Tuesday

Tesla Electric Car Gets Hotter and Hotter

We talked before about the Tesla roadster and its great looks (click here) and now there's a new driving review out that hands it more accolades than ever (click here).

Turned loose with the keys in hand and no copilot, the reviewer took the roadster for an uncontrolled spin and came away a sworn advocate.

"It’s on the highway, though, that the Roadster really shines. Acceleration in this car is a dream — it really does reach 60 mph and more in under four seconds, and it was the smoothest acceleration I’ve ever experienced" said reviewer Deborah Gage of SmartPlanet.com.

The Tesla is a roadster's Roadster though and you won't find much room for lots of groceries and forget about the suitcase for that overnight trip. You'll have to wait for the Fiskar Karma car if that's what you want, but then it's a hybrid that runs on electric when under 50 miles so as to max out its milage range. But then, it's got four days and some room to stretch out in. Right out of the chute though the Fiskar Karma got lots of applause for its distinctive and georgious sporty design.

There's no doubt about it. The interest in electric and more efficient hybrid transportation has finally reached a momentum sufficient to get these remarkable machines built. It kind of makes one think that when GM killed the EV1 electric car, they threw away the early lead they owned all to themselves at the time. Live and learn. I doubt that Tesla or Fiskar will do that.

Friday

Social Media Burglars Can Get You


CBS MoneyWatch.com, from Bnet, has a great article title 6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook posted online here.

Take a look and learn. Lots of folks don't realize that there are thieves out there who watch Facebook, Twitter, and the rest so they can know when you are home and when you are gone, along with lots of other personal things that a lot of people just don't think about. Like for instance your vacation plans and names of family members.

You want privacy? Don't post so much personal info and you might get more privacy.

There have been stories of rip off artists who know seniors' grandchildren's names and then call up pretending to be the police who have arrested their grandchild who needs bail money, etc. There are stories of burglars who watch to see when you twitter about being at Starbucks or your favorite restaurants, so they can break into your home while you are gone, especially if you're in a nearby city where the drive home guarantees a longer absence.

Social media is great but you have to be careful. Take a word to the wise and check out the 6 things you shouldn't talk about on social media, and you can probably come up with some more ideas too.

Thursday

Car Dealer Gets More Justice Than He Counted On

So, when you sell wrecked and badly-rebuilt cars to 52 consumers over several years and rake in $630,000 and all the cars are junk, what do you get? More than you're expecting apparently.

This story comes to us from David Williams, an Ohio expert on the dangers of wrecked-rebuilt cars, as also reported in the Daily Sentinel in Colorado and it explains the dangers to consumers that crooked car dealers can cause when they pawn off wrecked-rebuilt cars to their customers without telling them the truth.

Camden Fortney, owner of Camden Motors in Colorado, had a great scheme. The judge, however, called him a rip off artist who put profits ahead of customer safety and that Fortney sold people rolling pieces of junk.

"This scheme went on for a long time, taking advantage of a lot of people," Judge Flynn said. "I think the scheme you pulled off destroyed confidence in the economoy. I don't want to be driving down the road in a car that's been salvaged. I don't think a lot of people do."

Then he hit him with a total of 53 years in prison. Stark testimony came from one victim who told how Fortney waved a friendly goodbye to her as she drove off his lot with her three children, unaware that they were driving a vehicle that had been totalled.

And Fortney's argument back? He said that if any customer had a complaint, why he was willilng "open" to repairing their vehicle, that not all his customers had defects in their cars, and that no one had had an accident in one of his cars just because it was a salvaged vehicle.

Fortney basically was saying that no one got hurt as he made money off the whole scheme. It's no wonder the judge threw the book at him.

Wrecked cars are ripoffs that cheat consumers. You can learn more about them, and how to avoid them, by clicking here.

If you ended up with a vehicle that has frame damage or was wrecked and you weren't told, you might be a victim of fraud too. Call us at 1.888.331.6422. Helping consumers is what we do. People like Fortney are the reason why.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves, everyday. Since 1978.

Tuesday

Toyota Trashed in Industry Quality Survey


Normally Toyota ranks high in the annual 2010 JD Power "initial quality survey" each year but this year, the massive recalls, including the unintended acceleration mess, cost them big time. Down, down, down they went. Down to 21st place.

At the same time, the US domestic brands scored higher than imports for the first time. The Ford Focus, Dodge Ram 1500 and the Buick Enclave in particular ranked high in quality.

Porsche was number one in name plate rankings and, not surprisingly, Land Rover came in last. Here's some of the top models in model segments:

Compact Premium Sport Car, BMW Z4
Compact Sport Car, Mazda MX-5 Miata
Entry Premium Vehicle, Lincoln MKZ
Large Car, Mercury Montego
Large Premium Car, Cadillac DTS
Midsize Car, Buick LaCrosse
Midsize Pickup, Honda Ridgeline
Midsize Premium Car, Audi A6, S6
Midsize Sport Car, Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Minivan, Ford Freestar
Premium Sport Car, Mercedes SL Class
Sub compact Car, Honda Fit

It's been a long, long time since that many US domestic cars made any quality list at all, let alone the top of the list. It's about time Detroit learned. The real question, of course, is whether Detroit's vehicle went up in quality or if the import quality was so dismal that it merely passed by the domestic brands on the way down. Time will tell.

Monday

Nissan's New Leaf jumps to head of the line

Nissan appears to have a winner with its new Leaf electric vehicle, coming to a Nissan dealer near you in the near future. Some 14,000 consumers have lined up and plunked down a refundable $99 to get on the Leaf waiting list. But what are they really getting?
Amazingly, the Leaf has pulled in prospects mostly from other brands. Estimates are that 90% of the people on the Leaf waiting list are new to the Nissan brand. It proves that being the first to break into the 100-miles-per-charge target long thought by many marketers to be the prime spot for electric cars to achieve broad market sales.

Meanwhile, Nissan is quietly admitting that in most people's driving world, the Leak will likely get only 50 to 70 miles on a charge, according to Automotive News.
While some critics call it foul to tout 100 miles when the real world result is likely to be much less, we frankly think that if you can drive by a gas station without pulling in, that's still good EV progress.

The new Leaf will go on sale in "select" (read, practically nowhere you and I live) markets in December, it's slated for general distribution and national sales in 2012. By then, the EV will have a chance to demonstrate its actual miles-per-charge and reliability. That is something to watch for before you get in the Leaf line too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers solve problems since 1978.

Friday

Where Father's Day Comes From


The post below is with our thanks to Ernest Oriente, for this reminder on where the day came from, on which we honor our fathers.

The idea for an official Father's Day celebration came to a married daughter, seated in a church in Spokane, Washington, attentive to a Sunday sermon on Mother's Day in 1910-two years after the first Mother's Day observance in West Virginia.

The daughter was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd. During the sermon, which extolled maternal sacrifices made for children, Mrs. Dodd realized that in her own family it had been her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, who had sacrificed-raising herself and five sons alone, following the early death of his wife in childbirth. For Mrs. Dodd, the hardships her father had endured on their eastern Washington farm called to mind the unsung feats of fathers everywhere.

Her proposed local Father's Day celebration received strong support from the town's ministers and members of the Spokane YMCA. The date suggested for the festivities, June 5th, Mrs. Dodd's father's birthdays were three weeks away-had to be moved back to the nineteenth when ministers claimed they need extra time to prepare sermons on such a new subject as Father.

Newspapers across the country, already endorsing the need for a national Mother's Day, carried stories about the unique Spokane observance. Interest in Father's Day increased. Among the first notables to support Mrs. Dodd's idea nationally was the orator and political leader William Jennings Bryan, who also backed Mother's Day. Believing that fathers must not be slighted, he wrote to Mrs. Dodd, "too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the relation between parent and child."

Father's Day, however, was not so quickly accepted as Mother's Day.

Members of the all-male Congress felt that a move to proclaim the day official might be interpreted as a self-congratulatory pat on the back.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day. And in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that states, if they wished, should hold their own Father's Day observances. He wrote to the nation's governors that "the widespread observance of this occasion is calculated to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children, and also to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations."

Many people attempted to secure official recognition for Father's Day. One of the most notable efforts was made in 1957, by Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who wrote forcefully to Congress that "Either we honor both our parents, mother and father, or let us desist from honoring either one. But to single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the most grievous insult imaginable."

Eventually, in 1972-sixty-two years after it was proposed-Father's Day was permanently established by President Richard Nixon.

Historians seeking an ancient precedent for an official Father's Day observance have come up with only one: The Romans, every February, honored fathers-but only those deceased.

In America today, Father's Day is the fifth-largest card-sending occasion, with about 85 million greeting cards exchanged, making 85 million fathers smile in appreciation. Don't forget to send a card and make a call. Every day matters, but especially this day.

Thursday

And now, Self-accelerating Chevrolets?

It isn't hard to find runaway Toyota car claims nowadays, but now Chevrolet is joining the runaway pack.

We're handling a runaway 2009 Chevy Traverse case now and in the last few days there are news reports out about a runaway 2008 Chevrolet Equinox too.

A Kentucky woman frantically called 911 as her Chevrolet Equinox increased beyond 90 mph on Interstate 64, with her two young children in the back seat. Applying the brakes did nothing to slow it down, she said. Her panic call went through the vehicle's OnStar system and she was told to try to shift the vehicle into neutral and apply the emergency brake and physically lift the accelerator pedal with her foot, but nothing worked.

With the driver in tears, State troopers eventually stopped the vehicle by pulling in front of the Chevrolet and slowing to a stop. Turns out the stop was just in time, only a few miles from a construction zone with clogged traffic.

The driver, Marlene Taylor, hasn't filed a lawsuit and (like many Toyota owners) is only asking GM to investigate the problem and find the cause. Like Toyota, General Motors eventually responded by saying they could find no evidence to back up the driver's story, according to reports published by local Louisville station WHAS.

You can watch the WHAS local news report and listen to the 911 call by clicking here.

Later, GM reported that they had looked at the vehicle and found that an after-market floor mat on top of the vehicle's floor mat could be the cause and that there were no trouble codes in the vehicle's computer.

Does "no problem found" sound familiar to you, too? How about "could not duplicate"? If you listen to the woman's voice on the news, it's clear that her panic is no joke.

There's no word yet on whether or not GM's explanation is the real cause of this runaway incident. Still, it's important to make sure that you don't put a floor mat on an existing floor mat in your car. And be sure you know how to control and slow down a runaway car if it happens to you. Meanwhile, others are reporting of similar runaway incidents.

Tuesday

Is Your Home Improvement Contractor Bonded?


Many cities require local home improvement companies to be bonded so that homeowners are protected. Now comes the surprise. Some of those cities don't bother to even ask about it anymore. The result? Homeowners can lose tens of thousands of dollars because city officials just don't bother to enforce the law.

Home improvement companies are often very thinly funded and have no assets behind them other than the pickup truck the guy arrives in when he shows up at your home. Many are not even trained to do the work you are paying them for. That can lead to contractors who take the money and leave the homeowner stuck, often with a job not finished or not done right or not even started.

Think it can't happen to you? The problem is so common that there's even a Tv show about it, "Holmes on Homes" on the HGTV cable channel.

You can get some great advice on that show, but what about the people who already get paid to protect you? I'm talking about the city officials who get paid with your tax dollars. The same ones who are supposed to enforce the home improvement company licensing and bonding requirements that many cities have.

Some of those same city officials have the power to shut down home improvement operators because they don't comply with the mandatory requirement that they be bonded if they are going to do home improvement work in your town.

You should care because a bond is the only thing that may protect you from the very fly-by-night shady operators that often are the basis for Holmes on Homes, where they warn that "the world is full of shady contractors who take shortcuts, use shoddy building practices or employ a band-aid approach to repair work, often leaving homeowners in dangerous situations or out a ton of money."

Well, it turns out that some cities have decided to skip that part of the law that says home improvement operators have to be bonded. They just let them run free and easy. Okay, let's name names.

The City of Dayton stopped requiring home improvement bonds three years ago. The law didn't change. It still says they have to be bonded, so far as we can tell. But apparently the city doesn't even bother to check anymore. They stopped enforcing the law 3 years ago.

That leaves Dayton consumers an easy mark for con artists and ripoffs. For some easy tips on how to protect yourself, head on over to Holmes on Homes, http://www.hgtv.com/.

We don't usually make recommendations like this but, frankly, right now he may be better protection against rip off home improvement contractors that your local city officials.