Wednesday

What cars have the best resale values?

A good way to realize that the conomy is rebounding is when you start seeing more positive articles about car ownership again. Let's face it. Car sales are a major driving force in the economy, perhaps even moreso than home sales. Well, if that's true then there's good news coming.

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.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers save money every day.

Friday

Is arbitration fair? Can I sue NAF? Is arbitration a ripoff?

We've talked before about how forced arbitration sucks and now it appears that maybe, but only maybe, someone is doing something about it.

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.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get even, since 1978.

Wednesday

Is Arbitration Fair? Proof that Arbitration is Unfair

The Minnesota Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against one of the big private arbitration companies, the National Arbitration Forum (NAF), alleging their arbitration process is rigged in favor of big businesses who pay it big bucks.

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/.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers fight back since 1978.