July 13, 2012

Extended warranty information on new vehicles as it relates to the Texas Lemon Law

Most new vehicles come with a standard 36,000 miles/36 months warranty, whichever occurs first. An extended warranty is intended to cover repairs beyond the standard warranty. Some extended warranty gives you coverage beyond what the standard warranty doesn't cover; usually, coverage you most likely do not need.

In addition, if you have a new lemon vehicle, having an extended warranty is quite useless. If the service center can not fix the vehicle, then the issue is moot. Your best course of action is to contact a texas lemon law attorney as soon as possible.

If you plan on putting a lot of miles on your vehicle, so as to trigger the 36,000 mileage coverage quickly, then it might be a good idea to opt for the extended warranty.

On the other hand, if you plan on using the vehicle as a second car or leisure vehicle, then the 36 month threshold will give you three years to drive. After 3 years when the standard warranty expires, as statistic shows, you would likely trade your car in for a more modern model vehicle; making the extended warranty useless.

The most important aspect of an extended warranty is what it covers and excludes. The normal exclusion includes normal wear and tear; and negligence. However, I have reviewed an extended warranty for a client once and it was virtually useless coverage because there were so many exclusions in it.

Remember to go by what is written in the warranty and not what the finance guy/gal says. It doesn't matter what they say, don't trust them; their goal is to earn a commission, they are not your advocate.

Mathematically, you might be better off setting aside a rainy day car repair fund than to purchase the extended warranty.

If you decide on purchasing, it is vital that you negotiate the price of the extended warranty. Start with 50 percent from the asking price, you have little to lose, because you can purchase the extended warranty from a private vender after the purchase transaction. Remember, the pushy finance person is just another sales person. They will likely agree to a 20 to 30 percent off reduction from the original asking price.

July 31, 2011

Lemon Law makes it on the list of Top Ten Consumer Complaint

According to several consumer protection groups, lemon law complaints against automobile manufacturers was one of the top consumer complaints in 2010. Specifically, the complaints relate to misrepresentations in the sales of new and used vehicles, lemon launderings, leasing, and towing disputes (Source: North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI), the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators (NACAA)).

These consumer protection groups offer the following three suggestions to avoid being a victim of fraud and ripoff:

1) Pay using a safe method -- avoid paying cash. Instead, pay by credit card so that you have another layer of protection in the event you need to dispute a purchase.

2) Get all promises in writing -- sale agents love to promise the world, but promises are not enforceable unless they are in writing

3) Do research and know your rights -- the more you are aware of your legal rights, the better. Most consumer law offices (such as mine) offer a free case review.

March 20, 2009

Texas Lemon Law Cars and Extended Warranties

I recently found some time while working at my law office and stumbled upon a great article written by Ellen Phillips of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Ms. Phillips wrote briefly about whether one should purchase extended warranty, especially when faced with the dilemma of either not buying one and having an expensive item break, or buying one and wasting money on an item that may not need foreseeable warranty repair work done on it.

Ms. Phillip's answer to this dilemma is to have the consumer evaluate two factors before buying deciding on whether to buy extended warranty or not. First, the consumer should determine the specific services and coverages of the extended warranty terms, and second, the cost and value of the consumer's peace of mind. Ms. Phillips pointed to a recent Consumer Report article that pointed out that the cost of extended warranties may be as much as the actual repair work itself.

Speaking of peace of mind, having extended warranty on a product such as a car does not guarantee that you will be worry-free. For example, if you bought a new car and have taken it in 4 or more times under the Texas lemon law and the service center is unable to properly diagnose the defect and fix it, then having additional extended warranty beyond the standard manufacturer warranty period is virtually useless.

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May 12, 2008

New Jersey's new lemon law is better than the current Texas lemon law, NJ's lemon Law is set to include electronic devices such as the IPOD

New Jersey's new bill, the A-1002, is now heading to the General Assembly for passage. I wonder if New Jersey's former Lemon Law unit director, Robert Russo, has anything to do with this new law?

The A-1002 is the new New Jersey Lemon Law that not only includes automobile protections, but it will also include protections of warranties and extended warranties on consumer electronic devices such as the television, an IPOD mp3 player, or other electronic devices over $250.

The new law requires:

1) that the retailer or manufacturer must replace the subject electronic device with a device of equal condition or value if it has been subject to repair for 3 or more times, or

2) that the retailer or manufacturer must fully refund the purchase price of the device if it is deemed defective.

Currently, the Texas Lemon Law, unlike this new New Jersey Lemon Law, only protects consumers against defective new vehicles. Hopefully, one day, the Texas Lemon Law will broaden to protect consumers electronics also.

January 3, 2008

Is Honda's Airbag Deployment Defect a potential Texas Lemon Law matter?

Below is J. Jones' summary of ConsumerAffairs.com's recent article on Honda's airbag deployment defect. Ms. Jones is a law clerk at my law office.

To answer the question posed in the title of this article, I believe that the answer is yes. Most of the time, when there is an airbag related defect in a vehicle, the rebuttable presumption found in the Texas Lemon Law is triggered. The rebuttable presumption states that if the vehicle has been subject to 2 unsuccessful attempt for a serious safety hazard for the same defect, then the vehicle is presumed to be a lemon. I always cringe when I read or write about the Texas Lemon Law serious safety standard because it forces consumers to risk their lives not once, but twice, in order to prove that their car is a lemon.

Article Summary:

In this article presented by Joe Benton of ConsumerAffairs.com, a young woman and her boyfriend were getting ready to leave in their new 2006 Honda Civic. The airbags exploded into the faces of the young couple when they closed the passenger door and shifted the transmission into reverse to back out of their spot.

Honda at first claims that the door was closed to hard. After they realized how ridiculous that claim was, they changed their position to something a little more understandable, “We don’t know.”

The mother of the young girl believes that, either way, Honda is covering up the true reason of the deployment. Mom also states that their trade in proposal, which would land them with a higher balance and a $16 increase in monthly payments, is absurd.

It has been reported that other consumers have experienced similar problems with Honda airbags as well. As Mr. Benton states, “But all is not lost. Rosemary's daughter's 2006 Honda Civic wins the ConsumerAffairs.Com lemon of the Week award for the immaculate deployment of the car’s airbags.”

November 26, 2007

Texas lemon law for wheelchairs

As an attorney who frequently handles Texas lemon law cases, I often receive calls from potential clients regarding lemon law coverage for non-vehicles such as computers, electronics, and other consumer household items.

Unfortunately, at this time, the Texas lemon law does not extend to non-vehicle related items (other state and federal consumer warranty laws may help you instead). One alternative is to look up the dealer or supplier of the wheelchair and file a Better Business Bureau claim (BBB) against the people who made or sold the wheelchair.

Interestingly, this morning, I came across a very interesting article today regarding lemon laws for wheelchairs, but only if you purchased the wheelchair within the state of New Jersey. The "wheelchair lemon law" was enacted a little over ten years ago to protect NJ residents from manufacturers of defective lemon wheelchairs.

It is important to note that this law only applies to wheelchair manufacturers and not suppliers. The article further goes into detail about what the wheelchair purchaser (plaintiff) went through before they were able to settle the case out of court.

If I have a wish list when it comes to the ability to amend or modify the current Texas lemon law, I would change it to include additional consumer items, such as wheelchairs, consumer safety equipment, limited appliances, and some electronic devices that costs above a specific amount.

November 5, 2007

Texas lemon law deadline or statute of limitation (SOL)

The single most important information that consumers need to know about the Texas lemon law is the deadline to filing a timely claim. Unfortunately, the law does not require car dealers or manufacturers to affirmatively disclose this information. Therefore, new car buyers often find themselves ineligible for the Texas lemon law because they rely on the dealer's promise that the car is fixed and have waited to long to assert their rights.

Under Texas lemon law, a consumer must open a case with the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) within 24 months from the automobile's date of purchase or within 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Please note that there is a 6 months grace period after the expiration of the deadline, but such grace period is very difficult to assess.

It is recommended that if you suspect that you have a lemon car, that you contact a Texas lemon law attorney as soon as possible -- or, at minimum, open a claim with the DOT immediately.

October 7, 2007

Lemon Law: consumer sues Aston Martin for making defective luxury car

A consumer in Missouri is suing British car manufacturer, Aston Martin, for selling him a defective lemon car. His theory of recovery is derived from Missouri Lemon Law, federal warranty laws, and state consumer protection laws.

Like most of my clients throughout Texas ranging from the Houston, Austin, Laredo, and Dallas area, Gary Mathes paid full price for a new vehicle and later found out that the vehicle is defective. The vehicle has been subject to 12 separate repair attempts for engine, brakes, electrical, and miscellaneous other issues.

The difference between this situation and a typical lemon law case is that only a limited number of this particular Aston Martin vehicle is sold each year. This means that if the Aston Martin vehicle is deemed a lemon, then the remedy of replacement will not be available to Mr. Mathes. Alternatively, the remedy of repurchase or a monetary settlement is certainly an option.

The case is currently pending in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri. For more information, go here.

October 4, 2007

Texas Lemon Law coverage in the Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper

Too often, when faced with a new broken car, consumers are unfamiliar with their lemon law rights. Burdened with frustration and the runaround from car dealerships and the manufacturer, some consumers resort to trading in their vehicle at a substantial loss.

Recently, the Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote a brief summary about the Texas lemon law. Personally, I think that this public announcement is a very commendable thing that our local newspaper is doing.

In summary, the newspaper article accurately states that a consumer with a suspected lemon should contact the Texas Department of Transportation by calling the local toll free number immediately. In addition, there is a $35 fee, which is refundable to the consumer if the consumer wins the lemon case via the Texas DOT.

However, the article is silent on the deadline for filing a lemon law complaint. The statute of limitation for Texas lemon cases is usually 24,000 miles or 24 months from the date of purchase, whichever occurs first. If you have missed this deadline, then all hope is not lost, as other laws such as the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) or Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act may still help you.

Please contact a local Texas lemon law attorney for more information. Most lemon law attorneys practice statewide. For example, although my office is based in Dallas and a consumer with a problem car may live in Weatherford or Hillsboro, as long as the vehicle was purchased in Texas, then my office may be able to assist.

September 16, 2007

Warranties and expectations on consumer products

Today I am going to do something a little different and talk about a recent personal experience with a consumer product – not a lemon car, not a big-ticket purchase, but an inexpensive electric toothbrush.

We use toothbrushes everyday and normally do not spend much time thinking about their design or history. We do not know when humans first started using tools to clean their teeth, but there is evidence of the use of “chewing sticks” by ancient Babylonians as far back as 3500 BC. The first appearance of such devices in literature is around 1600 BC in China. Following on this long history of oral hygiene, in 15th century China, boar’s hairs were fixed in bamboo to make the first toothbrush. The 19th century brought the mass production of the toothbrush in America, then modified in the 1930’s to include nylon bristles. The electric toothbrush made its appearance on the US markets in the 1960’s with continuing evolution up to the present day.

So, how does this tie in with my experience? A few months back, I saw a battery powered Crest Spin brush on sale at the grocery store in Lewisville, TX. I do not remember the exact price, but it was around $5. If you consider what electric and battery powered toothbrushes cost a few years ago (and even what expensive models go for today), this is incredibly inexpensive – especially since batteries are included.

After a month or two of use, the batteries died and I replaced them. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a loss of powered and checked the battery compartment. I found that, despite having a gasket, water had leaked into the compartment and a battery had corroded a bit as well as one of the contacts.

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