Gift Cards and the Law

The Holiday that millions of people got this year? Gift cards. About 80% of all consumers bought a gift card for Holiday giving. It's are a billion dollar business.  And there's a law for that in most states, Ohio included.
 There's an Ohio Gift Card law and a Federal Gift Card law to protect you if something goes wrong. Here's some important tips on Gift Cards and the Law.

Q.:       Why are there two laws that cover gift cards?
A.:       The state law was enacted several years before the federal law and each law covers different gift cards in different circumstances, with some overlapping coverage too. Because gift cards may sometimes be used in different states, a federal law was also needed to protect consumers who purchase and receive gift cards.
Q.:       What do the gift card laws do?
A.:       Under Ohio’s law, a gift card must maintain its full value for at least two full years from the date it was issued. The Ohio law also prohibits retailers from charging service or other fees for two years from the date it was issued. The Federal Gift Card Law only covers store issued gift cards and bank issued gift cards, but it requires those cards to have full value for at least 5 years. But when you buy a store gift card at a third party location (called “card malls”) the federal law does not cover the gift card – only the Ohio law.
Q.:       Do these laws apply to all gift cards?
A.:       No.  The Ohio law does not apply to cards given as part of a customer loyalty program, cards sold by non-profit organizations, cards given to employees by their employers or gift cards that are usable at any unaffiliated sellers of goods or services, such as Visa or Mastercard, etc., or to prepaid telephone calling cards. The Federal law only applies to store issued and bank issued cards and to gift cards that are freely given away as a promotion.
Q.:       Can I be charged a fee if I don’t use my gift card for a while?
A.:       If your card is covered by the Ohio law only, then you do not have to pay any fees for at least two years. If the gift card is covered by the Federal law, then any fees have to be clearly disclosed on the card itself or with its packaging and no fee can be imposed unless the card has not been used for at least a year.
Q.:       What if an Ohio store breaks the law and does not honor the full value of the card?
A.:       You can go to small claims court to ask for compensation of no more than the original value of the card, plus court costs and attorney fees.  In addition, if the judge rules the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act has been violated too, then you may even recover up to three times the full amount of the card plus costs and attorney fees.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves Since 1978


Car Dealers Hit Bottom in Honesty Poll

Gallup has finished its latest survey poll of the perceived honesty and ethical standards of professions and, surprise, surprise, car salespeople are back at the very bottom of the list again.

The survey was completed last money and rated almost two dozen professions on a five pooint honesty and ethics scale. And at the top? Nurses.

The Honesty Poll
Gallup started this "honesty poll" almost 40 years ago and car salespeople have always been at the bottom.

Last year, though, members of Congress tied with them at the bottom of the list, as being among the most dishonest. This year they managed to climb one notch out of the pit, leaving car dealers behind all by themselves.

Car Dealers at bottom of "Honest and Ethical" Gallup Survey
While lawyers have always taken a beating too, this year they sit on the scale at about one third the way up the list, just behind state governors. But not all lawyers are thought of in a lowly way.

At a recent consumer rights conference, one lawyer stepped into an elevator with a vacationing family and when they saw his nametag ("NACA") they asked what the group was and when he told them it was the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the daughter said "Oh, you're one of the good guys."

NACA members do more good for consumers than any other professional group, advocating the protection of consumer rights before state and federal officials and regulators every day. And appearing in Courts all across the country, standing up for consumers who have been victimized by predatory mortgage lenders and dishonest merchants.

Not all car dealers are dishonest and not all lawyers are either. And NACA members are always on your side.

Burdge Law Office
NACA Members for Over 15 years


FTC again waters down your used car buyer rights

The FTC Buyers Guide can be misleading
The Federal Trade Commission is at it again. They still won't tell car dealers to speak the truth about the used cars they are selling to the public. But they could - if they wanted to. Here's your chance to make them to do it.

The FTC created the administrative law that requires car dealers to post a Buyers Guide form on the window of every used car that is for sale. The idea was great when it first came up back in the 1970's. They argued about it until the law finally was approved and went into effect in 1985.

Why does it matter to you? Because what is on that sticker becomes part of your sales contract when you buy a used car anywhere in the US.

Now the FTC is considering the first major changes to be made to the Buyers Guide form. As it is now, the car dealer has to disclose if you are buying the vehicle with a warranty or "as is" plus, if you get a warranty, what it will cover, how long it will last, and what (if anything) you have to pay to get warranty work done. That's fair. Every buyer should know if the dealer is going to stand behind the car they are selling, right?

Well, do you think every buyer should also know about the car's defects and malfunctions in the car that the dealer already knows about? Or should the car dealer be allowed to hide that from the buyer?

For example, if the car dealer knows the used car has an engine that is failing and probably won't last another 5,000 miles, shouldn't the car dealer have to disclose that? After all, it could easily cost $8,000 or more to replace the engine in many cars. Well, the FTC argued about that and decided, "no - car dealers don't have to disclose known defects in the cars they sell." Sort of like, take the money and run.

That's just not right.

You can stop the FTC from letting car dealers hide the truth by telling them so and it's easy. You can do it online by filling out the "public comment" form online at - Don't let car dealers hide the truth from you.

The proposed law has other problems too and you can read about more of them at the Americans for Financial Reform website.
You can learn more about your used car lemon law rights at

Protecting Consumers
Since 1978


Where the Best New Car and Truck Deals Are Right Now

Economy Getting Good - New Car Sales Up Again
You can tell the national economy is getting better, car dealers across the country are saying, because people are buying more cars than at any time in the last two years plus - in fact for 27 months in a row the sales numbers have done nothing but increase. And sales are headed for an annual number that hadn't been hit in four and a half years.

In fact, the numbers are so good that on average one new car is sold in the US once every 30 seconds. And that is in spite of Hurricane Sandy's wide impact on East Coast sales numbers.

What that means for you is that dealers who have a hot model line in stock are not going to be very negotiable on prices because they know the demand is up.

Honda sales were up 38.9% over the numbers for a year ago, so don't look for any bargain price deals at your local Honda dealer.

Toyota is still doing less on its numbers, though, and so is Ford. GM is just lukeware with a decrease in market share but with a slight rise in sales numbers. You should be able to get a decent discount at those three brand stores.

Chrysler though? Their sales numbers wen tup for the 32nd month in a row with a hefty 14.4% jump in the last month alone - probably no great deals to be had for you at your local Chrysler dealership.

Nissan? Their market share was modest in the first place and dropped by another 5% from the number a year ago. Maybe they are getting desperate for sales?

But VW and Audi - forget it. They had a huge gain in market share - highest in over 30 years. But VW still struggles for decent numbers.

Bottom line? If you are looking for a good new car dealer this Holiday Season, shop carefully. Deals still exist, especially in the light truck market. So don't waste your money.

And if you get a lemon? Just call us on our toll free lemon law line at 1.888.331.6422. We squash those regularly.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemons everyday.
It's what we do.

The Etch a Sketch Window Etch Ripoff Scam

Window Etching - is it really "theft protection" or is it just another car dealer scam?

If you pay hundreds of dollars to a car dealer and you could get the same thing on the internet for less than $20 - which do you think is the better deal? And is it a good deal for you when it costs the dealer less than $10 and they charge you $300? You could be getting ripped off big time.

It's one of the great ripoffs of the decade - the window etch scam that some car dealers call "Etch Theft Guard" - we call it the etch a sketch scam.

Consumer advocates say window etching may be worthless
Car dealers often claim that window etching is theft protection or is like theft insurance because it might give you an extra few thousand dollars or so it if fails to prevent your car from being stolen. The truth is that a few numbers scratched on your car window are not likely to even be seen by a thief, let alone deter a car thief.

Dealers also sell the etch scam with the claim that the etched number enables police to track the car down and find the owner - that's baloney. Every motor vehicle has a unique serial number put on it by the manufacturer.

You can see your car's "vehicle identification number" by looking at the bottom of the windshield in front of the driver or at the tag installed on the driver side door jamb. The same number is planted in numerous secret places on the car - where only the police know where to look to find it. If your car is stolen it is that factory VIN number that the police will use to find out if the vehicle is stolen and track down the actual owner.

Worse yet, in some cases we are now handling against one Dayton Ohio car dealer network, the internal dealer documents show a dealer cost of less than $10 for their $300 retail charge window etching and they are even installing it on cars that have real factory-installed alarm systems and theft deterrent devices. Folks, you don't need windows etched if you have a real alarm system already. So why do some folks end up with it?

Some dealers apparently aren't telling the customer about the window etch theft guard that is being charged to them in their sales paperwork. One buyer said in her court papers that she wasn't even told about the etching or the charge for it that a Beavercreek Ohio area Cadillac dealer added into her deal without her knowing what was going on. Another angry buyer said in his court papers that he also wasn't told about the etching charges that a Miamisburg Ohio area Chevrolet added into his sales papers without him knowing it.

This car dealership chain apparently doesn't stop there either. Their Beavercreek Ohio area Mazda dealership is accused by another customer of slipping the etch theft guard charge into their contract without telling them about it either.

The etch theft guard problem is apparently so rampant that numerous lawsuits have been filed against Miami Valley car dealerships in the last few months. Don't fall victim to the etch a sketch window etching ripoff.

Be careful what a car dealer does to you so you don't waste your money.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves
from Car Dealer Scams Every Day.
It's what we do.


Toyota Prius Recall Joins 2.8 Million Recalled Toyota Vehicles

This just in from The Detroit After announcing its biggest single recall ever just last month, October 2012, Toyota now admits to more problems that will result in the recall of anotehr 2.8 million vehicles, including the Prius hybrid models.

2001 Toyota Prius Recall
2002 Toyota Prius Recall
2003 Toyota Prius Recall
2004 Toyota Prius Recall
2005 Toyota Prius Recall
2006 Toyota Prius Recall
2007 Toyota Prius Recall
2008 Toyota Prius Recall
2009 Toyota Prius Recall

2009 Toyota Prius recalled for steering system defects.
Last month more than 7.43 million Toyota vehicles were recalled. Toyota wanted to be able to announce that it was the world's best selling auto manufacturer but instead it announced the largest recall in the world during the last 16 years.

While Honda is the most recalled manufacturer in the US, Toyota is fast taking over the top spot for quantity of recalled vehicles, regaining the terrible title it held back in 2010.

The newest recall comes from a water pump problem and a steering shaft defect, which can cause steering problems. Reportedly the recall will also extend to the Toyota Corolla.

More to the story can be found here.

Got a lemon Toyota Prius?
Want a new Toyota Prius or your money back?
Get Justice


Is Big Money Buying Your Vote Today?

With so much "new" money being thrown at the election this year, one thing is very clear.

This will be the year when we all learn whether or not the 1% can buy an election with their money. Whether it is true that if you say it often enough and loud enough, people will believe it - whatever "it" may be.

Or, if the people who vote are smart enough, and tenacious enough, to ignore all the negative advertising and just figure out on their own who the best person is for the job of helping them live their lives every day and fulfill their dreams for their families tomorrow.

In one country we know of, by law all the advertising stops two weeks before the election. All the rhetoric dies down. Calmness tries to return. Rational thinking has a chance to take over.

Given the literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that the "superpacs" have thrown behind the politicians they want us to elect for ourselves, but really just to help them out, shutting off the advertising machine is not that bad an idea. Calm, rational thinking sanity would have a chance to return.

No one can be sure what this election cycle will prove. Not today. Not in the near future either. But one thing is for sure. Only a politician can say that corporations are people. They are not. They are a legalistic imaginary creation. They are not a bad thing. They are not a good thing. They are just a thing.

Legalistic imaginary Things should not be able to buy our vote. We hope they don't buy your vote today.

Burdge Law Office
Helping ordinary people protect themselves everyday.


PayPal Just Ripped You Off

PayPal rips off your rights
PayPal Rips Off Your Rights
If you are like millions of other folks out there, you probably have used PayPal online. The idea is great, but the details just ripped you off today - they stole your legal rights and you probably didn't even know it.

Most business people are honest and hard-working. Some, though, are more interested in getting the money than being honest about it. Honest business people don't steal from their customers and aren't afraid of explaining themselves in Court because they know they didn't do anything wrong. It's the crooks you have to watch out for. They steal your money and look for ways to steal your legal rights too. And even honest businesses can be tempted.

PayPal is clever. You can use it to pay for online shopping at "millions of online stores" without sharing your "financial information" which must mean credit card numbers, passwords, etc, we suppose. You can transfer money to friends too, using PayPal. And they promise to keep your financial info "private and protected." But you pay for that privacy in ways you probably don't realize.

Beginning Nov. 1, 2012 you pay to use PayPal by giving up your legal rights against them. That's right. They make money off you and you can no longer take them to court over anything they might do to you in the process, including an "accidental" stealing of your money with false or erroneous charges or overbilling to your credit card.

Can that kind of problem happen to you? Who knows. But one thing is for sure. You will be at their mercy on trying to fix any problem you may have with them from now on.

But maybe not. If you send PayPal a letter by snailmail (that's right, the old post office way) BEFORE December 1 that says you want to "opt out of the company's agreement to arbitrate and its prohibition on class actions" then you still will have the right to go to court if something bad goes wrong and its PayPal's fault. You can read the whole story here (click here) where Washington Post Consumer Reporter Caroline Mayer has explained what they (and also EBAY) are doing to you.

You see, PayPal and eBay have sent out one of those "updates" to their user agreements, much like the ones you get to your credit cards every once in awhile. These are usually meaningless changes that don't amount to much. And most people don't even bother to read them. And the big business companies count on exactly that - the fact that most folks don't read them.

This time though, they changed the rules of the game. They stuck in a binding arbitration clause that says no matter what they do to you, you can't take them to Court. Gee, if there never had a problem, because they were not doing anything wrong, then why are they suddenly afraid of having to go to Court and explain that they aren't doing anything wrong?

So, you think it's that they pay too much out to their lawyers to fight "frivolous" lawsuits? Ask yourself this: when was the last time you heard of a lawsuit against PayPal? Yeah, right. We're lawyers, and we have never heard of one at all.

What is so bad about binding arbitration, you say? Plenty. It is a private system (no public courtrooms) that is paid for in large part by the businesses that use it (so who do you think they listen to?) that is paid to decide what those businesses should do for you if they did something wrong to you (does the fox guarding the henhouse sound familiar yet?).

PayPal and eBay have joined an ever-growing trend by big business to take away consumer's legal rights in this sneaky fashion. For over 200 years our legal system has protected regular everyday people from being abused by big companies by holding them accountable in a courtroom. Just knowing that a public courtroom is out there can curb the sometimes abusive "get their money first" philosphy that some business people live by.

And what is wrong with stopping class action lawsuits? Plenty there too. When big business rips off fifty cents from a customer, you think it's no big deal? There was a baby food company a few years back that was selling apple juice in baby jars that was just colored sugar water. The closest it got to apples was if you were sitting with your baby under an apple tree when you gave it to them. Fifty cents here and fifty cents there and pretty soon you're talking millions of dollars - and that's what it was. No one would have sued over fifty cents (and you think the baby food company never thought of that?), but a class action brought by one angry mother got their money back.

And then there was the insurance company out in California that actually had a policy of denying every insurance claim that was below a "minor" dollar amount, including completely valid claims, because they had calculated that no one would sue them over it. And no one did until one policy holder found out why his claim was denied and fought them over the principle of it.

Courtrooms and class actions have a role in our society and in our legal system. They protect the little guy from the big guys. Without that protection, greed can run amok when money is more important than morality. And, let's face it, with some people it is.

Most business people are honest and hard-working. Some, though, are more interested in getting the money than being honest about it. Honest business people don't steal from their customers and aren't afraid of explaining themselves in Court because they know they didn't do anything wrong. It's the crooks you have to watch out for. They steal your money and look for ways to steal your legal rights too. And even honest businesses can be tempted.

If you want to learn about about why Arbitration Sucks, take a look at

If you want to opt out of PayPal's new "you can't sue us" rules, Caroline suggests (and we agree) you must send the downloadable form created by The Consumerist website to them, postmarked no later than Dec. 1, to: Litigation Dept., 2211 North First St., San Jose, CA 95131 - and be sure to actually sign the letter too or they won't count it. Of course they might say they never received it so be sure that you keep a copy of it for your file. And if you really are concerned, you might want to send the letter by certified mail return receipt requested - so you can prove it later if you have to.

Caroline Mayer's article gives some other good tips on how to protect yourself from losing your rights and you should read those at her online article on the Great PayPal Legal Rights Rip Off by clicking here.

Be careful out there. Protect yourself. Don't let them steal your money. And don't let them steal your rights either.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves for Over 30 Years


Harley Recalls Bikes for Parts Falling Off Danger

The first blog we ever wrote about was the problem with Harley. Well, some things never change.

Harley Davidson has announced a recall of 2012 and 2013 VRSCDX motorcycles. It seems that the license plate bracket can fall off. That can end up hitting the rear tire. That can spin it around. That can make it damage the rear brake line. That can leave the rider with a dangerous brake failure. You can just see it happening.

Worse yet, even though they know it's a problem, harley won't even start to tell consumers about it for at least another week. If you own a Harley, be careful out there. Here's the recall.

Vehicle Make / Model:     Model Year(s):
     H-D VRSCDX     2012-2013
Manufacturer: HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTOR COMPANY Report Receipt Date: OCT 18, 2012
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 12V503000 NHTSA Action Number: N/A

Component: EQUIPMENT
Potential Number of Units Affected: 2,798   
2012 Harley Davidson VRSCDX Recalled

 Harley-Davidson Motor Company (Harley-Davidson) is recalling all model year 2012 and certain model year 2013 VRSCDX motorcycles manufactured from June 14, 2011, through August 1, 2012. The license plate bracket assembly's mounting screws may loosen and the assembly may separate from the rear fender. This condition may lead to contact with the rear tire which could cause the license plate bracket to rotate, possibly damaging the rear brake line.   

 If the license plate bracket contact with the rear brake line remains undetected, it may affect rear brake performance, increasing the risk of a crash, which could lead to injury or death of the rider.

Own a lemon Harley Davidson VRSCDX motorcycle?
Want a new Harley Davidson bike?
Get Justice


Sudden Ford Fiesta Recall for Airbag Problems

Airbag Problems Force Recall of Ford Fiesta

Ford Motor Co. says it will recall 154,000 of its Fiesta subcompacts due to a problem with the vehicle’s airbag system, according to The Detroit

2011 and other Ford Fiesta vehicles recalled for airbags
Apparently the side impact airbags will not deploy in a crash if the front passenger seat is empty even though it should.

The Fiesta recall covers the Mexican-made model line built between Nov. 3, 2009 and Sept. 21, 2012 - which shows you how long the defect has existed and how long it took for Ford to realize it.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves, everyday.

Honda CRV Fire Danger Recall in Ohio

Honda is recalling almost 270,000 CRV passenger cars that may burn up even while parked in your garage. This Honda recall is very serious. Turns out there is a power window switch that can fail or melt and if it does then it could ignite and start a fire. The danger is so severe that Honda is saying don't drive your Honda CR-V until the defect is fixed.

Vehicle Make / Model:     Model Year(s):
     HONDA CR-V     2002-2006
Manufacturer: Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) Report Receipt Date: OCT 05, 2012
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 12V486000 NHTSA Action Number: EA11004

Potential Number of Units Affected: 268,655

2006 Honda CR-V Recalled for self igniting fire danger
 Honda is recalling certain model year 2002-2006 CR-V passenger vehicles, manufactured from February 19, 2002, through July 28, 2006. The driver-side power window switch may fail or melt.   

 If the switch fails, it could overheat, smoke, and cause a fire. A switch failure, and a fire, could occur even if the vehicle is not in use. As a precaution, owners are advised to park outside until the recall repair has been performed.

Own a lemon Honda CRV?
Want a new Honda CR-V or your money back?
Get Justice

Who Sold the Most Cars in September?

It matters because it tells consumers what is happening in the market place. Knowing that can help you get your best deal in your local dealer's showroom.

Dealers who didn't sell much will have more inventory than they want and the dealing should favor consumers. Dealers whose brands outsold all the others are likely to be less concerned about making sales right now because they know they have a "hot" product with lots of buyers out there, so the deals may not be so good for you when you shop at Toyota for instance - they had the highest percentage increase in business, way over anyone else last month.

First of all, more light vehicles (cars and light trucks) were sold in September 2012 than at any time since the Spring of 2008 - a dramatic turn around from then to now and widely considered to be clear evidence that the economy is actually much better than at any point in the last four years.

One surprise is Ford, whose market share is down to 14.4%, which is the lowest for the company since August 2009. That may signal better deals at your Ford dealer because they have to pull the business out of the doldrums.

Ford was outsold by Toyota, which showed a 41.5% increase over last year's numbers.

Honda sales are up 31% over last year's numbers, so don't expect any great retail deals there.

Hyundai sales increased too, up 15.3%.

BMW? Up by a mere 3.5% for the month and on the road for a 7% annual increase over last year's numbers, While Mercedes is headed for a 15% annual increase in sales. VW says it sales are up 34.4% while Audi said sales rose 26.5% for the month.

Nissan dropped 1.1%, so buyers may find some anxious salespeople at their local Nissan store.

Meanwhile, GM says it had low September sales but hasn't released its numbers yet and Chrysler says it had a 11.7% increase, which was the best for them than at any time in the last five years.

If you are in the market for a new car or truck, shop carefully. Price comparison is more important now than every. And don't sign anything that you aren't very sure of.

The 5 Finger Close can cost you thousands
And watch out for the 5 Finger Close that can cost you thousands of dollars out of your pocket. That's a tricky technique of sales fraud used by some car dealers to get you to sign sales papers without you realizing that the numbers on the papers have been increased above without you knowing it.

For instance, the dealership Finance Manager holds the stack of sales papers still with one hand planted in the middle of the top document while pointing to the signature line with the other hand and asking you to just "sign here and here and here," etc., using their hand to cover up an area of the sales document where the numbers appear (that they don't want you to see).

It can appear to you that the Finance Manager is being helpful in holding the page still but in reality the technique is used to deceive the customer into believing that the numbers, such as the price, etc, are the same as what was talked about earlier when, in reality, they are not. It is sometimes also called a five finger spread or five finger push.

You can learn more car dealer slang terms by reading our Car Deaelrship Dictionary of Terms - just click here.

Be careful out there - and if you get ripped off or end up with a lemon, just remember. Fixing that for consumers is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping people protect themselves, everyday.


Ford Escape Fire Danger Results in Recall

Ford Escape Recalled for Fire Danger
Ford's Escape utility vehicle has been hit with its third recall in two months. This time it was for a faulty part installation that could lead to a vehicle fire.

A prior recall on the Ford Escape also involved a fire danger.

This time the recall involves 7,600 2013 Ford Escape vehicles fitted with the 1.6 liter "Eco Boost" engine, the majority of which have been sold in the US and only about 1,500 sold in Canada.

Reports are that part of the engine was improperly installed and could come apart, resulting in an immediate loss of engine coolant. That, in turn, can cause a fire if the fluid hits a hot engine part.

Got a lemon Ford Escape?
Want a new Ford Escape or your money back?
Get Justice

Lexus Goes High Tech

2013 Lexus LS 450 with Pre-Collision System
Lexus has historically always had a very high level of reliability and luxury, from day one. It remains one of the very, very few manufacturers where we can say we just hardly ever see a lemon. That may change as they break new ground with high tech add-on's to their models that add a new layer of engineering complexity.

The next model year LS 450, while not a major remake of the outside design lines for the model, has a few new techno-improvements under the hood (and elsewhere).

For starters, there is an Advanced Pre-Collision System that they are saying is the most advanced system in the entire motor vehicle industry - capable of bringing a vehicle to a full stop with no driver assist whenever it detects a pedestrian or vehicle in its path. The current version of the systrem only slows it down.

Using an advanced radar sysstem in the front of the car, and a "stereo" camera behind the rear view mirror, it can spot an obstruction in the vehicle's path, front or back. As long as the car is going less than 25 mph, the system will automatically stop the car. It sounds great, frankly, but then again so did the first airbag designs and we saw exploding airbag systems that went off with nothing actually triggering them, causing serious injury to car occupants.

We'll wait and see, but given the Lexus track record, it is likely that the system will experience fewer bugs than we saw when air bags first started being installed in new cars.

But one techie aspect is being pulled on the 2013 Lexus LS model - the parallel-parking system that was such an eye-catcher in the Lexus television commercials. The system could steer a car into an empty parking spot but apparently Lexus owners don't like turning the wheel over to a computer, according to Lexus. In with the new and out with the old.

If your new Advanced Pre-Collision System becomes a problem, return it to the dealer quickly and often. Read our Avvo Legal Guide "Ten Steps to Get Your Lemon Motor Vehicle Repaired Right" by clicking here.

And remember, if you get a lemon and they won't help you, call our Toll Free Lemon Law Hotline, 1.888.331.6422. We know what to do. Not in Ohio or Kentucky or Hawaii? Check the Free Online National List of Lemon Law Lawyers by clicking here.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get Lemon Car Justice. Everyday.


Sometimes, it really is the gas

We sometimes hear car makers blame car problems on the type of fuel being used by the consumer.

It is hardly ever true in our experience, but every once in awhile maybe it is.

BP is recall fuel being sold in northwest Indiana because it is "bad" BP announced yesterday.

Regular unleaded fuel out of the BP Whiting, Indiana, storage facility apparently has been causing hard starting, stalling and other "driveability problems" for BP customers during the last week.

By the end of the day Monday, August 20, BP had shut down the pumps at its stations in the area and the fuel recall was announced. You can learn more at this link by clicking here.

Fuel damage to cars affected by the bad gas is reportedly between $200 and $400. Might be wise to steer clear of the BP sign for awhile.

Burdge Law Office
Getting rid of lemons for over 30 years.


Infiniti JX Under Safety Investigator's Eyes

Federal safety investigators are taking a close look at the 2013 Infiniti JX crossover vehicle after getting reports that the emergency brake system can activate itself while driving down the road - and that's not a good thing, folks.

NHTSA, the federal agency in charge of ordering motor vehicle recalls, has announced that they have launched an investigation into the luxury brand's first 7 seat, 3 row crossover SUV. The vehicle is loaded up with a wide variety of luxury touches and some very advanced safety equipment.

Included in the vehicle's driver assistance package, if you want to call it that, is a so-called intelligent braking assist system that can bring a vehicle to a complete halt if it senses the driver fails to slow down when an obstacle is spotted by the vehicle in front of it at some distance. The automatic system can slam the brakes to a complete halt of the vehicle.

There are two reports of the braking system stopping the Infiniti JX vehicles on a bridge for no apparent reason. Investigators speculate that metal in the bridge itself may have triggered to unexpected braking to a halt.

Either way, it could be dangerous so watch out if you own a 2013 Infiniti JX with the braking assist package, although we wouldn't call it much of a driver assistance package.

Got a lemon Infiniti JX?
Get Justice. It's what we do.

We're One of the Top 21 Consumer Rights Web Sites in the World

The Best Consumer Rights Sites in the World
In the entire world, only two law firms have a web site or blog that has been named one of the Top 21 Consumer Rights Information Sites. We're one of them and proud of the years of hard work that got us there.

We are pleased to announce that our site has been recognized as one of the Top 21 Consumer Rights Information (Internet and Blog) Sites in the World. Out of this "best of the best" group, only 14 are based in the US and only two law firm sites made the list. To see the Top 21 List click here.

Editors from KwikMed gathered a specialist panel of judges who scoured the internet and reviewed web sites from across the internet, all around the world, before hand picking the very best for each category. KwikMed has been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, US News, Fortune Magazine, USA Today, The New York Times and other publications.

The Ohio Lemon Law Blog, now renamed to Consumer Rights Law Blog, was singled out by the judges as being "a real contribution to the consumer rights" of individuals everywhere with a unique perspective and contribution that lets readers know their rights under the law.

As good as it feels to know our work is recognized for its quality and informative information that helps consumers protect themselves, it feels even better when we help our individual clients solve a problem, one on one. It's what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get Justice. Everyday.


Jeep Cherokeeand Ram truck safety investigation ongoing

About 107,000 of the Grand Cherokees are under investigation. Chrysler isn't giving any explanation for the power steering fluid hose leaks yet but since a fire can erupt from the leak, the danger is extremely serious for Jeep Cherokee owners. The two best-selling vehicles made by Chrysler are being investigated for safety defects.

Turns out there is a danger that the rear wheels can lock up in the 2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck and the 2010 Dodge Ram pickup truck. Obviously, that won't be good news while you are driving down the road.
As for the 2012 Grand Cherokee, power steering fluid hoses can leak and that can lead to engine fires.

About 230,000 Ram pickup trucks are involved in the safety investigation. Federal safety investigators report that gears that let the wheels turn at different speeds can fail and that can lock the wheels entirely, even if the truck is moving at the time the gears fail. That can lead to the drive shaft coming loose and that, in turn, can puncture the gas tank. It's a serious problem for Ram truck owners.

If you've got one of these potential deadly defect lemons, you may want to contact your dealer at the first sign of any trouble.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves, every day.

Celebrate 4th of July

“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people” – Abraham Lincon

Have a great Fourth of July week.


You think Toyotas ran away? Here comes Lexus

A while back Toyota went through a lot of recalls for its unintended acceleration recalls and cases. Lexus did some too. Well, here comes Lexus again.

Federal safety investigators just announced that nearly 134,000 of the Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid vehicles are being recalled.

All of this hit the fan back in 2009 and 2010 when a state trooper in California died at the wheel of a runaway Lexus, killing several family members in the crash. Ultimately in the first recall 3.8 million Lexus and Toyota vehicles were recalled, with the blame on loose mats that can catch under the accelerator pedal. That was followed two months later by another recall involing millions more with sticking accelerator assembly dangers and/or fears.

Toyota, which builds the luxury Lexus models, thought it put all of this behind it. Well, here comes Lexus again, with 131,800 2010 model year RX 350 SUV's recalled and 22,500 of the hybrid RX 450h SUV's recalled.

Until you get your recall notice, we recommend you remove the floor mats completely and continue to drive carefully.

Your Best Used Car Buys in Ohio Right Now

While prices for used cars in Ohio, just like Kentucky, Georgia, and everywhere else, seem to have been higher than normal, industry insiders say the prices should be dropping very soon. And when they do, there are some predictions out there on what may be your best used car buys, according to Paul A. Eisenstein, a writer with

You can read the whole article here but his list includes these top 9 models:
  • Compact Sedan: 2005-2010 Hyundai Elantra
  • Midsize Sedan: 2005-2010 Nissan Altima
  • Large Sedan: 2006-2010 Hyundai Azera
  • Coupe: 2005-2010 BMW 3 Series
  • Convertible: 2005-2010 Mazda Miata
  • Wagon: 2005-2010 Pontiac Vibe
  • Compact SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Honda CR-V
  • Midsize SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Ford Explorer
  • Large SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Chevrolet Tahoe
In our experience as lemon law lawyers, these are typically well built vehicles and we have had very few cases involving any of Eisenstein's top 9 best used car buys.

Coming in after the top 9 though is the Honda Odyssey and the Ford F-150, and we have had too many of those models as lemon claims so we can't recommend them to anyone, although they may be best buys purely because the prices are down, perhaps due to their history.

Read the whole article and judge for yourself. And remember, if you get a lemon, get us on the phone or email us asap.

Getting rid of lemons is what we do.

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


Did your car dealer have a bond?

Today we have a guest blog visit from an author who deals with motor vehicle sales and warranty issues in the context of car dealer bonds that some states require a person to post in order to get or renew a car dealer license to sell cars to the public. Bonds like this are often required, or else some other assurance of financial solvency, to show their intent to follow the state dealer license laws. The whole subject of car dealer bonds can be confusing and often misunderstood. Today Danielle Rodabaugh from gives us the following helpful explanation.

What are surety bonds, and how do they affect the auto industry?

We've all head horror stories of friends who were taken by unethical auto dealers who were looking to do nothing more than pull the wool over their eyes to turn a quick, unfair profit. What you might not know about, however, are the steps the government takes to limit instances of auto dealer fraud. One way many government agencies protect consumers is by requiring auto dealers to purchase surety bonds before they can apply for a business license. But what is a surety bond? A basic definition explains that a surety bond is a legally binding contract that ensures a certain task is performed. Similar to other types of insurance, thousands of specific types of bonds exist. When it comes to the auto industry, a specific license and permit surety bond type is used to protect consumers from dealers who might try to take advantage of them. These bond types are commonly known as auto dealer bonds, but they also go by many other names such as DMV bonds, motor vehicle bonds, dealer license bonds or used car dealer bonds, just to name a few. No matter the specific name, all bonds work in the same basic way. Each surety bond that's issued provides a legally binding financial guarantee of a dealer's ability to work according to industry laws and regulations. Three entities are involved with each bond that's issued.
  1. The dealership or individual auto dealer that purchases the bond is the principal. By purchasing a bond, the principal provides a legally binding promise that they will follow whatever industry regulations the bond form refers to.
  2. The government agency that requires the bond is the obligee. By requiring the bond, the obligee reinforces industry regulations and protects consumers from financial loss at the hands of unruly dealers.
  3. The insurance company that underwrites the bond is the surety. By underwriting the bond, the surety provides a financial guarantee that the principal will comply with all regulations according to the bond's terms.
If a dealer fails to follow industry regulations, harmed consumers can make a claim on the bond amount to gain reparation. Government agencies may also make claims on bonds to collect payment penalties and fines that result from an auto dealer's inability to operate a dealership according to law. Some instances in which claims may be made on a dealer's surety bond include
  • misrepresented merchandise
  • unethical sales tactics used to sell vehicles
  • failure to deliver a valid certificate of title
  • failure to pay necessary motor vehicle fees
  • failure to forward sales tax payments to the state
If you or someone you know has been ripped off by a fraudulent auto dealer, contact your state's auto dealer licensing office immediately. You can report the infraction and get information on the dealer's surety. If the dealer did, indeed, violate the bond's terms, you can take the case to court. If the dealer is convicted, the harmed party will be compensated by the surety that provided the bond's financial guarantee. Danielle Rodabaugh is the chief editor of the Surety Bonds Insider, a publication that tracks news related to the surety bond industry. As a part of the publication's educational outreach program, Danielle specializes in writing about surety bonds and other forms of consumer protection.


Memorial Day Thanks and Why We Celebrate

Every Memorial Day and every Veterans Day we pause to thank those who served and to reflect on the importance and meaning of those two days of the year by republishing a blog written several years ago, to give thanks to veterans of yesterday and today.

A few years ago, a local farmer came in to see me for some help. Bills and crop prices and debt had him over a barrel and we talked about bankruptcy and what it could and couldn’t do to help relieve his situation. He was a big strong man, the way some farmers just naturally are, both in his heart and his size. We were about the same age but he looked so much older.

His situation took about 5 months to get resolved but I will never forget the day that I learned that he was a chopper pilot in Vietnam about the same time as my older brother, Larry, was there. I had no clue and never would have guessed.

We both stopped what we were talking about, his own current problem, while he looked out the window and quietly talked about what it was like then, back in Vietnam. It was hard for me to look at this older and much heavier man and try to imagine what he must have looked like back in the days of 1966-'68. Now, he was mostly bald and probably weighed a lot more than he did back then, but like me he had been young once too. Now, he didn't move as quick as he undoubtedly did in 'nam either.

But you could tell from the distance in his eyes as he spoke that he had never really left it all behind him.

He talked about what it was like to fly a chopper in and out of valleys and hills and fire, dropping down as quickly as he could and picking up a wounded soldier or two and getting back out of there, wherever "there" was, as fast as he could. Nothing but plexiglass between him and the bullets.

He said he loved flying helicopters then, but that he was never in his life as scared as he was in those few minutes between the time just before he would land and when he was back out of the worst of the fire. He said they were the longest minutes of his life. He called it dodging a lifetime of bullets, scared to death that one of them had his name on it.

He had a dusty old baseball cap in his hand as we talked. It hung loosely in his hand as he gazed aimlessly out the window. It was from some team that didn't really matter, I'm sure. His eyes were never in the room with us as he calmly and matter-of-factly talked of how men died around him and also of those who came back like him.

You could tell he had memories he wished he didn't have. He said the worst feeling he had from the whole war was that every time he'd lift off the ground he knew that while he was getting out of there, he was leaving other boys behind. He'd fly away, his heart pounding loud in his chest, while the fighting went on below him.

After a long while, he stopped talking and we just sat there, not talking at all. I could see that things were going on inside his mind and I just didn't know what to say. I was dumbstruck by this seemingly now-gentle giant of a man who had been through hell. Truth be told, I didn't think I had a right to say anything at all. After what seemed like the longest time, both of us returned to the present moment. He never spoke about it again.

It's been years now. I don't even remember his name. Probably most of the guys he saved didn't remember it either. I haven't thought of him since then until my older brother sent me a recording he found on the internet, called God's Own Lunatics (click below) that explained what it was like to be one of those foot soldiers on the ground. I clicked on it, listened, and the memory all came back to me.

I recall that he was the son of a local farmer who had gone off to war and came back all grown up - to be his father's son, a farmer again. Something about beating your swords into plows seems appropriate for me to end this note but it also seems so trivial a thing to say. I can still recall his face.

We all owe veterans a whole lot more than any of us will ever be able to repay. If you know someone who served, shake their hand and thank them. You don't need to say why. They'll know. And remember on this Memorial Day weekend that there are lots of veterans that aren't around for you to thank, so say thanks to those who still are. 


GM's Soda Can Fix for Control Arm Defect

A Qualified GM Mechanic?
Well, this is a new one. According to one GM dealer, GM has told it to use a soda can and some tin foil to fix the defective front lower control arm in a 2011 Cadillac SRX.

Really? Yeah, really.

It seems that in some 2011 Cadillac SRX sport utility vehicles there is a repeated popping noise that comes from the front end when you turn the steering wheel during a tight turn and also when braking.

In spite of work on the front axle assembly, shock rod, steering gear rack, strut mounts and brake system - none of which fixed it - GM apparently had a "better idea" in mind.

Important GM suspension parts?
Tin foil and a soda can.

 Yesssiree, now that sounds like a fix that might have come out of someone's back yard, but it hardly makes sense coming from a multi-billion dollar car manufacturer's engineering department. But there it is.

And just where does that tin foil go?
Sort of reminds us of the car made back in the 80's where the engine designers apparently didn't talk to the frame designers and after it was all assembled a dealer noticed that the only way you could replace one of the spark plugs was to remove the engine from the car. Real bright, guys.

So, if you own a popping Cadillac SRX, don't be surprised if your dealer doesn't ask you if you have a spare, empty soda can.

And you might be a little suspicious if you see a roll of tin foil on that mechanic's workbench too.

Got a lemon Cadillac SRX?
Want a new Cadillac SRX (without the tin foil and soda can)?
Get some Justice.


Getting Even With Harassing Debt Collectors Is Satisfying

Have you ever been sued for a debt you didn't even owe?

In a recent debt collection harassment case we represented a local consumer who had been sued in a foreclosure - for a house he didn't even own. They even turned in the foreclosure debt on our client's credit records. All for a house he never bought in a state he had never been to.

Our client was a pefect and gentle man who was a true gentleman. When he was served with the papers he tried to explain he never bought any house in Florida, but the sheriff deputy served the legal papers on him anyway. When he wrote letters to the bank and the collection company lawyers, it got nowhere. The foreclosure case wasn't dropped. They even served more papers on him.

It was just plain wrong and they wouldn't leave him alone. That's when he called us.

We argued, wrote letters, sent emails, made phone calls, but still the bank's out-of-state collection company attorneys wouldn't drop the case. They ignored the letters. The didn't answer the emails. They didn't answer the phone calls and did not respond to the voice mails left for them. It was like every attempt to stop it just went into a dark hole and disappeared.
There are federal credit rights laws that say debt collectors and creditors can not harass you or claim you owe a bill when you don't. And they don't have a right to mess up your credit record either. Especially when you don't even owe them anything.

So, we sued back. We sued the out-of-state collection company lawyers. And we sued the bank.

(Ron got two before we could even take this picture)
It took another 6 months or so before it all came to an end. They cleaned up the credit record, dropped the foreclosure claim against our client, paid a nice amount of money to our client for his aggravation - and we made them pay our attorney fees too.

Winning, or getting a good settlement for our clients, is what makes us happy around here. It is always nice to see the legal system work out right for people.

But the best part? That was just a few days ago when our client dropped off a whole bunch of wonderful and really tasty cupcakes for everyone here at our office. Everyone just loved it.

Cupcakes from a happy client make all of us here very, very happy too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping people every day. It's what we do.


Burdge employees participate in Day of Caring

Helping others is what we do everyday but it's nice to do something extra once in awhile too.

Burdge employees and staff recently worked as volunteers at the 22nd Annual Day of Caring Pancake Brunch at Fairhaven Church in Centerville, Ohio, helping to feed about 500 people and raised $2,374 for the Dayton Food bank and Montgomery County Emergency Housing Coalition.

We all had great fun serving hot pancakes and sausage, biscuits and eggs and even deserts - it was a great time for a great cause.

As the economy is picking up and home prices and employment numbers are all going up - it's still a good idea to help out wherever one can and we encourage everyone to do the same in your own community.

Burdge Law Office
Helping people every day


Soon, You Will Lose More of Your Rights. You Can Stop It If You Act Now.

HB 275 will hurt you
There are more consumers in Ohio than businesses, that just stands to reason. But the Ohio legislature pays attention to where the money comes from. And here they go again. This time, you are about to become the victim.

For 40 years Ohio has had a simple law that said no merchant could do anything that was unfair or deceptive or unconscionable to a consumer. That sounds like a pretty reasonable law. The law stopped crooks from ripping consumers quite so badly, frankly, because when they got caught they would just move on to other states where the law wasn't so strong and they could get away with their thievery more easily. That may end soon.

The Ohio General Assembly has decided that the crooks need a break apparently. So they have created HB 275, a fundamental change to the law, dressed it up in sheep's clothing, and now it's headed for the governor's signature in the coming days. If Gov. Kasich signs it, the thieves will win and you will lose. It's that simple.

The amendment to Ohio law will gut the only consumer protection law in Ohio that makes it illegal for a merchant to commit an unfair or deceptive or unconscionable act on a consumer. Once the word gets out, you can bet that the crooks and thieves who left Ohio for better pickings elsewhere will flock back. But you have one more chance to stop it.

Ohio voters don't have to stay silent while Gov. Kasich considers whether to go along with the big monied lobbies who have contributed time and money to dismantle Ohio's consumer protection law. You have a chance to stop it if you act fast.

Tweet @JohnKasich. Send him a message through the governor's web site. Call his office at 614-466-3555 or 614-644-4357.

Demand that the governor VETO HB 275. It is an anti-business proposal that is anti-consumer too.

If you don't act now, the governor may bow to political pressure from big business donors who are just waiting for the chance to get into your wallet or purse. If the governor does not hear you say VETO HB 275, then it could become law. And if it does, you will lose and the crooks and thieves will win.

It is that simple. Call or email the governor's office today. Just say VETO HB 275.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978.

Hundai Getting Too Big for its Britches?

There just isn't anything quite like a "maybe recall" where the manufacturer will fix some cars, but not the ones that it has already sold, but that's what Hyundai is trying to get away with now. They win. You get stuck. Sound familiar?

Hyundai has announced a recall to fix a bad seat belt design in the 2011 Hundai Sonata and 2012 Hyundai Sonata vehicle line. But there's a catch.

The center rear seat belt mechanism design violates federal safety standards and 13,095 of the vehicles have been sold and delivered to drivers - leaving only about 1,633 still in dealer inventory or unsold. Hyundai has told the federal government's safety investigators that it only wants to fix those 1,633 vehicles. Worse than that, they don't even want to tell the other 13,095 owners about the problem.

So, what do you do? We'll get to that in a minute. First, here's the recall notice, hot off the federal government's press release -

HYUNDAI / SONATA     2011-2012
Manufacturer: HYUNDAI-KIA AMERICA TECHNICAL CENTER INC Mfr's Report Date: MAR 08, 2012
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 12V098000 NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Potential Number of Units Affected: 14,728
 Hyundai dealers are replacing the center rear seat belts in Sonata hybrid vehicles currently in dealer inventory with center rear seat belts that are not detachable from the lower anchorage point prior to delivery to customers.
Now, what do you do if you are one of the 13,095 owns of the Sonata vehicles that Hyundai does not want to fix and has said it won't fix? Two things.

First, go to your local Hyundai dealer and ask them to fix it. If they say no? Complain. Loudly. Ask to talk to the supervisor. Then ask to speak to the owner. Still won't work?

And second? Call Hyundai at 1.800.633.5151. Busy signal? Call them on their regular phone line at 714.965.3000. No help? Fax them an angry letter at 1.714.965.3861.

Still getting nowhere? Write them a nasty letter about how they don't seem to care about violating federal law and send it to Hyundai Motor America, P.O. Box 20850, Fountain Valley, CA 92728.

Are they responding yet? Then send them a strongly worded email to

Hyundai likes to say that they "stood face-to-face with each and every automotive assumption out there and challenged them all" - well apparently that includes the one about following federal safety laws and building cars safely and fixing ALL of them when something is wrong. Instead, Hyundai appears to say "we'll fix what we want to fix - and you can't make us do anything else."

Are you mad enough yet? Send your letter to Hyundai Motor Company, 231 Yangjae-Dong, Seocho-Gu, Seoul 137-938, South Korea. Or, if you are really mad, call them at +82-2-3464-1114. Don't speak Korean?

Then fax your letter to Hyundai in Korea at 714.965.3148.

Would you rather complain direct to the guy in charge? Address your letter to Chung Mong-Koo, Chairman.

The second in command? Chung Eui-Sun, Vice Chairman.

Motor vehicle manufacturers should not get to choose what cars they will fix and what ones they won't fix - especially when they all have the same problem. Oh, you can also complain direct to the federal safety investigators at NHTSA. They make it easy - just click here and follow the instructions online.

And if they won't? Well, when you've got a bad car, you need a good Lemon Law lawyer. Click on the link below and find one near you.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of bad cars for more than 30 years.


Should you buy your next car? Or should you lease?

Experts generally agree that leasing a vehicle is almost never the right decision for a consumer, but very often it can be the right decision for a business. Still, car dealers are leasing so many used cars nowadays that it even includes used cars being leased too.

So what makes it attractive? What should you look out for? Here's some advice.

First read our 11 Easy Steps to Your Best Leasing Deal a free online guide that can save you thousands of dollars. That alone can give you tips on what to look for - and what to watch out for too.

Before you sign a new car lease, or a used car lease, here are some things to think through.

How long will you keep the vehicle? The longer you plan on keeping your car, the more likely it is that buying will be a better deal for you.

Lease companies and lease banks don't treat everyone the same. They each have their own lease contract forms and that means different terms, so read it all very carefully. Your dealer most likely can pick from half a dozen lease companies if they want to - and each company gives the dealer a "bonus" for signing you up with them instead of someone else. So make sure you pick the best deal for you and not the most profitable deal for the car dealer. As an example of things to look out for, check to see if they are charging you a "disposition fee" at the end of the lease. That's a charge of anywhere from a hundred dollars to a thousand dollars just to take back the car. And that charge is on top of any excess mileage or damage charges that may also exist.

How much is your monthly payment? The advantage of a lease is most often the size of the monthly payment. It will be less for a lease than for a regular finance contract when you buy the same vehicle. That's because at the end of the lease, you own nothing. At the end of a finance contract, you own the car and you have something that is worth something.

Most important of all, don't get cheated. Be careful about the numbers. Car dealers have a  thousand ways to cheat you and getting you to sign a lease that drains your wallet or purse is just one of them. So-called "negative equity" (a term car dealers invented), is another example. Using the more expensive "money factor" is another. And there's lots more.

There's a ton of other things to think about when you are trying to decide between leasing or buying your next car. More about that is explained on our free online guide Buying vs Leasing - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (click here).

The more you learn, the better you will be at making the best financial decision for yourself and your family, so you don't waste your money. Leasing can be tricky and car dealers can trick you right out of your money.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves for over 30 years.
It's what we do.