The Trials and Tribulations of a Lemon Car Owner

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 29th, 2009

If you’ve ever had a lemon vehicle (or have one now), you should read Jan Baughman’s “Roger, My Chevy, and Me.” Jan’s account of her trials and tribulations in trying to get her 2007 Chevy Aveo fixed are by turns amusing and heart-wrenching – the latter because her experience is all too common.

Ultimately, Jan decided to take the manufacturer’s offer to trade in her lemon – but not before shelling out a lot of hard-earned money. She paid $3,553 for the new 2009 Aveo, plus $678.57 to fix a scratch on her lemon Aveo.

Jan decided to represent herself, rather than use “one of the myriad shyster attorneys that specialize in these matters.” (Her words.) While she’s to be admired for her willingness to take on GM, it’s likely that her decision not to consult a lemon law attorney cost her about $4,000. Reputable lemon law lawyers don’t charge the consumer, and their fees are paid by the manufacturer in successful lemon law claims.

Hers is an account worth reading, both because of its compelling narrative and because, to those in the know, it is a cautionary tale about how you can think you won yet still get taken for a ride.

OK Senate KOs Lemon Law Expansion

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 28th, 2009

Legal Newsline reports on an Associated Press story that the Oklahoma Senate is putting the kibosh on an expansion of the state’s lemon law. The bill, which had the support of the state’s Attorney General, and which overwhelmingly passed in the house with a 97-2 vote, would enable consumers to choose whether they wanted a replacement vehicle or refund for their lemons (a provision that’s standard in most state’s lemon laws). The legislation would also prohibit automakers from deducting mileage for the first 15,000 miles in the event the consumer chose a replacement vehicle.

Who’s the roadblock? State Senator Harry Coates, who chairs the Senate Business and Labor Committee that needs to approve the measure before it moves to a full vote. The AP quoted him as saying, “I’m just not interested in putting the members through a contentious debate on a bill that apparently doesn’t have a whole lot of support.” A 97-2 vote in the Assembly sounds like a lot of support to us.

Center for Auto Safety Releases 2009 Car Complaint Index

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 27th, 2009

Fox 29 News in Philadelphia recently reported that the Center for Auto Safety found that the Land Rover LR2 topped the 2009 Car Complaint Index. Information for the Index is compiled from consumer complaints registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The other four vehicles rounding out the top five in complaints are the Mitsubishi Lancer, the Pontiac Solstice, the Dodge Avenger, and the Subaru Impreza.

In the current economic crisis, automakers are putting the squeeze on dealers to cut back on warranty work. If you’re having a problem with your vehicle, you have to be twice as diligent in order to get the defects fixed. Moreover, because we’re all in this mess together, it’s important that you file a complaint with the NHTSA, if for no other reason than to alert other consumers to potential problems with the make and model of your vehicle. You can file a complaint or look up complaints on the NHTSA website.

Australia to Review Consumer Warranty Protections

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 27th, 2009

Over the past year, there has been considerable back-and-forth about the lack of vehicle lemon laws in Australia. Allens Arthur Robinson recently analyzed an announcement by the country’s Federal Consumer Affairs Minister that the Council will review current laws (specifically the Trade Practices Act 1974) and make recommendations for strengthening consumer protections. Included in the review will be a need for lemon laws, especially those relating to motor vehicles. The Council is expected to issue its report by July 31, 2009.

More on GM, Chrysler Warranties

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on April 13th, 2009

As rumblings of a possible GM bankruptcy continue, TIME Magazine analyzes the federal government’s Warranty Commitment Plan, which I discussed in a recent blog post. I agree with TIME’s assessment that “At this point, the promise is grand but vague.”