Monday

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.

Wednesday

Toyota Prius Recall Joins 2.8 Million Recalled Toyota Vehicles


This just in from The Detroit Bureau.com. 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?
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Tuesday

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.

Thursday

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 www.ArbitrationSucks.com.

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