Posted On: November 29, 2009

A California lemon law Mini Cooper buyback experience

A consumer from California named Eric successfully got BMW to buyback his defective Mini Cooper. The vehicle drop-off occurred on November 19, 2009, seven days before Thanksgiving. Eric wrote a blog about his experiences and the steps he took to get BMW to repurchase his vehicle.

As rare as it is from my experience, it looks like BMW did the right thing in this case. I will say that the probability for car manufacturers to do the right thing in California is much higher than in Texas. The lemon laws, although named similarly, are both very different from state to state. California Lemon Law, specifically the Song-Beverly Act, is much more consumer friendly than the Texas Lemon Law.

Among other things, for one, California lemon law has an automatic attorney fee shifting provision that forces the car manufacturer to pay the plaintiff/consumer's attorney fees. In Texas, the attorney fee shifting is not automatic,...at the lemon law administrative hearing, the only way that the car manufacturer is required to pay the consumer's lemon law is if the car manufacturer obtained its own attorney and provide the consumer with proper notice. Quite often, the car manufacturer will not hire an attorney and instead, would hire car experts who are trained by attorneys and have attended these hearings on a regular basis.

For more details on Eric's experience, visit his blog here.

Posted On: November 21, 2009

To Avoid Buying Lemon Cars, Ebay now offers free Autocheck and Carfax

I must admit, I love to purchase small items on Ebay. However, when it comes to buying large tickets items, such as a house or automobile, I will most likely stick to the traditional realtor or car dealer. My reasoning stems from the concern that if something goes wrong (such as obtaining a lemon house or car), then it will be easier to hold a person or brick/mortar company responsible.

For years now, Ebay has been utilizing the pervasiveness of the Internet to auction vehicles through its website. Used or pre-owned car dealers will list their inventory on Ebay for a fee. The problem stems from the bad press that Ebay has been receiving regarding the vast amount of lemons that are being sold on Ebay's car auction site.

Just 2 years ago, I sat in on a lawsuit case about a buyer suing one of the car dealers who listed a lemon and wrecked car on Ebay. The car dealer's defense was that he knew nothing about the car's history, even though the facts were very clear that there was a history of tamper and accidents linked to the car. The dealer ended up losing and the car buyer was awarded several thousands in damages.

In an effort to avoid problems like the above and to gain consumer confidence, Ebay recently announced that it will offer the AutoCheck and Carfax service to online car buyers free of charge. Autocheck and Carfax are paid for services that gives you a report card on a vehicle's history. For example, if the vehicle has been subject to a major car accident, then the incident will most likely show up in the report.

One thing consumers should keep in mind is that Autocheck and Carfax is not 100% reliable. There has been numerous cases where tainted or lemon vehicles has shown up clean on Autocheck and Carfax. My suggestion is to be extremely cautious when purchasing large ticket items online. Sometimes, the traditional way of doing business may be the best way.