Tuesday

Ways Cars Are Getting Worse

For years we have become accustomed to the idea that every year motor vehicles get better and safer. It looks like maybe we are wrong about that.

Matthew de Paula at Forbes has an interesting article on the ways that new cars are getting worse. And while we hadn't thought about it before, they make some very accurate points.

Huge Wheels. 14 and 15 inch wheels were the rule and very common years ago. Now, you can't go on a new car lot without seeing 19 and 20 inch wheels on some cars. And the tires are routinely wider than ever too. Not only do they cost more, but everything about them costs more. They are less forgiving and give a different, often harsher ride too.
Big is not always better

We were returning from Michigan one night when a pot hole suddenly appeared on the road in front of us - too late to swerve and miss it. You could hear the wheel bang into the hole and feel it through the car. The tire pressure light instantly came on, warning that the air pressure in the tire was rapidly going out. The rim was dented and the run flat tire ripped into the sidewall, flattening the tire. No one was open but luckily we were just a short, slow drive to the next exit where there was a hotel to stay overnight so the car could be towed to the nearest (30 miles away) dealer to get a new rim and tire. That was a $1,000 pot hole.

It made me think of the wheels and tires on my first car as a teenager, a used 1959 Ford passed down to me. That car would have gently dipped into the pot hole and come right out of it and just kept on going.

Sure those big wheeled run flats look cool, but you have to wonder if they really make your car any better. They may be just an expense you should avoid.

Check out Matthew's Forbes article for the other ways that cars are getting worse. It'll open your eyes - and maybe close your wallet next time you go car shopping too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Help Themselves Since 1978.

Monday

A New Chevrolet in Just Two Months? You Betcha!

Sometimes a manufacturer will argue and argue, stall and delay, and maybe even make you go to court to get rid of your lemon. Then sometimes, they see reality and know we won't give up and they just do it.

That was the case for a wonderful lady from Ohio whose 2011 Chevy Malibu turned out to be a lemon.

With door rattles, the trac system warning light, radio buttons that would stick, loss of tail lights, marker lights that wouldn't work, more electrical system lighting troubles, inside lights that flash or flicker - all during the first year - it's no wonder she thought it was a lemon. Multiple times int he shop and days out of service and not much more than lip service to show for it.

Then the second year of troubles started. Cracking and popping noises in reverse gear or when turning, dash lights and shifter lights that blink when they want to, more rattles, more lights that flash when they want for who knows what reasons, tail lights that won't work again and back to the blinking dash lights again and a failing XM radio system.

After 38 days in the shop over the course of two years, she knew she had a lemon. And she had every reason to be mad about a bad car and a dealer who had no clue what to do and a manufacturer that didn't seem to care. She had every good reason to be mad.

So we got mad with General Motors for her --- and in short order it was all over with. Now she's got a new Chevrolet sitting in her driveway and she's smiling.

And we have a huge box of chocolate candy from a very happy client. Oh, and General Motors paid our attorney fee bill instead of her. That's only fair too.

Burdge Law Office
Getting rid of lemons for more than 25 years.
It's what we do.

Thank a Veteran Today

Every Veteran's Day we tell this story of a young lawyer, a farmer, and a war fought long ago, in tribute to the veterans in each of our families - and all the veterans who have served over the generations and who still serve 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.