Wednesday

Cadillac XLR Dies and Saturn Lives


GM has announced that the Cadillac XLR will halt in the second quarter of 2009, as part of its cost-cutting efforts to impress Congress and get more bail out funding. At the same time, GM's budget still includes funding for Saturn so apparently the brand will live on --- for now.

Bringing the XLR to an end was expected and the move will mean layoffs for 40 workers at the Bowling Green, KY, GM plant, which also makes the Chevrolet Corvette. XLR sales are reported to have recently fallen 28.6% to a mere 1,250 vehicles. While a unique luxury 2 seater, its place in the lineup just isn't supported in the marketplace.

Cadillac hopes to keep buyers interested with a smaller sporty 4 seat car, the CTS coupe, which promises more power.

Meanwhile Saturn dealers are exhaling a sigh of relief at GM's dealer announcement that it won't kill the brand yet, in spite of promises to Congress that Saturn's days were numbered. Some dealers had reported that showrooms quickly emptied out when work got out last month that GM was thinking of either selling or closing down the entire Saturn operation. One dealer reported, off the record, that he hadn't sold a single car in the first 3 weeks of January.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons since 1978.

Tuesday

Your Credit Score, Understanding It


A study in 2007 by Bankrate showed that 45% of US consumers don't know their own credit score and 32% have never even looked at their credit report. The current numbers are probably not much better and it's no wonder.

Everyone may be in debt, but your credit score is probably not as bad as you think.

There are actually 3 different methods, but the FICO credit score is a common one. Credit scores can range from 300 to 850, and the higher number indicates a better credit rating.

Using a complex math equation, 5 areas of a credit report are weighed to make up your FICO credit score: payment history (35%), length of credit history (15%), amounts owed (30%), new credit (10%), and types of accounts you have (10%). Some things are not counted toward your score at all, like age, sex, national origin and marital status.

Banks, finance companies, and other lenders look at your credit score to make credit decisions about you, including what interest rates to apply when you ask for a loan.

Looking at the numbers on a national scale, FICO reports that 7% have a score of 549 or less. 20% are in the 550 to 649 range. 33% are in the middle at 650 to 749 on the scale. Another 27% are between 750 and 799, and the top 13% have a score above 800.

To find out what your credit score is, you can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the 3 major US credit bureaus by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/. There are other credit report sites out there but if a web site asks you for credit card information then you are NOT on the right web site to get a free report.

You should check your credit report at least once a year so you can be sure that there are no errors on your credit report. Credit record mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars in interest charges that a better score can avoid. You can find more tips about protecting your credit record by clicking here.

Whenever you are considering applying for a loan or new credit card, it's a good idea to consider getting a new copy of your report and checking it out for accurance before you apply for new credit. It can save you big money. And if you find an error on your credit, the report usually tells you how to straighten it out.

If the credit bureau won't remove it, and it's wrong, we can help, but in many cases this is one area where you can do it yourself.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers solve problems since 1978.

Sunday

Why Detroit Lives

Detroiters take a beating regularly. Whether it's the economy, sports, the auto business, foreclosures, all sorts of things. On top of that, winter weather is just plain bitterly cold.

So why does Detroit live? Why do Detroiters stay and keep going on? Well, someone has an answer. And when you think about it, it's an answer for all of us.

Mitch Albom, sometimes author (20 million copies of just 9 books is pretty darn good, folks) and long-time sports writer for the Detroit Free Press and Sports Illustrated, knows the reason and has written about it eloquently.

His is a story about changing downtowns, factory workers, soup kitchens, small talk among strangers, the reminder of Sweetest Day, and people who want to scream and don't.

Detroit right now feels like a lot of us. An ember of hope in the midst of dusty dreams yet to be. Of unemployment numbers in the midst of personal loyalty. Roots and perseverance. What Detroit has, is what many of us need.

Detroit hasn't given up, in spite of all the reasons things have been tough. It's like the rest of us that way. Too many news broadcasts with nothing but negative have filled up our evenings. Too much uncertainty in these times caused constant worry and fret for ourselves, our families, and each other. But the people of Detroit haven't given up.

They hang on for the same reason all of us do. They remember when things were better and know it can be again. Its people recall the glory days of not so long ago. A time when people made things and no one even heard of something called a "service industry" because the very word industry meant something else. It meant something more.

Detroiters don't leave, don't quit, and don't give up. They have lived through the best and now they're living through the worst. Moreso than many others. They stick it out because they know their neighbors and their neighborhoods. They're family. They like where they are and they know who they are and they have faith in what they know will come to be, sooner or later.

In spite of all the bad jokes and all the bad times, they haven't given up. Mitch Albom writes beautifully of the reasons that Detroit is more like every corner of this country than anyone will ever admit, without ever pointing it out.

When this country regains the faith that Detroiters have, this near-depression will go away and this life will get better for all of us. Everyone knows that this country has been through an awful lot of bad in the last 8 years and maybe much longer than that for some. But the people in Detroit still have a stubborn faith in a future that will be better for their kids than they've seen for themselves.

Take a minute to read Mitch Albom's article on the courage of Detroit. He could have written it about a thousand towns in this country. Maybe even your's. It'll give you hope to realize that in a town that has taken it very hard, there they still hope.

This probably all sounds strange, coming from lawyers who fight with the Detroit Big 3 all the time. But it's sort of a family fight. Believe it or not, we love cars. We just want them to run right. Until they do, we can wait and argue with the Big 3 every time a new client comes in with one that doesn't run right. We still have faith that someday they will. Until then, we'll just keep arguing.

Burdge Law Office
www.NewCarLemonLaw.com

Because life is too short to put up with a lemon car.

Saturday

Toyota Quitely Wins #1 Spot

Something quite extraordinary happened last week and hardly anyone noticed. Toyota became #1.

There was no fanfare. No press release. No party. It just quietly happened.

For 77 years General Motors had been the world's largest motor vehicle manufacturer. But on Wednesday, January 21, GM received the second installment of its federal survival loan and quietly slipped from the #1 spot to #2. That day, it rewrote the "end tag line" on its letterhead to read "One of the world's largest automakers."

Making the best of it, a GM sales analyst remarked that he didn't think being #1 means anything to consumers and that the focus is on "viability and profitability."

Meanwhile over at Toyota they announced that they will have their first year of annual operating loss in 70 years. That's when you know the economy is lousy: when the company that becomes #1 is still losing money. And on the tube? There's more rebates and incentives and zero interest rate loans from all of them.

Detroit, I know you're losing money, but giving away the inventory isn't the way to make a profit. Only a company accountant can make sense of this but one thing's for sure. What's good for GM is good for the country make not have been a true maxim, but it is true that what's bad for the country is bad for GM.

Maybe it's time to throw away the rebates. Maybe it's time to simply cut the price to the lowest it can get and just sell. All the game playing with rebates and incentives and all the rest just seems to be so much smoke and mirrors. And the rebate game became addictive to American car buyers. And that became addictive to Detroit. Now Detroit thinks that rebates are the primary way to sell cars and consumers have come to expect them.

It won't be easy to wean consumers off the rebate drug, but if Detroit provided the credit on fair terms (stop letting dealers play with the interest rates), increased quality, warranty coverage and length, and cut prices, we think American buyers would appreciate the honesty and come back.

American workers still know how to build better cars. If Detroit wants to survive, it better figure out how to sell them.

Burdge Law Office
www.BurdgeLaw.com

Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978.

Wednesday

Detroit Auto Show Ends

For a nicely done and thorough review of the Detroit Auto Show, check out TheAutoChannel wrap up article by Steve Purdy.

He takes the time, and has the experience, to contrast each maker's display with their past work and noted the lack of flash this year. He also has some good thoughts on the new models and concepts that were shown and I agree completely that the Cadillac Converj was the best looking thing at the show. Too bad it's just a concept car for now. If the Chevy Volt takes off though, it could give the Caddy model a well-deserved jolt toward production.

Meanwhile Tesla and Fisker made their first appearance at the show, with their electric cars that are pricey but good looking and highly desirable. Both have their pricey cars in production and if you've got enough green in your wallet you can have their green in your driveway. The Fisker S is a remarkable electric machine and won Detroit News' best electric vehicle vote at the show.
But the car-you-can-have-right-now to beat all cars at the show, was the bright red, race-track worthy Audi R8 V10. To call it a "super sports car" is an understatement. Made of all aluminum and magnesium under its skin, the Audi R8 was probably the most technologically advanced car at the show and looks more than capable of flight on wheels. These cars are available right now and every once in a rare while (mostly in California) you'll see one on the road.

Check out Steve Purdy's article for more details. It's well worth the read if you love cars. Even though we're lemon lawyers, we too love a well built car. One of these days, maybe that'll be the way they're all built. Until then, if you've got a lemon car or a lemon truck, call us or email us. We know how to get you a new one or your money back. It's what we've been doing since 1978.

Burdge Law Office

Because life is too short to put up with a bad car.

Monday

Checker (the Cab Builder) Files Bankruptcy



After 87 years of building taxi cabs and motor vehicle parts, Checker Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection January 16, 2009.



The company joins at least seven other major auto suppliers that have filed for bankruptcy in the past year.


Once the company made the taxi cabs that crowded many metropolitan US cities and made the term "yellow cab" universal.

It's another sign of the times but hopefully one that will come to an end with the change of administrations in Washington starting tomorrow. Consumers can only hope.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers since 1978.

Tuesday

Protect Your Credit

Preventing identity theft also means protecting your credit reputation and credit record. To do that you may want to stop getting pre-approved credit card applications that can be stolen from your mailbox, make sure you credit report is accurate and no strange accounts show up on it, and maybe even freeze your credit file. Here's why and how for each of them.

Protecting Your Mail

Millions of pre-approved credit card applications are mailed out each year to consumers and many of them end up in the trash can. Don't just throw it away, where a "dumpster diving" thief can find it, fill it out and change the address and get credit in your name, run up the bill and stick you with a black mark on your credit record. Tear up that application first. And when mailing important documents or payment checks out in the mail, don't put them in your mailbox out front. That red flag is a signal to everyone that you've got mail they can get just by driving by. Drop those envelopes off at the post office. Better yet, if you want to stop getting those pre-approved credit card applications in the mail, just call 1.888.5.OPT.OUT. You can also stop most junk mail too by sending a letter with your first and last name, home address, and signature to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Assn, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

Check Your Credit Report Regularly

You can get one free credit report on yourself each year from each of the three national credit bureaus and you should. Check to see if any strange credit inquiries show up, if any new accounts have been opened up that you don't know about, or if anything is inaccurate and just a plain mistake that needs fixing. To get your free report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call them at 1.877.322.8228. The smart move is to get a free one from a different credit bureau once each 4 months. The info is a little different in each report, but a regular check of your report can keep you on top of things.

Freeze Your Credit Record

There's an even easier way to stop anyone from getting new credit in your name. Just freeze your credit file. It's sometimes called a "security" freeze and doing it makes it illegal for the credit bureau to release any information about you to new creditors without your express approval. That can make it very tough for an identity thief to use your personal identifying information to open up a new account or get a new credit card because stores and other credit card companies can't get a copy of your credit report from the only 3 credit reporting agencies who have it. Freezing your credit costs just $10 per credit bureau but is free for identity theft victims. To find out what the State Credit Freeze Law is in your state, click here.

You can contact the credit bureaus here:

Equifax
[security freeze request]
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian
[security freeze request]
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

Innovis
[security freeze request]
PO Box 725
Columbus, OH 43216

TransUnion
[security freeze request]
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

And to find out more about your credit rights, check out Ohio Fair Credit, the web site that explains your rights and how to protect them.

Monaco Worsens ?

The complaints and reports are starting to come in that Monaco dealers are refusing to do warranty work because of either "slow pay" or "no pay" on warranty claims.

Rumor has it that a Southern California dealer turned away a 2009 Dynasty owner's warranty repair request because the factory was paying for it. Given the cost of a Dynasty, that's got to be one angry owner.

On top of that, we have another report from a Country Coach owner that his warranty repair trip to the factory was closed because they closed the factory doors "until further notice."

It's scary times out there if you own an Rv with defects. Get the work done fast. Get it done often. Try to get back to your selling dealer, where perhaps some sense of a moral obligation may help "guilt" the dealer into doing the repairs at no charge.

If all else fails, don't wait too long before getting an experience Rv Lemon Law lawyer's help. Like my grandmother told me, "First in time, won't wait in line. Last in line, won't get a dime."

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to put up with a bad Rv (or a deadbeat Rv company)

Monday

Monaco Threatened With NYSE Delisting


Already suffering economically and having just consulted industry experts on how to turn its business around, now Monaco has received notice from the New York Stock Exchange that they will be delisted if things don't improve.

The same thing happened to Fleetwood recently and they still haven't gotten back on the NYSE listings.

Monaco was given notice on January 6, 2009 that it failed to comply with NYSE standards that required their common stock maintain an average closing stock price of over $1 per share for 30 consecutive trading days. As this is being typed, it's down to 63 cents from the day's start at only 81 cents.

Monaco has ten days to notify NYSE that it intends to get its value back up.

Perhaps more ominous was the NYSE note in the letter that Monaco's average market capitalization over a recent 30 trading day period was less than the minimum $25 million allowed by NYSE and for that reason alone NYSE could have immediately suspended trading and delisted Monaco stock.

Preceding the notice have been a flurry of changes of significant shares ownership notices filed by Monaco, at least 9 different SEC filings.
So what's it all mean? Nothing good, we suspect.

If you've got a Monaco needing warranty repairs, you better get it in the shop soon. There may come a point where dealer's won't do the work without you paying, if the factory stops paying for it.

Meanwhile, if you've got a lemon Monaco coach, now is the time to do something about it. Email or call us toll free right now at 1.888.331.6422.

Because life is too short to put up with a bad Rv.

More RV Companies Bite the Dust


2008 was a bad year for the Rv industry. Some companies merged, sold off assets, closed or filed for bankruptcy protection. If you're thinking of buying a motorhome, you need to be careful of the viability of the builder to stand behind their product. When an Rv company goes belly up, so does your factory warranty.

Unfortunately, according to the folks at RvResolve.com, here is an updated list of RV companies that have closed:

Chinook (Trail Wagons)
Sunline Coach
National RV
Travel Supreme
Ameri- Camp
West Coast Leisure Homes (in Canada)
Western RV
Alfa Leisure
Weekend Warrior
Teton Homes
Pilgrim
Bigfoot RV (in Canada)
Sun Valley Inc.
Nu Wa Industries

Forest River now owns Coachman's RV Division (at least in this case part of the sale set aside 11 million dollars in an escrow account for warranty costs).

Next up? You need to keep a watch on Country Coach and Monaco. Country Coach announced that they may not reopen in February (that's their worst case scenario) and Monaco has hired some financial advisors to explore "strategic options". That doesn't sound good.

If you've got a lemon Rv, now is the time to get it in the shop for any repairs you want done under warranty, while there is still a manufacturer to pay the claim. If they won't cover your repair, then it may be time to take quick action. Call or email us today for a free Lemon Rv case analysis.

Wednesday

First Rv Ever Made is For Sale


While at least one motorhome builder has for years tried to take credit as the original Rv builder, they weren't. GM was. And you can buy the first Rv ever built if you head to Arizona in January 2009 for the big Barrett Jackson auction where GM is selling about 200 rare and one of a kind vehicles from its private holdings.


In 1925 GM called it the "House Car" and built it on the Chevrolet 1-Ton chassis. Before motor homes were available commercially, many campers produced in the early days were built around plans supplied to a carpenter or cabinet maker. This is General Motors' version.


The world's first motorhome was built on what GM billed as "a superior utility express chassis" with a 125 inch wheel base with a 171 cid/35 hp, 4 cylinder engine and based on a 6 volt electrical system. With a custom built wood body and custom mixed two tone blue exterior paint, the Rv sports red striping and ablack cowl and chassis.


Equipment, while now approaching a century old, still is unique by any standard. It has Oak with mahogany trim, a maple wood floor and counter tops, dark blue mohair cushions, dark blue wool carpet, and a dark blue roller shades with blue and white gingham curtains. The sink has a hand pump water faucet using a 5 gallon oak barrel for water storage. Waste is handed with a commode with removable bucket for waste.


Although not power-operated, there is an automatic flip down front step. The interior is illuminated by 6 volt electrical lights and kerosene lamps, and heat is provided by an interior kerosene heater.


Like any good Rv's, there's a kitchen of a sort, equpped with a single burner kerosene stove and carbon tetrachloride fire extinguisher. Although there weren't many smooth roads even in 1925, there were toll roads so GM built in a toll fee payment door too.


1925 If Fleetwood or Monaco had the spare cash, they'd probably jump at the Arizona auction sale chance. Shucks, if I had the cash I would too. No one is predicting what the House Car will go for yet, but you can bet it'll be more than what a new Airstream costs. And probably worth every penny, too.


Burdge Law Office
http://www.rvlemonlaw.com/
Because life is too short to put up with a lemon Rv, no matter what its model year.

Sunday

Big 3 Opening Detroit Auto Show

Chrysler just got its $5 billion payment from the US government on January 2, 2009. GM got its first billion dollar payment too.

In spite of the auto industry woes, the North American International Auto Show opens Jan. 17 and runs to the 25th at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, a city whose housing values dipped 15% last year, causing Forbes.com to name it one of the ten fastest dying cities in the US.

While it's all going bad, the Big 3 turn up the glitz. Chrysler does have one of its trucks in the running for truck of the year, its Dodge Ram is up against the Ford F-150 and Mercedes ML320 Bluetec. It could use a win.

Meanwhile, GM is cutting back its presence at the show and so are the Japanese. Still, the auto show will have more exhibitors this year than ever and there are more world debuts there than ever before. What recession?

And to balance this, Chrysler idles all its plants and GM says there are no talks going on to purchase Chrysler. You just gotta wonder. Austerity be damned and full speed ahead.

It all reminds me of a private college that filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization back in the 1980's (another economically hurting time) and then said they needed to use their sparse cash to attend a private college executives conference on a Pacific island to keep up appearances. The bankruptcy judge let them and later they ended up going out of business anyway.

There's a time to polish up and show off your new hubcaps, GM and Chrysler, but this is not it. They'd be wise to be rather conservative this year. After all, they still don't have all the bailout money yet.

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to put up with a lemon.

Saturday

Recalls Drop

It's about time the quality came back. Maybe it has. At least for some.

Vehicle recalls totalled 10.2 million last year, a 30% drop from 2007 and the lowest number of vehicles recalled since 1994, reported the Detroit News after examining the government's motor vehicle recall statistics. Surprisingly, a higher total number of recalls occurred than ever before, 642 for the year, which means that the typical recall involved fewer vehicles than ever before. That jives with what we've been seeing too.

The drop in vehicles being recalled is probably a signal of a quality improvment level that has been a long time coming. Who went up and who went down is not much of a surprise, really. GM and Toyota and Honda all had more recalled vehicles than they did last year. Chrysler recall numbers were down a little, but Ford's recall numbers were down substantially from last year.

The government statistics come from a database that was created in 2000 which Congress mandated federal bureaucrats (in charge of overseeing the actual safety investigators) to begin keeping the numbers and making them public, largely because of the recall of 14 million Firestone tires that had been linked to the deaths of more than 270 people, mostly in Ford Explorers in rollover crashes.

Federal safety officials say that the final 2008 recall figures won't be available until much later in 2009, but as of the end of the year the unofficial talley showed automakers had recalled 10.2 million vehicles. That compares with 14.5 million vehicles recalled in all of 2007, which was up from 11.2 million in 2006 but still far lower than a record 30.8 million vehicles called back in 2004 in 600 campaigns.

So, how do the factories compare? Among the top six automakers, two of Detroit's Big Three fared well, with Ford Motor Co. sharply reducing its recalls to 1.6 million vehicles from 5.5 million in 2007, and Chrysler LLC dropping to just 360,000 vehicles from 2.2 million recalled in 2007. General Motors Corp. saw a sizeable increase, to 1.9 million vehicles recalled in 2008, up from 538,000 last year.

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. also recalled more vehicles this year than last, while Nissan Motor Co.'s tally dropped. Toyota called back 833,000 vehicles, up from 640,000 last year, but far below its 2005 tally of 2.2 million. Honda issued recalls for 797,000 vehicles this year, up from 550,000 in 2007, but down from 1.2 million in 2006. Nissan recalled about 581,000 vehicles this year, down from 1.3 million in 2007.

Whether you're driving a recalled Ford or a recalled GM, or a Honda on its recall list, or one of the rarer Nissan recalled cars, if it's your car being recalled, it matters.

If you've got a lemon, don't put up with a runaround. Call us (toll free phone 888.331.6422) or email us today. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. All kinds, everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Because life is too short to put up with a lemon.