Friday

On Veteran's Day, a Reminder to Thank a Vet You Know

Every Veterans Day we pause to remember those who served and to reflect on the meaning of this day by republishing an article we wrote several years ago, a thankful tribute to all the veterans who have served over the generations. The true story below is that of a farmer's son and a war that was only just beginning 50 years ago and which now is little more than a page or two in a history book. Like every war, it was life and death everyday, half a world away from the evening news.

Some years ago, a local farmer asked me for some help. Bills and crop prices and debt had him over a barrel and we talked about bankruptcy and what it could do to help relieve his situation. He was a big strong man, the way some farmers just naturally are. We were about the same age but he looked so much older.

His situation took about 5 months to get resolved but what I will never forget is the day that I learned that he was a chopper pilot in Vietnam at about the same time as my older brother, Larry, was there. I never would have guessed it.

We were talking about his bankruptcy being over with when he just stopped talking, his voice trailing off while he looked out the window. After a minute he quietly began to talk about what it was like years before, 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 back 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 God between him and flying bullets.

He said he loved flying helicopters, but 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 at the moment. His eyes were never in the room 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, he said, 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 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. I never asked.

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.

We have had several wars since then, and thousands of more American boys and girls have gone out off and most have come back. Some didn't come back at all. Many who did, were changed.

We owe veterans a whole lot more than we will ever be able to repay. If you know someone who served, shake their hand today and thank them. And remember on this Veterans Day that there are lots of vets that aren't around for you to thank, so say thanks to those who still are. Thanks, Dad. And thank you, Larry. Two of the bravest men I have known in my lifetime. And thanks to my Uncle Don and David and all the others too. Veterans.

Thursday

A Farmer's Son, Those He Helped in Wartime, Those Who Never Came Back. Remember the Day

Every Memorial Day we pause to remember and thank those who gave their all so that all of us could have the life we have in this country. We also pause to remember those who served and to reflect on the meaning of this Memorial day by republishing an article we wrote several years ago, to give tribute to the veterans in all of our families - and all the veterans who have served over the generations. We pause to reflect on the millions of veterans who passed before and who inspire those who will come after them. The true story below is that of a farmer's son and a war that was only just beginning nearly 40 years ago and which now is little more than a few pages in a history book. Like every war, it was life and death everyday, half a world away from the evening news.

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 at 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 back 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 flying 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 at the moment. His eyes were never in the room 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. I never asked.

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 Veterans Day that there are lots of vets that aren't around for you to thank, so say thanks to those who still are. Thanks, Dad. And thank you, Larry. Two of the bravest men I have known in my lifetime. And thanks to my Uncle Don too. Veterans.

An Old Harvest of Hate, Being Reaped Again

Okay, we only talk about consumer protection issues here, but this weekend we received a 50+year old magazine and while reading through it, came across an editorial by Ralph Emerson McGill, a journalist from a time long gone by, discussing the state of American society in the year before a Presidential election long ago, which has echoes of right now.

One thing we noticed about politics and politicians is that everyone has an opinion and everyone's opinion often includes the opinion that everyone else is wrong. Perhaps it's time we reconsidered. Here's a few quotes that are worth a good, hard read.

"Extremists have ... directly and indirectly encouraged violence and defiance of Federal authority.  The list of these [people] includes politicians, evangelists, spokesmen for organizations dedicated to defying ..... The more shrewd among the peddlers of hate against their country have been careful to avoid open and direct incitement of violence. But their words and other abuse ... have inspired many whose disturbed minds tend easily toward recklessness and criminal action.

"We have grown used to seeing, on television and in news and magazine pictures, the hate-twisted faces of young men and women, and their adult counterparts, crying out the most violent threats and express venom against their country, its courts and its authority. We have seen the frightening faces of screaming, cursing mothers ..... The lives of those persons who sought to stand for law have been disturbed by threats and abuse, by filth shouted over the phone, by prowlers and, now and then, by a shot .....

"The extreme right and left in this country have so well revealed their minds to us in their literature, public utterances, in floods of mail, mostly anonymous, filled with outrageous charges against, and lies ... that we have no excuse not to understand what they plan and how they operate. In some instances men of great wealth, all made in the nation they wish to change more nearly to their own dream of at least semitotalitarian power, reportedly help finance some of the more extreme organizations, left and right. There were businessmen who, in a time when profits were at an all-time high and the domestic economy booming, nonetheless could speak only in hatred.....

"We must now understand that hate, if unchecked by morality, decency, and the determination of civilized men and women, may so weaken us that we will be vulnerable to our enemies.

"This hatred could focus on almost anything." And now it has come to focus again on us, in these times.

McGill's editorial, published in the Saturday Evening Post on December 14, 1963, was speaking of the rabid extremist views that saturated both the North and South in the 1960's and encouraged a young man to murder President Kennedy in Dallas the month before.

There is an old saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. If we as a society fail to rein in the hate-mongers among us, both left and right, if we fail to bring tolerance and civility back to our daily lives, if we continue to accept political gridlock as the best our elected representatives can accomplish, and if fail to return to having respect for each other in the midst of disagreement, well then this harvest of hate will only become more bitter, intense, and destructive.

So much of the Post's editorial could have been written just yesterday. So much of it may be written again tomorrow.

What are the Most Common Types of Consumer Complaints in Ohio?

Each year Ohio Attorney General DeWine adds up all the complaints they have gotten from consumers in the last year and sees which area has the most.

As usual, it's car sales that is in the Number One spot again.

The 2015 top complaint categories were:
  1. Motor vehicles
  2. Professional services
  3. Collections, credit reporting, or financial services 
  4. Shopping, food, or beverages 
  5. Utilities, phone, Internet, or TV 
  6. Home or property improvement
  7. Identity theft 
  8. Potential scams or other (such as sweepstakes, do-not-call issues, or grant offers) 
"Nearly a quarter of all complaints involved motor vehicles. The most common motor-vehicle complaint related to used vehicle sales. Other top motor-vehicle complaints involved vehicle repairs and new vehicle sales" DeWine's office reported.

Car sales fraud continues to dominate consumer complaints and in the past year we've seen some wild ones. Money really does make a car dealer go blind.

Like the Cleveland car sales operation that concentrates on internet sales of high priced and often wrecked and badly repaired vehicles. We've seen internet car sales fraud involving vehicles under $20,000 all the way up to over $100,000 that are bought by people who see online advertisements and after some phone calls and emails trusting consumers get ripped off more often than ever.


And then there's the Dayton-area operation that deals with its customers by packing high-profit "soft add on products" such as window etching they
call theft deterrent that is worse than useless and a so-called concierge service that amounts to a high priced "call us and we'll answer your questions if we can" scam --- and the customer often doesn't even realize what is happening to them at the time because of the 5 finger close the dealer uses to hide the numbers from the buyer's view.

Or the Rv dealer in the Columbus-area who charges what amounts to a $2,000 "delivery" charge for each motorhome sale.

Perhaps the worst rip off we've seen this year was the Cincinnati area Rv dealer who charged $2,500 for prepping the inside of their Rv's with a germ killing spray-down that was just as effective as a $2 bottle of Lysol.

Before you buy, check out the merchant at your local Better Business Bureau, do an internet search for complaints against the company, or you can even check the Ohio Attorney General's office for complaints against them too.

Buy local from car dealers you know and trust. And if you are not sure, then be extra careful. Read everything. If something is not clear or not what you were told, then make the car dealer hand write on the printed documents what they promised you or what they said to you about the vehicle. Never agree to any arbitration document - cross it out big and bold - if the dealer wants your money bad enough (and he does) then he will not argue over it. If they argue with you, then ask yourself "what are they doing to me that they are afraid of me taking them to court for?"

And when all else fails, get a car sales fraud lawyer on your side. Oh yeah, that's what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers, every day.

Friday

Rv Warranties and their Dirty Little Secret


When you buy a $30,000 new car and it turns out to be a lemon, you get your money back. Why doesn't it work that way with Rv's costing more than $100,000? Because most new rv warranties have a dirty little secret buried in the fine print. And it can cost you big time.

In fact, you would be better off with no written warranty from most Rv companies instead of the fancy but worthless written warranty you often get, buried in all that owner manual package of paperwork that you find in the rv after you drive it home.

Most of new factory rv warranties are now "repair only" warranties. That means the manufacturer only gives the buyer one promise - that they will fix what goes wrong if it is the factory's fault. That sounds okay at first, but what happens if they can't get it fixed right at all, in spite of weeks of trying on multiple repair trips back and forth to and from your dealer and maybe even other dealers? What then? Well, it gets worse.


What is "limited" is your legal rights.
Some of them, like many Thor rv warranties, now say that if they can't get it fixed then all you get is their promise to pay someone else to fix it. They even have a name for it; they call it their "back up" warranty.

Well if your Thor dealer can't fix the Thor rv, what makes you think that Bill and Bob's Rv Repair Shop in Podunk, Iowa, will be able to? 

Now, we aren't saying that Bill and Bob aren't good mechanics. Some independent rv repair shops are, frankly, even better than some rv dealer shops. But rv dealers have the advantage of direct lines to the factory help desk and can get attention and assistance that independent shops can only wish for. But if the factory can't get a problem fixed once and for all, and the factory dealer can't either, what makes you think that anyone else can?

So why do some rv manufacturers give you that "we'll pay someone else to fix it" promise? Simple. Because then if that other shop doesn't get it fixed, the factory can say "well we paid them to do it so now your fight is with them and not us." And you? Well, the big company sticks you in the wallet again.

The simple fact is that in most states if the factory did not give you any written warranty at all on that big, shiny new $100,000 + rv, your state law would probably give you an automatic 4 year warranty anyway. It's called an implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use, and it would actually give you more legal rights and more protection than what the rv manufacturer wants you to have - and certainly more than many of them are now giving you. 
What the fine print taketh away?


So this is one instance where the fancy-looking factory warranty actually hurts you - you get less than you think even though it looks like you are getting more than you need.

Fancy rv warranties from rv companies that won't stand behind them, and the lawyers they hire to write nice sounding warranties that actually don't give you much at all - and all the while they are making tons of money from building bad rv's that they sell for big profit with little warranties. Warranties that have a dirty little secret hidden within. Warranties that don't give you rights but spend their time taking away the rights you already would have.

Before you buy your next rv, insist on getting and reading a copy of the factory warranty. And don't buy an rv that only gives you a "repair only" warranty promise. Yes, maybe that means you don't buy a Thor next time. Or a Winnebago. Or maybe some other brands too.

There are some rv manufacturers that actually care about quality control and their customers. And then there are the rest.


What do you really get for your money?
Tell the dealer you want an rv that the factory will stand behind and will put it in writing in their warranty. And if the factory won't do it, then how come the dealer won't either? 

Tell the dealer that you want them to write on the sales contract that if their brand new rv is in the repair shop for more than 30 days in the first year then the dealer will refund your money. If the dealer won't do that, then what does that tell you about the quality of what the rv dealer is trying to sell you? It ought to worry you enough to go somewhere else.

If enough people demand a fair rv warranty and fair treatment, the industry might finally change and give it to you. But if no one complains, well, that's how they dig into your wallet and how you can be wasting your money.

If you get a lemon rv, we're right here. Helping rv owners get their money back is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping Rv owners get rid of lemon rv's since 1978.