, a company can match a vehicle's energy storage requirements to a consumer's particular needs and thus design more economic vehicles." Translated, that means the car you want can cost less if it is designed from the start to fit the needs you have for it.
That makes sense. Figures. McKinsey's economists seem to have figured out what the global carmakers have not.
In these tough times, it comes as no surprise that credit card complaints and predatory lending-mortgages made the list for the first time.
Back in their top 3 spots are the familiar con man favorites: debt collectors, car sales and home repair-construction outfits. They held the top 3 spots last year too. In fact, they have been on the list probably longer than there has even been a list.
A surprise is that complaints about credit card companies got so bad it tied for the #3 spot on the list, followed by internet goods and services, predatory lending-mortgages, telemarketing-do not call violations, auto repair, auto warranties, and telecom slamming-cramming.
The list is an unscientific list of the top consumer fraud spots and complaints compiled by the National Association of Attorney Generals, NAAG, and tells consumers and their lawyers what to watch out for.
Massive Toyota Floor Mat Recall and Lexus Floor Mat Recall
Toyota has recalled 3.8 million vehicles in what is the largest recall it has ever done. Apparently floor mats can get jammed at the gas pedal, causing the engine to accelerate uncontrollably, during which the engine can not be shut down.
Do you own one of these potential Toyota or potential Lexus lemons with a deadly defect or dangerous floor mat design?
2007 Lexus ES 350
2008 Lexus ES 350
2009 Lexus ES 350
2010 Lexus ES 350
2006 Lexus IS 250
2007 Lexus IS 250
2008 Lexus IS 250
2009 Lexus IS 250
2010 Lexus IS 250
2006 Lexus IS 350
2007 Lexus IS 350
2008 Lexus IS 350
2009 Lexus IS 350
2010 Lexis IS 350
The recall was prompted by years of runaway accelerator complaints and investigations that culminated in the August death of a highway patrolman and 4 passengers in a Lexus being driven by the officer. The passengers called 911 just minutes before their death in a violent 120 mph crash, saying that the accelerator had become stuck and the car would not shut off.
Officials suspect the driver side floor mat became lodged at the gas pedal with the accelerator in a wide open position.
Toyota admits to reports of the problem going back to its 2004 model year Prius. Federal safety officials say they received 102 reports of jammed accelerators in Toyota and Lexus models that resulted in at least 13 crashes and 17 injuries before the August crash that killed the off-duty California Highway Patrol officer.
Toyota reportedly has said that all driver side floor mats should be immediately removed from vehicles and nothing should be used, not even paper mats, until they come up with a solution.
We also maintain blogs covering vehicle recalls by vehicle type.
Car recalls are posted on this blog: http://carrecalls.blogspot.com/
Truck recalls can be found here: http://truckrecalls.blogspot.com/
Rv Recalls can be found here: http://rvrecalls.blogspot.com/
Motorcycle and Atv recalls are here: http://motorcycleatvrecalls.blogspot.com/
If you’ve got a lemon Toyota car or truck or a lemon Lexus car, or any other lemon vehicle, email us or call us at 1-888-331-6422 Toll Free. Helping consumers get rid of lemon cars is what we do. Every day.
Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to put up with a bad car.
Click here to see what your state Automobile Lemon Law says.
There are few movies that stand the test of time and endure generations of audiences. This is one. Here's where to find the nearest theatre and where to get your movie tickets online: http://www.ncm.com/Fathom/Premiere/WizardofOz_Exclusive.aspx?utm_campaign=WizardofOz&utm_medium=exclusiveblast&utm_source=WarnerBros
Don't count on any tickets being left at the box office.
Originally released in 1939, this remastered high definition version of the classic will show at less than 500 theatres nationwide, but that's all. It's the 70th anniversary of the film's debut and the remastering of the classic gives a new generation a chance to see it with a clarity that no one has seen before.
MGM released the film in its heyday, when 49 other movies were released that year, including Gone With the Wind, but only this one became the classic that every parent wanted their children to see and which they themselves enjoyed again and again.
Rarely do classic films get back to the big screen, where they were intended to be shown. This time, the movie screen version will also show movie outakes and interviews of some of the actors too, something normally only seen on a movie's dvd release.
The Wizard of Oz is one of those movies that most people have seen but few have ever seen as it was intended to be seen, on a giant movie theater screen where it all comes alive.
Check the website and find a screen near you. Then grab the kids (or the grandkids) and go. I guarantee you will leave the theater with a smile and more smiles are a good thing nowadays.
The Tesla Roadster is here. And is it ever unique.
Electric power that is virtually unheard of, both in its pickup and its range. Deemed quirky by some because of its odd fit and finish, but beautiful to behold and quiet enough to hold a conversation in with no noisey effects.
The best review of the new car yet to be seen has just showed up on the Ward's Auto .com website here: http://wardsauto.com/testdrive/drive_tesla_acceleration_090904/
If you haven't heard of the Tesla Roadster, you will. And if the company makes the interior as nice to be in as it has made the outside as nice to look at, this will be the electric car for all the others to beat. And that won't be easy, although the $128,500 starting price can buy a lot of gasoline.
Drop dead looks, 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds, and a range of over 200 miles on a single battery charge --- that's what the price buys you. Oh, and the ability to feel what han Solo felt when he kicked the Millennium Falcon into warp speed. Okay, that just might be worth it.
Automotive News is reporting that Dimitrios Biller worked as an attorney for Toyota Motor Corp. for four years until 2007, including representing the automaker in accident litigation. In a lawsuit filed this summer in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Biller said Toyota did not listen to his urgings to disclose all the evidence it had in rollover lawsuits or for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations.
The lawsuit, a public record, was quickly met by an effort of Toyota to get the judge assigned to the case to "seal' the record so no one would see what Biller is saying. But for now, the court documents are public. And the possible existence of evidence that could harm Toyota in accident litigation has caused Dallas attorney Todd Tracy to plan to refile 15 rollover, frontal-impact and rear-impact suits against Toyota.
Tracy, who fought against Biller in Toyota cases, has said he can not imagine Biller is making it up and he's not the only attorney who is getting ready to refile their cases.
Meanwhile, what is Toyota's response? Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said the company was "concerned" with Biller's breach of attorney-client privilege and contracts in disclosing information from when he worked at Toyota.
Notice that they didn't deny hiding evidence, they didn't deny destroying evidence, they just said he shouldn't be allowed to tell anyone about it. The whole thing sounds like a lawyer with a conscience and most people would be quick to say there's nothing wrong with that.
Courts will be looking to see if the allegations are true and if they are, Toyota may face some huge penalties and fines and dozens of new lawsuits on old cases that they thought they had won already. And rightly so.
Of course, the bank says it's identity theft and it was your money that got stolen. On the other hand, your money is still in your pocket. The money you gave the bank to hold onto, though, is gone. So, isn't it really just a bank robbery? How did that get to be our problem instead of the bank's problem?
Here's a link (below) to a great comedy spoof explaining the whole thing. By the time you get finished listening, you just might wonder too.
Is it Identity Theft or a Bank Robbery? Click here. Then you decide.
Bloomberg News is reporting that the U.S. Department of Transportation is advising consumers taking advantage of the "Cash for Clunkers" program not to sign contingency agreements promising to pay back up to $4,500 if dealers don’t receive payment from the government.
No contingency agreement is required to participate, the Transportation Department, which administers the $3 billion Car Allowance Rebate System, is reported to have said on its Web site.
To enable its dealers to get more money out of consumers, the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association apparently posted a form on its Web site that car dealers can use to make new car buyers reimburse the dealership the incentive amount if the dealer is unable to obtain the credit from the government "for any reason." The consumer can also return the car to the dealership and pay "a reasonable charge" for use of the new vehicle, according to the form.
Consumers signing the agreement also acknowledge their trade-in vehicle may have been destroyed and can’t be returned. The result? You sign and you're stuck. You give them back the new car and get zippo in return.
Be careful with this Cash for Clunkers program. We are hearing stories of car dealers getting consumers to sign everything and then calling the consumer up days later and saying their trade in wasn't "approved" for the program and now the consumer has to either come up with more cash or return the new car and (surprise, surprise) the consumer's trade in is already been sent off to the crusher and can't be returned.
The whole thing reminds us of the spot delivery yo-yo "your financing wasn't approved" rip off scam where the only thing that really wasn't approved was the amount of greed running rampant at the dealership.
The simple fact is that if the car dealer does it right, they should know immediately whether or not you will get approval and a credit. So don't trust any car dealer who calls you back and wants more money down, no matter what the excuse.
If you think you're the victim of a Cash for Clunkers rip off, call us. We help consumer protect themselves every day. It's what we do.
Here's how it seems to work and what happens later because of it.
Dealers advertise a "come on" low monthly payment for a brand new motorcycle and maybe they say it's an "introductory" rate for 2 years or maybe they don't. The part they don't seem to tell the buyer is that the payments are paying interest on the loan balance only. Dealers seem to routinely give the same sales pitch. They sell the buyer on the idea with something like this: "most people trade their bike in every two years, which is how long your payments will be low, so you'll be able to afford it and come out okay when you trade it in before the payment goes up."
What they don’t tell you is that if all you pay is interest then after two years you still owe the same amount on your motorcycle that you started out with but your bike isn't worth the same amount any more. The result?
You can’t trade it in and break even because it isn’t worth what you bought it for, which is also what you still owe on it. But now you're faced with a sudden jump in your required monthly payment amount.
At end of two years, the interest rate jumps to a much higher rate and your payments can triple or quadruple, so you can’t afford the payments then either. You are stuck in a loan that you can't afford and if you try to trade in your bike you can't get enough to pay it off either.
This introductory rate scam virtually forces you to trade it in and either come up with a down payment you weren't counting on or else "roll" the debt off the old bike and onto the new loan for the new bike. In other words, you go deeper in debt on the next bike. Do that a couple of times and you can't get out of the loan alive. In other words you will be stuck in a debt rut.
If you are thinking of buying a motorcycle and your dealer tries to sell you on this rip off introductory rate scam, be extra careful. The paperwork we've seen is confusing and misleading and the dealer's sales presentation is slick and smooth. If you aren't careful you will never know what happened to you until two years later when reality sinks in.
And the worst part? The strongest consumer protection law that most states have (they are called "Udap" laws) usually has a 2 year time limit to file a claim in court. So by the time you find out you are really stuck, your legal rights have already expired.
Gee, does anyone think that's a coincidence?
If you are the victim of this rip off scam, don't wait to find out your rights. Talk to a Burdge attorney now.
The folks who determine automotive resale values have released a new list of the best car resale values by class. These cars and trucks are the ones predicted by the experts to be able to get the best resale value later, which can make them a good buy right now. The list is compiled by Automotive Lease Guide and here are the winners.
Compact car: Honda Fit
Mid compact car: Scion xB
Midsize car: Honda Accord
Fullsize car: Nissan Maxima
Sporty car: Mini cooper
Near luxury car: BMW 1 Series
Luxury car: Lexus LS 460
Luxury sports car: Nissan GT-R
Compact utility vehicle: Jeep Wrangler ties with Subaru Forester
Midsize utility vehicle: Nissan Murano
Large utility vehicle: Toyota Sequoia
Near luxury utility vehicle: Land Rover LR2
Luxury utility veicle: Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Compact midsize pickup: Toyota Tacoma
Minivan: Toyota Sienna
Hybrid: Toyota Prius
Full size pickup: Ford F150
Commercial van: Dodge Sprinter
If you're looking for what car can give you the best return on your money, one of these is probably it. The only sad part is how few of Detroit's models made the list. That's something they still have to work on.
The Center for Responsible Lending is reporting that Minnesota's attorney general may have scored a victory for consumers nationwide in the "forced arbitration wars." A Minnesota Attorney General lawsuit against the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) ended forced arbitration in credit card contracts in that state. You can read more about it here: Credit-Card Disputes Tossed into Disarray.
NAF had processed what is estimated to be 200,000 forced arbitrations a year so it clearly was the "king" of the forced arbitration game.
At the same time, the Minn. AG lawsuit was strangely settled almost immediately with a press release announcement that came out the Sunday after the case was filed in court and just days before a Congressional committee release its findings which scalded NAF's forced arbitration program. It appears that the lawsuit, and the settlement, may actually have been intended to take some of the "bite" out of the Congressional committee's report. It would be a shame if the Minn. AG was somehow party to actually aiding NAF's agenda, but we'll have to wait and see on that one.
Meanwhile, apparently the American Arbitration Association (AAA, another private group that, like NAF did, also claims to be independent) told the Minn. AG that they did almost no credit card debt forced arbitrations and had put their own 'safeguards' in place to try to avoid some of the obvious bias and self-interest problems that rampantly ran behind the scenes, suspected but unproven, to consumers. Still AAA said it would no longer handle credit card debt forced arbitrations.
Meanwhile a class action was filed in Illinois on behalf of Illinois consumers who lost their "rigged" forced arbitration cases since 2007, sueing credit card gian MBNA/FIA and the debt collection law firm Mann Bracken. According to allegations NAF had direct ties to both the debt collection industry and the Mann Bracken law firm, and even had special nick names for the debt collectors that it routinely favored with its arbitration decisions against consumers.
If you're a victim of the NAF forced arbitration game, contact us about your legal rights.
It appears that millions of consumers may have been forced to pay millions of dollars to debt collectors who had paid NAF handsomely to give them money judgments against consumers, in the NAF forced arbitration ripoff.
These forced arbitration companies aren't going away any time soon. There's too much money to be had, so you can expect the forced arbitration game to continue to be rigged in favor of big business. Like we have said many a time before, forced arbitration simply sucks.
Minnesota-based NAF is the largest consumer credit private arbitration company which recently came under fire for its extensive "back room" relationships with the very companies that hire it to get favorable judgments against consumers. The AG alleges that NAF "secretly worked alongside creditors, and against consumer interests, in seeking to have mandatory, predispute arbitration clauses inserted in credit agreements signed by consumers" and appears to have good proof of it.
NAF has long claimed it was "independent and neutral" but it turns out that a group of New York hedge funds invested in the arbitration company and also acquired a majority stake in a debt collection agency which acquired the collection operations of the law firm Mann Bracken. So, it appears that the whole operation is run, from front to back, by debt collectors who, quite obviously, have a vested interest in getting money out of consumers and not in finding out whether or not consumers actually owe the money.
The case caption is State of Minnesota v. National Arbitration Forum, No. 27-09-18550, and appears to be filed in state court with claims that NAF committed consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and made false advertising statements.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is to be commended for calling a spade a spade and going after NAF, which has been the target of consumer advocates for years with claims of bias and favoritism toward the debt collectors that hire it.
The whole NAF back-room favoritism and bias more clearly came to light when Deanna Richert, a former manager at NAF, filed a federal lawsuit against NAF claiming she was denied promotions and terminated last year because of her gender and age, which were, respectively, female and over 40. In the lawsuit she also revealed how NAF had a policy of favoring its big client companies and even had a nickname for them ("famous parties"). The lawsuit was picked up by the Wall Street Journal and consumer advocates quickly realized that the truth about NAF's arbitration had come out. NAF, of course, says it was doing nothing wrong.
Apparently that was the smoking gun that caused Swanson to go after NAF.
We've said for years that arbitration sucks and both Richert's lawsuit and Swanson's lawsuit are now revealing more of the truth that anyone ever did before. Maybe now people will realize that arbitration is like playing poker with a stacked deck --- and it isn't stacked in your favor, folks.
There are ways to fight back against unfair arbitration and you can read more about it here: http://www.arbitrationsucks.com/.
At his sentencing hearing on Monday morning June 29, 2009, he was given a 150 year sentence.
Madoff pulled off what is probably the greatest Ponzi scheme fraud in history and has been the subject of tons of press that you can read at your leisure elsewhere on the internet.
The scale of his fraud and deceit certainly seems to easily justify the harshest of sentences. Still, one has to wonder where all the money went and why others didn't get arrested too. It seems very hard to believe that no one knew what he was up to in his entire operation --- not even his relatives who worked for him. Perhaps that's another day's justice.
That announcement, although a promise yet to be fulfilled, puts it ahead of Chrysler, which issued only an ambiguous statement of possible warranty plans for the millions of Chrysler vehicle owners who still don't know where they stand for sure.
If you've got a GM or a Chrysler vehicle, and you have any defects or problems, get it in the shop right away, while your dealer is still around and willing to try to help you.
For now, GM owners can breathe a sigh of relief.
The answer is yes according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). And, worse yet, it is expected to continue in the near future as the rescession takes its toll on jobs and wages.
The ACFE is the world's largest anti-fraud organization, dedicated to reducing business fraud. In their 2008 Report to the Nation, they found that nearly a trillion dollars of business annual revenues were siphoned off due to fraud. Now, their newest report indicates the level of business fraud is rising.
Rising faster than the Wall Street churning fraud of the late 80-early-1990's, that spawned Glenn Frey's hit song "I've Got Mine", the fraud investigators at ACFE said the expect fraud to continue to increase during the next 12 months too.
Their latest report is based on a survey of fraud investigators, who reported an increase in fraudulent activities in the last year over past years. The report, "Occupational
Fraud: A Study of the Impact of an Economic Recession", blames the increase on "intense financial pressures during the economic crisis." There mere existence of an opportunity for fraud to occur was not enough, according to ACFE.
As the ACFE President said, "Desperate people do desperate things."
These are tough times and they're right. The fear of personal disaster can cause many otherwise honest merchants and business people to consider and do things that might not occur in a normal economy. The result for you? Be more careful than ever. After all, the only thing that makes Bernie Madoff unusual nowadays, may be the sheer size of his fraud. The more ordinary acts of fraud may be happening all around you in ordinary small ways.
A fourth of the fraud discovered in the ACFE's 2008 Report was just plain overbilling. That could be as simple as bogus charge card billing or phone bill statement in small amounts of $15 or $20 which adds up to millions of dollars because many people don't look over their charge card bills carefully or just don't complain long enough or loud enough about the suspicious small charge on their account.
Don't waste your money. If you see a charge you didn't authorize on your account statement, call and demand that it be removed and don't take "no" for an answer. Then, report it to your state Attorney General's Consumer Fraud department and demand that they investigate.
Crooks will always be crooks, but these hard times are causing many near-crooks to turn the corner, costing consumers millions of their hard earned dollars.
Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978.
In addition to moving things along for GM, it also means a big sigh of relief for the roughly 360 Saturn dealers who General Motors had announced would be orphaned if a sale did not occur.
A Chinese company has announced its intention to buy the Hummer operation, But that still leaves Pontiac to contend with as GM keeps heading to a leaner operation that it hopes will be more profitable too.
There's no word yet on whether the sales would mean that the new owners would continue to honor the old GM warranties but under bankruptcy law the sales could occur in such a way that all old warranty rights were liquidated. Or not. We'll have to wait and see.
6,000 GM dealers received one of two letters from GM this week, the good one and the bad one. The bad one said "so long" basically. The good one, if you can call it that, set out new expectations for surviving dealers and new requirements too and gave a June 12 deadline to agree "or else" they'd find themselves being included in the bankruptcy and not invited along for the "survival ride" so to speak. Ok, so do it already, GM.
What this economy needs, we suspect, is for everyone to stop talking the doom and gloom trash and start getting over it and moving on.
At a concert in Dayton last night, the musician thanked the crowd for coming out and went on for another half minute or so to talk about the fact that we live in a resilient society in this country and that we will all survive the current economic mess and, perhaps, just keeping that in mind can help us to cope with the present and have more faith in the future. To be sure, we still need to be careful on this rocky road, but he had a good point about keeping in mind that the road does eventually lead us to a better spot.
It's time that Detroit, and the rest of us, turned the page. That starts with each of us. Then, maybe the media will realize that all of us regular folks have heard enough of the negative and tone it down too.
Seems that there are another 450 GM dealers whose franchises will expire within the next year that GM has decided will not be renewed. That has the same effect as shutting them down.
Reportedly, GM decided who to chop based on dealership profitability, its capitalization, its sales "effectiveness", and the dealer's customer-satisfaction scores. All of those are long-standing criteria used by manufacturers to score financially successful dealership operations.
All of this comes as GM is putting the finishing touches on what is expected to be the largest business bankruptcy ever filed in the US, which analysts predict will probably be filed Monday, June 1st, 2009.
On top of this new round of chop notices, when GM gets rid of Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and its involvement with Saab, there will probably be several hundred other dealers that will be out of the picture.
The story now is the same as before. If you've got a lemon GM car, or any lemon car or lemon truck, you need a good attorney now more than ever. Don't put up with any repair shop run around either.
On May 14, 2009 Chrysler notified 789 of its dealers that they were being chopped. That's about 25% of the total Chrysler dealer network. Reports are that the list was created largely with instructions of Fiat, who is expected to be the new owner in the coming weeks.
Fiat understandably would not likely sell well in the rural US, which may explain why many dealers on the chopping block are located in rural areas of the country. By closing the nearly 800 stores, the vast majority of remaining Chrysler dealerships are stores that sell all 3 brands under one roof --- Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler --- and that has been the goal of Chrysler for years. Too bad it took financial collapse to get it done.
To find out if a dealer near you is on the "you've been chopped" list, check out the Wall Street Journal's list posted here: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/Chryslerdealerlist05142009.pdf
If that link doesn't work, try here: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/CNBC/Sections/News_And_Analysis/_News/__EDIT%20Englewood%20Cliffs/ChryslerDealership.pdf
Meanwhile, if you've got a Chrysler with defects, a Dodge that won't run, or a Jeep that won't beep, you better get it back to your dealer right away and try to get warranty work done while they are still around.
The Chrysler Bankruptcy actually involves about 25 corporations that Chrysler "owns" and here's the list along with their bankruptcy case number, for the curious crowd:
09-50000 Chrysler Realty Company LLC 09-50001 Peapod Mobility LLC09-50002 Chrysler LLC 09-50003 Chrysler Aviation Inc.09-50004 Chrysler Dutch Holding LLC09-50005 Chrysler Dutch Investment LLC 09-50006 Chrysler Dutch Operating Group LLC09-50007 Chrysler Institute of Engineering 09-50008 Chrysler International Corporation09-50009 Chrysler International Limited, L.L.C. 09-50010 Chrysler International Services, S.A.09-50011 Chrysler Motors LLC 09-50012 Chrysler Service Contracts Florida, Inc.
09-50013 Chrysler Service Contracts Inc.09-50014 Chrysler Technologies Middle East Ltd.09-50015 Chrysler Transport Inc.09-50016 Chrysler Vans LLC09-50017 DCC 929, Inc. 09-50018 Dealer Capital, Inc.09-50019 Global Electric Motorcars, LLC 09-50020 NEV Mobile Service, LLC09-50021 NEV Service, LLC 09-50022 TPF Asset, LLC09-50023 TPF Note, LLC09
You can monitor the Chrysler bankruptcy filings in Court at this website here: http://www.chryslerrestructuring.com/
If you've got a lemon Chrysler or a lemon Jeep or a lemon Dodge, now's the time to cross your fingers and try to get your dealer to agree to fix defects for free, while they are still there and while Chrysler might still pay them.
Today it was 25% of Chrysler dealers who got chopped. And tomorrow? General Motors says it will release its list of GM dealers who'll be chopped and reports are the numbers are only going to be bigger.
CBS' KPHO television station reported that GM paid for airfare and treated 500 guests to a two night stay at the Phoenix lux resort Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa.
The GM guests work for rental car companies, government agencies and businesses that buy GM vehicles. To help them get around during their stay, GM reportedly shipped in 150 vehicles for them to use.
But not all the sun, fun, games, golf, and spa time is on GM. Apparently golf and spa costs aren't being covered by GM. Well, that's certainly reasonable, folks (more sarcasm intended).
Local tv station CBS 5 News wanted to get on the property to ask more questions about the event but the resort would not allow media inside. Here's a link to the station's news piece about it: http://www.kpho.com/video/19400972/index.html
GM bleeds and borrows and then parties on taxpayer loans. And then DFO Ray Young said GM will need almost $3 billion more of government loan money now and probably $9 billion more during the rest of the year. It makes you wonder what these bozo's are thinking.
"We cannot cut costs fast enough to offset that revenue loss," Young is reported to have said. "People are concerned about bankruptcy, and that's the reason why we want to avoid it if at all possible." He might as well have added, "cutting those greens fees and spa treatments really helped, too."
Well, there's certainly nothing like a good party to chase away those bankruptcy blues, that's for sure.
Detroit auto workers need help and that means the company needs help, but luxury weekend resort time on the government tab is not a good PR move. It doesn't take a genuis to realize it either. Stunts like this are a good example of why GM is sliding toward bankruptcy and more and more likely to land smack dab in the middle of a bankruptcy courtroom.
Meanwhile, if you've got a GM product and it needs warranty repair work, you better get it in the shop quick. Some dealers are already reported to be refusing to do warranty work out of fear that they won't get reimbursed for it by the factory. Gee, I guess those resort weekends can get expensive.
Motorcycles for sale at your local Best Buy? The deal has been inked and they are set to go on sale first in the West Coast's Best Buy stores. It could go national after that.
And if the quality turns out to be accurate, normal modest sized motorcycles will be up against some stiff competition. They're electric powered and not bad looking at all.
For a new company to create a network of dealers from scratch is a huge hurdle. Craig Bramscher, CEO of electric motorcycle maker Brammo, made a really smart move, though. He made a deal with Best Buy.
The Brammo Enertia model is a carbon fiber urban commuter motorbike with a top speed of 50 mph and a 40 mile range. What helps get past its small range is its cool looks. It doesn't hurt that the company founder is a "car guy" either, starting out at a parts store in Kansas City and building a media company that works with media industry giants now.
Later this spring, the first Brammo EV bike model (there are 3 models planned) will go on sale online, but you can pick up one at some Best Buy stores later this spring too. Details are sketchy at this early stage but the Best Buy models are set to include the Brammo.
Although Brammo started out to build super cars, the rage for electric vehicles turned his thoughts to electric cars but he quickly realized that the start up costs would be impossible. However, building an electric motorcycle from scratch was a whole different thing.
Brammo’s goal is nothing less than being the first profitable pure "EV" company, and the plan is that motorcycles will make that happen. The Enertia is priced at $12,000, and reports are that an upscale version is already sold out. A federal ten percent tax credit actuallly can take the price down to $10,000.
“This is a super-efficient motorcycle,” company founder Bramscher is reported by Bnet Auto to have said. “It can travel 7,500 miles on $50 worth of energy. Existing motorcycles can do, at best, 80 mpg. We are orders of magnitude more efficient—and 10 times as efficient as a Prius, too.”
Tax credits, a reasonable price, terrific mileage, and wide market availability --- these are the makings of success and Bramscher could have a terrific product on his hands. If you want a motorcycle that will get you around town at a modest cost and that'll let you just drive right on by every gas station, then this just might be it.