Friday

Want a cell phone that recharges just sitting in your pocket? It exists ...


We could spend our time talking about the Japanese earthquake, etc, but everyone else is doing that so let's talk about something that might more directly affect you. How about a cell phone that doesn't need to plug in to recharge itself? It exists and it's built by Nokia.

Called the Nokia E-Cu concept phone (and you thought concept cars were the only concept thing made?). It's slim and easy to use. Best of all, it recharges from any heat source at all, including your own body heat.

In fact, anytime it is in an area that is between 86 degrees and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, it starts charging itself. So, out by the pool on a sunny day? Might as well charge up your phone while you catch some rays.

And it looks cool too. It has a shimmering copper coating that just oozes class. The back has etchings on it that increase the surface area for recharging apparently. It's beyond cool.

And it would get rid of an estimated 51,000 tons of waste caused by phone chargers that people already throw away. In fact, it could get rid of all chargers. That's cool too.

Only one problem. Nokia made their concept phone but they don't have any plan to actually build it for the marketplace. Guess they have a big investment in some battery company somewhere?

Thursday

Chrysler Tweet Says Nobody in Detroit "knows how to f****** drive" and someone gets fired...

Someone at Chrysler's ad agency, in charge of its social media, went online at Chrysler brand's Twitter account and blasted out an f-bomb tweet to its followers saying "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f****** drive" according to a published report from AutoNews.

The ad agency was promptly fired and the tweet quickly deleted and another one put in its placed apologizing.

Chrysler apparently became aware of it when a reporter called and asked if the company manager of electronic communications (Ed Garsten) had "seen any good tweets lately." A quick check and he say the tweet in question. Later, he blogged that "the tweet denigrated drivers in Detroit and used the fully spelled-out F-word."

The ad agency, New Media Strategies, says it fired the responsible employee, but that didn't enable them to keep the Chrysler account that they had for almost exactly one year before the f-tweet incident.

Although some pundits thought Chrysler's firing the agency was a heavy-handed drastic over-reaction, Chrysler isn't losing sleep over its quick response. Chrysler's Ed Gartsen said the company needed to keep its "momentum" going and not to let anything slow them down, adding "it's what we do."

No matter what one might think of the whole Chrysler F-bomb debacle, one thing is clear. Those tweets you think are coming from Chrysler? They aren't. They were just being pumped out by some paid dragons at the ad agency all along. If Chrysler had been doing its own tweets, maybe it wouldn't have happened.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to drive a lemon.

Wednesday

Buick is outselling Lexus and coming up very close to BMW sales - and they can't believe it.

After GM filed bankruptcy it starting shutting down the non-profit model lines and a lot of folks thought Buick was on the hit list. Not us.

First Buick quality has always been pretty good and often better than Cadillac. Second, Buick was selling tons of cars in a fast emerging car market - China. Indeed, while Buick was busy becoming the number 1 car in China, it was sliding down a slippery and fast slope to oblivion here in the states.

So when it came time to slice off the bleeding money losing makes inside GM, Buick wasn't even on the list of suspects. If GM had given up Buick, it would have given up on the Chinese market - and they sell way too many Buicks there to do that.

But what amazes folks is the sales slam on the numbers that is happening now. Last month, Buick outsold Lexus and that just was not conceivable a year ago (or less). In February Buick sales skyrocketed by 73%. At the same time Lexus barely made a .2% gain - yes, you see it right, 1/5 of 1%.

And Buick was only 800 vehicles behind the BMW brand in sales numbers.

If you've got a Buick, chances are it isn't a lemon. But if it is, and your dealer doesn't take care of you, call us. Getting rid of lemon cars is what we do. Everyday. Since 1978.

Monday

One Million Dollars a Day is what it costs to use the dollar bill in your pocket instead of using a dollar coin

We blogged the other day about the wastefulness of the government printing one dollar bills instead of making one dollar coins, which last easily ten times longer than the paper does. There's more to the story.

It turns out that in a recent poll only 19% of the public was in favor of replacing all one dollar bills with one dollar coins until they learned that doing so would save American taxpayers over $522 million every year - then the number jumped to 65% wanting it to happen.

Still, it's all just an estimate of what the savings would be, but Shawn Smeallie with the pro-coin group Dollar Coin Alliance, noted that "The truth is nobody is quite sure exactly how much the US taxpayer and business and to save by making this switch - when Canada moved to a dollar coin two decades ago, savings were more than ten times the initial government estimates."

Since the first of 2011, they calculate that the government has lost over $90 in savings that could have occurred by switching to the dollar coin. And over 3 billion dollar bills are shredded each year because they are worn out. So we use short-life paper and then shred it all and throw it away? The US government is literally throwing away money.

So if the Canadian savings is any example, a serious amount of change could be saved by making the change. You can find out more about the whole thing at www.DollarCoinAlliance.org online. You and I don't like to waste our money. Isn't it about time the government acted that way too?

Sunday

Working Cars for Working Families website can help you avoid being ripped off.

This new website is sponsored by the National Consumer Law Center and has lots of tips and advice and articles that can help you protect yourself and get the best deal for you and your family. Having a safe and reliable car is critical to most working families and this web site can help you avoid dangers in the car dealer marketplace and make good financial decisions for you and your family.

Low income families can find programs that can help get a car or help you donate one. Click here. When you need a car and can't afford high prices and high interest rates, there may be an answer to help you keep (or get) your job.

Industry statistics say that more than 70% of consumers finance their car at the dealership and that the financing is the dealer's biggest profit center. There are articles to help you watch out for high pressure sales tactics and get your best deal. Click here.

How do you know that used car is safe? They've got a page that deals with tips on avoiding dangerous and unreliable vehicles that can harm you or cost you big bucks. Click here.

And if your car is repossessed, rightly or wrongly, there are laws to protect consumers too. Click here to learn more. Just buying your car isn't the whole story. You can learn more about your "repo" rights here.

You can even watch or listen to special seminars and media presentations to learn more about how some car dealers take advantage of people - so you can learn what to watch out for so you don't waste your money. Things like dealer "loan packing" and kickbacks that can make your car loan more costly to you. Click here to listen or watch some of these online presentations that can make you a smarter consumer.

The National Consumer Law Center has even posted online two of their best brochures for easy viewing, How to Avoid Auto Sales Fraud and How to Buy a Used Car. Click here to see the current brochure list and download one for easy reading.

The Center's staff, John Van Alst, Carolyn Carter, Jon Sheldon, and Jillian McLaughlin have done a great job of making these very valuable tips available for working families everywhere. All four of them have a long history with the problems that bad cars can cause American families.

This web site is a great place for you and your family to find out how to protect yourself when you make one of the biggest family purchases. Check it out! www.WorkingCarsForWorkingFamilies.org

The National Consumer Law Center has long been the nation's leading nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. For over 40 years they have been working to make the marketplace fair for consumers. Working Cars for Working Families is just the latest example of the great work they do, protecting consumers everywhere.

A big thanks to the Annie E. Casey Foundation too, for their very generous support on the Center's project. The Foundation does some great work helping disadvantaged children build a better future for themselves. It was founded by the family of one of the founders of UPS, which recognizes that helping the least of us, helps all of us.

Saturday

Changing the Paper Would Save Gov't Billions just by getting rid of dollar bills


About six months ago we blogged how lowering the federal deficit could happen by half a billion dollars if the federal government would just stop printing dollar bills and people starting using the dollar coin instead. Well, it turns out we were wrong. It's actually a lot more than that.

There's a new federal government study out that says the amount saved would be 5.5 billion dollars because a coin can last for decades but most dollar bills have a lifespan of only about a hear and a half. The study came to the "duh" realization that prior attempts to get people to use the dollar coin have largely failed because the government just kept right on printing the dollar bills too - and people just don't like to change what they are used to.

In Canada and the United Kingdom both of those countries stopping printing the paper version of the coin and after a couple of years, the public accepted it as part of life.

There's no rational reason to be using dollar bills anymore because, like they say on tv, don't waste your money - and don't waste your government's money either.

Good Magazine has a great article on their web site that delves into the wasting of money in the paper vs coin argument, and it's well worth the read by clicking here.

So, if you really want to help the government save money, stop using one dollar bills. And if you really want your elected officials to help save the government save money, tell them to stop printing one dollar bills. Once that happens, then we can start working on the pennies too.

Tuesday

2010 Had Most Recalls in Years, 20 Million + Cars & Trucks, See List Here

The massive recalls by Toyota and others have made 2010 the busiest year for recalls in more than half a decade - over 20 million vehicles recalled in the US alone in 2010 according to federal safety investigator's statistics.

Just the six largest suppliers of automobiles have recalled more than 19 million vehicles in about 600 recall campaigns - the highest number since 2004, when the industry set a record with 30.8 million recalled vehicles in one year.

Here's the list of top recalling motor vehicle manufacturers in 2010, by Make, Number of Recall Programs (each program can cover multiple model and year vehicles), and the Number of Vehicles Recalled:

Toyota 18 7,100,000
General Motors 21 4,000,000
Honda 15 2,400,000
Nissan 16 2,100,000
Chrysler 17 1,600,000
Ford 9 581,000
VW 2 393,000
BMW 15 288,000
Mazda 3 243,000
Others ? 1,595,000

Oddly enough, while many industry pundits are touting higher levels of quality, the quantity of vehicles recalled for dangerous defects seems to be rising too.

It's certainly seems to be true that the number of recalls from the recent past can be a sign or a problem vehicle model that you may want to avoid. Automotive.com has talked about this before and it's worth taking a look at their "least reliable cars matrix" to see what models you may want to avoid.

Meanwhile, Toyota says that it has repaired most of the cars and trucks that were on its recall lists issued during the last year, according to MSNBC news reports. That's good, but the whole experience has cost Toyota dearly in terms of customer loyalty and reputation, to say nothing for the multimillion dollar fine it had to pay.

So, check the list above and do some serious research before you put down your hard earned money on a new or used car that may just be a lemon. And if you get one, don't forget that getting rid of lemon cars and lemon trucks is what we do. Like we always say, life's too short to drive a lemon.

Consumer Reports' Top Vehicles for the Money includes


Each year Consumer Reports April issue of its magazine releases the list of best vehicles for the money - and the worst. Best of Value, you could call it.

Based on a mix of how well a vehicle performs in the magaine's tests and also the anticipated reliability of the model line, it's beginning to look like the foreign manufacturers are always going to be taking the top spots.

The message? Detroit still hasn't been able to unseat whoever is at #1. This year it's Honda.

On a company-wide approach, Honda is in first place for value, closely followed by Subaru and then Toyota, who has been upended by its seemingly neverending parade of recalls and bad press. Each of those brands includes their luxury version ("Toyota" includes its Lexus and Scion brands, for instance).

Next comes Volvo and then the first American-built brand, Ford. And worst? That dubious honor falls to Chrysler this year. But just ahead of it are General Motors, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen.

Now, the specific models ranked for being best value.

Best small car value is the Honda Fit Sport while the worst one is the Chevy Aveo5.

Best family car value is the Toyota Prius while the worst is the Chevy Impala.

Best upscale sedan value is the Acura TSX while Buick Lucerne hits the bottom.

Best luxury sedan value is the Hyundai Genesis. That's right. It's a Hyundai. They've come a long way baby. And Hyundai vehicles even look good - a far cry from the ugly things they first shipped to the US market. And the magazine ranks the BMW 750Li as the worst in value luxury sedan.

Best sporty car value is the Mini Cooper while Porsche 911 Carrera S is the worst. You couldn't get much further apart on the sports car spectrum than that.

The best value in a wagon or minivan model is the Mazda 5 Grand Touring while Kia's Sedona EX pulls up in the rear.

The best small SUV value is the Toyota RAV4. American-branded Jeep Liberty Sport falls at the bottom.

And last, the best value in a midsize SUV is the Hyundai Santa Fe GLS while the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara trails the pack.

Consumer Reports meanwhile tagged the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Avalanche as the best sporty car and pickup truck.

But if you check out the price and the cost of owning a car, according to Consumer Reports this is the best and worst values for your money.

Now, on a "lemon" scale, we see more Ford truck lemons than any other kind. There are lots of F-series trucks out there and apparently lots of them have defects.

It used to be that Kia was known as the Yugo of its day but ever since they teamed up with Hyundai, the styling and the quality have only climbed. Still, when we look at the worst value list from Consumer Reports, we can't say that any of the cars on it are the most common lemons we see.

So think it over before you go car shopping next time. In these economic times, getting the best value is important. More than anything else, what the the Consumer Reports list says is that price may have very little to do with getting a good value for your money.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to drive a lemon.