Friday

Is General Chrysler Going to Build Your Next Chevy?

FCA, the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles corporation that resulted from the merger of Chrysler and Fiat, is looking to merge now with General Motors, but GM bosses want no part of the idea, according to AutoNews in Detroit.

FCA first floated the idea early this year and GM's Board refused. Now, both GM and FCA are reportedly taking another look, each hiring financial advisers to see if it makes sense.

For its part, FCA's chairman is arguing that combining development teams would enable each of them to create new and better products faster. But the biggest shareholder in GM is the company that manages the United Auto Workers healthcare trust for retired workers and no one thinks they would rush to the merger idea for one simple reason. Job losses from a merger would hurt current employees and the Union itself.


This whole merger thing sounds like a game being played by millionaires who sit on the boards of large corporations that employ thousands of workers and are just dreaming up ways to make more money for themselves and their companies by cutting company costs, which often means cutting jobs. We can't think of a single merger in the last decade where the new company had the same number of employees that the two companies had before the merger - workers seem to always lose out when big corporations get bigger.

And for the guy who goes car shopping later? Well your next Chevy Impala just might end up being made by Fiat workers in Europe. Will the quality get any better? Only time can tell...

Meanwhile, if you've got a lemon Fiat or Chrysler, you know who to call.

Burdge Law Office
Getting Rid of Lemons, That's What We Do 

Monday

This Pepper Stinks

Same Size Can but with More Profit
So, with costs going up and profits going down, what does a food manufacturer do? Simple, trick consumers into thinking they are getting just as much today as they did yesterday when they go to the grocery store. But how do we do it, asks the CEO, CFO and the Board of Directors? Well, says a voice in the back of the room, how about we just put less pepper in the package? Genius, shouts the entire room, s they envision their next bonus payment!

And so it goes. Profits stay high, the fat guys get fatter, and the everyday folks in the grocery store don't even realize what is happening to them. At least maybe not until every food product starts doing it. And now they are.

All of this came to the forefront (again) in a front page article in the Business section of the June 12 Wall Street Journal. The entire article is well worth the read, so you don't waste your money on big business rip offs. Consumer Reports reported on its investigation of these deceptive practices a few years ago but obviously things have only gotten worse as Big Business has continued to find ways to sneak around the law's prohibitions.

You need to be aware of this grocery store deception and to be ready to do something about it too.

We don't know where it started but McCormick's pepper tins are among the latest to take the weight out of their same-size tin package so they can keep their profits high. Same size tin on the shelf at your grocery store. Just a lot less pepper inside. One fourth of the original content has been cut out and in tiny print on the bottom edge of the can the new much-less content amount is printed, 3 ounces now where it was 4.

It's like a 25% price increase that you didn't even know you were paying. In the food packaging business this deception is called "weight-out" or "slack fill" apparently by those who are beginning to do it regularly. We call it cheating.

News programs noticed the narrowing of toilet paper rolls, followed by the shrinking size of some cereal boxes, but up to now there was usually some noticeable size difference in the package itself that would tip off the consumer that they were getting less than when they shopped yesterday. Now we are seeing some food companies getting deceptive by simply keeping the food container-package the same size and just cut back on how much product is put on it.

Well it turns out the Federal Trade Commission has some federal regulations that makes deceptive packaging illegal and there are only a couple ways around deceptive packaging laws. One is the unavoidable settling of the food items into the bottom of the package - think crackers in a box for example. Another is to protect the food from damage in transit - think chips for example.

Image result for unfair deceptive ripoff
Is Big Business Cheating You at the Grocery Store?
And then there are those companies who do it just to protect their profit in a way the consume has less chance of finding out about. Feel like complaining to McCormick about this? Click here and do it! Maybe it will make them think twice before doing it to their other grocery store products.

Better yet, the FTC is looking at rewriting its packaging regulations and is inviting you to tell it what you think - you can do that by clicking here - so give them a piece of your mind if you want to stop this kind of consumer fraud.

Time did a nice article online about the ten common ways that companies trick you into spending more on their products.

So what can you do? You can stop them. You can let them know you don't appreciate being ripped off by sneaky sales gimmicks that are designed to see if you are being careful every time you go to the grocery store.

Every state has a "Udap" law that makes it illegal for any company, anywhere, to do anything that is unfair or deceptive to a consumer - and that includes the use of deceptive advertising and sales gimmicks that can rip you off. And, best of all, many of these Udap laws say that a violation of the federal law against unfair and deceptive acts is also a violation of the state law. So if you see an unfair or deceptive sales tactic that costs you money, these laws not only give you the right to stop it, but most of them give you the right to make the company pay you for doing so and, on top of that, they can be liable for any attorney fees too.

Big Business will be fair and honest, it seems, when you make it less profitable for them to be unfair and deceptive. So when you go shopping, be careful and don't let them trick you into wasting your money.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Consumers Everyday, Since 1978

Sunday

Are Flood Cars Headed to Your Dealer?

A tip from an industry source warns us that as many as 10,000 damaged vehicles may come out of the recent Texas floods and insurance companies may be letting wholesalers buy these vehicles so they can end up at your neighbor dealer's car lot.

Texas floods send thousands of vehicles to auction
Automotive News and Bloomberg News are both reporting that about 2,500 flooded cars, trucks, Rv's and motorcycles have already been towed to a Copart yard in Houston, where they likely will be auctioned off for salvage value to the highest bidder. Copart works with insurance companies to sell vehicles wholesale that have been totaled in accidents and floods.

While these totaled out flood cars are normally reduced to salvageable parts, some are bought by dealers who intend to resell them after cleaning them up, often moving them to another state, and then off to the local auction yard they go - where their flooded or wrecked history can often be made difficult to trace back.

So if you are in the market to buy a used vehicle in the next six months, watch out. Inspect carefully, have a local mechanic or body shop check out the vehicle before you buy it. Check under seats and in trunks for any sign of water damage, such as sand or dirt or waterline markings.Look for signs of premature rust. Smell for musty odors and look for mold.

And, most important of all, ask the selling dealer to guarantee that the vehicle you are looking at was NOT in a flood anywhere.

And don't just take their word for it. When they say "no flood - no way" be sure to tell them that you want them to write that on the sales contract too. And if they won't do it, then watch out! Don't buy! Go somewhere else.

Don't waste your money on flooded or wrecked cars!

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