Friday

Give Them Back Their Rights, Court of Appeals Says

Arbitration sucks, we've said it before and we'll say it again. Arbitration sucks

But whatever you think about it, in Ohio a binding mandatory arbitration clause can not be used to take away a consumer's rights under Ohio's Udap law, the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. Still, more and more arbitration clauses are trying to not only take away a consumer's right to go to court, but to also change the laws they can use.

Ohio's Udap law, the CSPA, makes it illegal for any merchant to do anything that is "unfair or deceptive" (the words in the law) to a consumer. And if they do, then the consumer may be able to recover triple their actual damages, attorney fees, and up to $5,000 in non economic damages for aggravation and inconvenience, etc. Car dealers hate this law.

Its no wonder then that Autos Direct, a Cleveland area internet-based car dealer, was sticking mandatory and binding arbitration clauses in its sales paperwork with consumers. But it went one step further and added a sentence that said "The non-prevailing party shall pay, and the arbitrators shall award the prevailing party's arbitration costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney's fees." Lawyers call that a "loser pays" clause and it means that if you are going to sue the car dealer then you sure better win or they might go after you to make you pay their attorney fees. But that's not what the the law in Ohio says.

In other words, car dealers like Autos Direct not only wanted you to not be able to go into a courtroom where the public can find out what they did to you, but they also didn't want you to be able to use consumer protection laws against them at all. Ah, c'mon, guys, don't you think that's a little too much?

Well the Eighth District Court of Appeals thought so, when it decided Tamara Hedeen v Autos Direct Online, Inc. on Sept 25, 2014, and tossed out their arb clause.

 Attorney Beth Wells, with Burdge Law Office in Dayton, Ohio, reports that the appellate court ruled that "where a consumer's CSPA (Ohio's Udap law) claim is subject to binding arbitration, limitations on a consumer's right should not be allowed by a private arbitration forum." A couple of pages later in the court decision, the appellate judges threw out the arbitration clause entirely and held that Ms Hedeen now has the right to go to court.

In Hadeen's case, the court noted, she had bought a used 2011 Mercedes online for $28,000 and later discovered that it had sustained over $20,000 in undisclosed damage and over $7,000 of the damage had never been repaired. It's things like that which explain why some car dealers don't want consumers to go to court at all. Hadeen filed her case against the dealership with claims that they had committed unfair and deceptive acts in violation of Ohio's Udap law and Ohio's little-known Motor Vehicle Sales Rule, OAC 109:4-3-109.

A public court, where the public can see what is happening in our Justice system - that's what Justice should be all about. A Big Round of Applause to Attorney Beth Wells on a job well done.


Burdge Law Office
www.BurdgeLaw.com
Helping Consumers Get Justice, Everyday

Tuesday

Things are Cozy in Korea for Kia and Hyundai

Money Talks at Hyundai & Kia
A few days ago we wrote about how the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate had just spent over $10 Billion to buy the land for the new corporate headquarters they intend to build (for another $6 Billion) in Korea. And we asked you to look down at your feet. They take up a little less than one square foot. Are you wearing $18,851 shoes? Because that's how much Hyundai paid for each square foot of the land they so lavishly bought.

And they bought it from the government. Oh yeah, the same government that set free the company's CEO in spite of his conviction for embezzlement and corruption charges involving a $106 million slush fund.

Well in the last few days Hyundai has published several full page newspaper ads welcoming the South Korean President Park Geun-hye to the UN. One must wonder - is he wearing $18,851 shoes too?

Ahhh, Hyundai. The company that builds cars and quietly slips into their car warranties mandatory binding arbitration clauses that prevent consumers from suing them when that shiny sparkling car becomes a lemon. Meanwhile, they lavishly spend money, court political and industrial favors from the rich and powerful - and shabbily treat their own customers.

Like we said years ago, friends don't let friends buy Hyundai. Or Kia. And apparently some folks strongly agree.

Before you buy your next new or used car, think about where it is made and what rich politicians and foreign nationals profit from you hard earned money. And think about how they want to take away your rights so they can sell you a car and stick you with a lemon.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves for more than 25 years

Friday

The $18,851 Shoes at Hyundai

The last time you had a problem getting warranty to pay for a repair to your Hyundai or Kia, did you wonder what they were doing with their money? Well, maybe they were saving it up, as Americans buy more and more foreign cars.

Just how much money do you think Hyundai would pay for the land on which to build their new headquarters building in Seoul, Korea - land owned by an agency of the South Korean government?

Which number below do you think is closest to what they agreed to pay, just for the land itself mind you, without going over the actual number -
$18,851 per square foot - a waste of money?

$500,000?
$1,000,000?
$2,000,000?
$5,000,000?
$10,000,000?

Whatever your guess, you aren't even close. It was so much that when it was announced, Hyundai's stock took a nose dive because they paid three times what the land was said to be worth.

"...nonsense. I was stunned," said the fund manager for an investment company that owned stock in the company, according to Automotive News and reports from ABC News. He was no happier about it than many other stockholders, some of whom probably had no clue how much cash the company was sitting on (maybe more) in its cash reserves.

Would you believe $10 billion? Yup. And their plans for the property will reportedly cost another $6 billion to develop and construct. The size of the land is only 854,030 square feet. Our desk calculator won't go beyond one billion but if our hand written calculations are right, that comes out to $18,851 per square foot of land. Look down at your feet. They take up a little less than one square foot. Are you wearing $18,851 shoes? Apparently Hyundai is.

One commenter at Automotive News joked that Hyundai paid "Triple appraised value for a government owned property. The same government that granted the CEO freedom from prison. No, I see no connection," referring to the conviction of CEO Chung Mong-koo on embezzlement and corruption charges involving a $106 million corporate slush fund. On Korea’s 63rd Independence Day, the ministry of Justice granted a special pardon to eliminate all charges and sentences.

Hyundai sells several dozen model vehicles with prices ranging from $16,000 to $64,000 but you have to sell a lot of cars to plunk down that much just to buy some land to build a glitzy headquarters building.

Got a Hyundai lemon? Got a Kia lemon? And they won't or can't fix it? Give us a call. Getting rid of lemons is what we do. Everyday.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumer Get Rid of Lemon Cars, Everyday.

Tuesday

Most Common Car Complaints? CarComplaints.com has the Answers

This post is not an advertisement but a loud applause for some great work being done by CarComplaints.com. What these guys do, they do very well.

Don't buy a lemon. That seems like an easy enough thought to keep in mind when you go car shopping. But how do you avoid it?

One way is to check the current ratings of the best and the worst vehicles on reliable web sites like this one. Frankly, we have seen a lot of complaint web sites come and go over the years, but this one sticks around and gives consumers remarkably useful data - and that's what you need so that you don't end up with a lemon.

Thinking of buying a used Honda Accord? Well, while Honda typically builds a good vehicle, but did you know that CarComplaints reports that the 2008 Accord has more complaints about premature brake wear than any other complaint about any other car? So the moral is simple - avoid that one unless you know how to replace those brakes or have some money set aside to pay for it.

But if you don't check, you don't know. And if you don't know, you can end up with an expensive four-wheeled lemon on your hands.

You can find not just the worst cars at this website but also the best (note that the Accord isn't listed as the best Honda for any model year).

And their Recent Trends page shows summaries of the most recent complaints received. Like for instance the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango that is reported to have lots of "TPM" related runability troubles too - which backs up the 160+ owner complaints filed with NHTSA, the federal recall agency.

Bottom line is simple, don't get a lemon car, new or used. And one way to avoid it is to do your homework first by checking out online complaints and ratings and reviews at websites like this one, frankly, folks.

And if you do end up with a lemon, well, that's what we're here for.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons Everyday


Chrysler Under Safety Investigation by Feds, Again

Chrysler says it is investigating electronic problems in its cars that could affect millions of its most popular cars and trucks and minivans, according to USA Today reporter James Healey.

The investigation, you can bet, is being mirrored by government safety regulators, quietly looking at the same and more complaints about electronic problems, including engine stalling complaints. Federal safety investigators at NHTSA start their safety investigations low and slow, often going unnoticed by the media. But you can bet Chrysler is watching carefully.

The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer watchdog group, filed a petition requesting federal safety investigators take a close look at the numerous consumer-owner complaints that they say are linked to the Chrysler "total integraed power module" that controls a vehicle's computer "brain." Chrysler has said that it had an investigation already underway but has not said when it actually started. That date could be a clue on when the quantity of complaints rose to a level that caught Chrysler's attention.

Apparently there are hundreds of complaints and some say the vehicle can quit running, leaving the operator facing a dangerous traffic situation that can cause an accident or injury to the driver or other drivers.

Apparently power windows, theft alarms, even the ignition system could be affected by a faulty TIPM module, raising a risk of stalling that can kill the engine and shut off power assist to steering and braking systems. USA Today reports that in some models it can disable the airbag systems too.

No doubt about it, this can be a deadly defect. If your Chrysler vehicle has any electronic problem at all, don't take a chance. Get it in to your dealer immediately. If they stall you, ask them point blank if your problem can lead to stalling. If you get a run around, then demand they give you a loaner.

You don't want to be driving a stalling Chrysler on the highway.

Remember, in Ohio a dealer only gets one chance to fix a deadly defect. The second time it happens, you've got a lemon. And when you get a lemon, you are entitled to your money back or a replacement. Who knows - maybe they'll fix it in time for the replacement they build you.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers get rid of lemon cars and trucks for more than 25 years