Saab Sale Dies, and Saab With it

GM received word today that the only buyer for the Saab brand has backed out. It looks like the Saab sale will die and Saab with it.

GM had notified the Saab dealers that it would close Saab down if it didn't find a buyer and for months the only company interested, Sweden's supercar builder Koenigsegg AB, was working with GM to make a deal happen. That came to a screeching halt today.

Now, with Penske backing out of the Saturn sale, GM is left with two more brands to be shuttered, leaving hundreds of Saab dealers with empty stores and thousands of owners with no Saab store service department.

Just two weeks ago GM had warned the Saab dealers of the chance of Saab being shut down in a failed sale, but dealers kept a stiff upper lip, as Saab sales took a nose dive of 62% leading up to October. This is no time to be a Saab dealer, and no time to be a Saab owner.

If your Saab needs anything fixed, better get it in the shop while there still is a shop to get into.

Meanwhile, orphaned owners with evaporating warranties are left wondering what happens next. If you're one of those orphaned owners, now might be a good time to buy a Ford, or almost anything else. The trade in value of that Saab is not likely to be going anywhere but down.

Because life's too short to be driving a lemon.


The best of times, the worst of times

Think you live in the state with the worst economy? Think again.

Everyone seems to know that California is in the biggest economic trouble, with an economy in the dumpster, high unemployment, and no easy way to fix any of it. What may surprise many is not California. It’s the other states that are so very close to their own economic abyss.

There’s a new study out that has looked at the economy of all 50 states and ranked them.

The PEW Charitable Trusts has crunched state numbers for more than a decade, with a goal of making state governments stronger in order to improve the services we all get for our tax dollars. Part of that includes reporting on the bad times and, as we all know, we are now in a blockbuster bad time.

They looked at numerous factors to come up with a scorecard for each state: foreclosures, budget gaps, loss of revenue, unemployment, how easy or hard it is for each state to raise its taxes in order to cover shortfalls, etc.

With a “30" score being the worst and a lower score being better, here’s the “top 10" of the worst state economies, in order: California, Arizona, Rhode Island, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa scored the best.

So where does your state fit? Ohio is almost the center of the list while Georgia’s budget gap put it just a hair behind the auto belt states of Michigan-Wisconsin-Illinois by one point.

The worst ten states account for nearly a third of the US population and economy, which is why those states in particular matter to all of us.

What the study shows is just how much farther the US economy has to go, although there are bright spots of how hard some states are trying. Wyoming, for instance, had a 19.7% drop in revenue but managed to come with 2% of balancing its budget.

We’ll all get through this as the economy starts to get better and better, but if history has shown anything, it’ll be a longer road than anyone wants it to be.


Rusty Toyota's Being Investigated

Federal safety officials have told Toyota to cough up more info on the rusted frame problems in the 2000 Toyota Tundra truck and the 2001 Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

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.


$430.32 for an Rv?

It’s been over four years and the most expensive Rv albatross in US history is still around the federal government’s neck. Katrina was a disaster in far more than one way. What it did to the thousands of people in the Southeast, however, still isn’t over with.

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.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to breathe formaldehyde in your motorhome.


Electric Cars For a Reason

The car makers are all abuzz about electric cars. Seems like everyone is trying to build one faster than the others are (or better than the others are planning to do). But the objective of all of them seems to be the existence of the car and not the purpose of the car. That's like saying no one needed pickup trucks or minivans. Every vehicle is designed for a purpose and car makers might do well to keep that in mind. Maybe, just maybe, one electric car design is not the best way to go for all of us.

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.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get their money's worth since 1978.


Top 10 Consumer Complaints

Every year the state Attorney Generals run their numbers to see what scams and rip off artists consumers are complaining about the most. This year they all got together and totalled the numbers on a national basis and the list is out with some old familiar and new faces on it.

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.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978.