Know Your Rights: a Simple Guide to the Lemon Law and Magnuson-Moss … – autoevolution

Know Your Rights: a Simple Guide to the Lemon Law and Magnuson-Moss Warranty ActKnow Your Rights: a Simple Guide to the Lemon Law and Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

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Buying a brand spanking new automobile is one of the most interesting experiences an individual can have in its lifetime. No, this is not another Top 50 things to do before turning 50, but a simple guide to how the Lemon Law and Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act can cater for your purchase.

It’s been four months since the grand finale of The Year of The Recalls. 2014 was also the year that gave us petrolheads the infamous Nine-A-Lemon. In a nutshell, a New Zealander bought a 911 that started to show its manufacturing defects soon after delivery. What can you do if you find yourself in a similar situation and what rights do you have?

Let’s say that you just purchased anything from a 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck to a Mercedes-Benz S500 Plug-In Hybrid. Now let’s presume that the F-150 or S-Class experience sudden loss of power or a problem with the exterior lighting. It’s not exactly ethical to go back and forth to the dealership and have the service mechanic sugarcoat the problem.

Here comes the Lemon Law

By Lemon Law, we’re actually referring to those state laws specifically made to provide a remedy in such a situation. These laws vary from your run-of-the-mill pop-up toaster to autoevolution’s bread and butter. Truth be told, repairing or refunding a $40 appliance is a different matter from doing so with a passenger vehicle. This is why there are multiple types of laws determined by the state you live in.

Essentially a special provision, the automotive type of Lemon Laws are there to determine a reasonable number of repair attempts depending on a certain set of circumstances. In most cases, automotive Lemon Laws cover warranty-related problems that arise during the first year and a half after a vehicle was delivered to its owner or within the first 18,000 miles (28,968 km) clocked by the car’s odometer.

In those 18 months/18k miles, the Lemon Law says that a manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to repair a defective vehicle. If the sub-standard glitch is persisting, then an arbitrator or judge can assume the Lemon Law’s guidelines, deciding if an automaker delivered a lemon or not.

Before jumping to court proceedings, most legal experts recommend lemon car owners to go through arbitration first. Howbeit, not every brand maintains a state certified arbitration program. If that’s the case, then call your lawyer as soon as the third repair job fails.

The bottom line is as follows: a lemon is the brand new car that suffers from a condition that can’t be repaired after three or four attempts or 25 to 30 days spent in the shop. You need to comply to only one of those two guidelines for the dealership to give you a refund or offer you with an all-new (and hopefully not defective) replacement vehicle.

Put your poker face on, don’t stutter and go on the offensive with the dealership that sold you the lemon. If the sales guy tries to add sweetening to the problem, remind him of the state’s Lemon Law.

What about the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act?

Enacted in the same year that saw Peter Gabriel leave Genesis, this act is a US federal law that’s thoroughly detailed in Title 15 of the United States Code, Chapter 50 – Consumer Product Warranties.

Buying a new car with a recurring defect equates to buying a defective consumer product. Happily for us consumers, the warranty comes on the scene when all else fails. The Magnuson-Moss act is the way to go if the personal means of transport you have acquired isn’t exactly a passenger vehicle, but anything else with wheels and an engine.

Motorcycles, boats, ATVs, even class A motorhomes and two to three-year-old cars are covered by it. The Warranty Act applies to every written warranty on a consumer product and every consumer product that comes with a warranty. It’s simple but be careful – some consumer products aren’t covered by warranty.

Cutting straight to the chase, if you bought an ICE-powered contraption that didn’t comply with the manufacturer’s warranty, you’re virtually covered. Assuming that a dealership’s service department advisor denies your warranty claim in a rude or unfair manner, try to settle the dispute with the supervisor. On the assumption that this fails, you can contact the manufacturer directly to complain.

As it’s often the case, this operation may also fail. Therefore, you’re left with three last resorts: just file a complaint with your local consumer protection office, the FTC or the state’s Attorney General. As an added bonus, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is the way to go if your car is still in warranty but has surpassed the 18-month/18,000-mile threshold of the Lemon Law. Pretty handy, huh?

Furthermore, most attorneys will handle these kind of lawsuits without charging a nickel from you. How is that possible? The legal fees of this type of case are recoverable from the dealership or carmaker if you win.

As a general rule, the customer wins most of the times.

This article was not written by Michigan Lemon Law.
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Written by: Mircea Panait

Limits to squeezing of 'lemon law' – The Straits Times

The Consumers Association of Singapore has stepped in the right direction by examining the feasibility of obliging manufacturers to give warranties for all goods sold here. This proposed expansion of the “lemon law”, to go beyond retailers and include manufacturers, would be both logical and fair. After all, defects in products are the shared, if not the primary, responsibility of manufacturers. They have a duty not to dump defective goods on unwary markets, while retailers must not pass on to customers such goods, which are known colloquially as “lemons”. Customers would benefit even more than they do now should a new lemon law come into operation, enhancing the scope of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and the Hire Purchase Act.

Retailers, too, would gain. At the moment, they are liable to customers who complain of faulty products, while they are held up in ad hoc and often tortuous negotiations with manufacturers. Were a new law to come into effect, it would circumvent the need for such arduous processes. Instead, compulsory warranties from manufacturers could take the form of private agreements between them and retailers, obliging manufacturers to chip in to repair or replace bad goods, or compensate sellers. Indeed, the new law would only make compulsory what is customary now with durables such as refrigerators and washing machines, where the manufacturer’s warranty insures the customer against malfunction for a stipulated period. The principle of liability should be the same, whether the product is a high-end one or a casual one such as commonplace IT accessories.

In practice, how retailers divide their responsibilities with manufacturers should be left to them to devise, within the template of a general agreement that could be varied to reflect the particular nature of the goods in question. Accountability and transparency matter to customers, and a new law could well achieve these goals if it is parsed well enough. The authorities, who have no vested interest in the matter, could weigh in to ensure that the amended law is fair to all parties concerned.

One problem is that manufacturers outside Singapore might opt to not sell their products here if they find enhanced lemon law requirements prohibitive. Singapore is too small a market to make such a choice a punitive one. Of course, it is possible also that more reputable foreign manufacturers would remain engaged in the Singapore market in order to maintain their global profile. Overall, however, consumers here could face a reduced range of goods, particularly at the lower end, if any amendments are framed too strictly. Hence, a nuanced approach is called for, so that ordinary consumers do not lose out.

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Expanding 'lemon law' will raise competitiveness – The Straits Times

I FULLY support the call by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) for the “lemon law” to be enhanced (“Case wants ‘lemon law’ to include manufacturers”; Monday).

Making it mandatory for manufacturers and retailers to enter into agreements related to the repair, replacement and refund of defective goods would lead to greater commercial certainty for both retailers and manufacturers.

For retailers, this could also significantly lessen the time and effort needed to negotiate a satisfactory outcome with the manufacturer each time a product is found to be defective.

This, in turn, frees up valuable resources for retailers to focus on other priorities, such as delivering quality service to their customers.

Manufacturers would also have more incentive to improve their quality control processes and checks, in order to limit their warranty obligations as far as possible. The end result is an overall increase in the quality and standards of consumer products made and sold in Singapore, giving a further boost to consumer confidence.

If the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) decides to accept Case’s proposal, one way to facilitate its implementation would be for MTI, Case, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the Singapore Retailers Association to work together to draft a fair and reasonable standard template agreement that retailers and manufacturers can easily adopt as a starting point (but still retain the flexibility of having variations).

This would make it more convenient for retailers and manufacturers to comply with the new law, and reduce their compliance costs.

Further, the proposed changes would also bring the scope of the lemon law in line with that of our consumer product safety legislation, which covers manufacturers as well.

A potential limitation is that manufacturers based outside Singapore would not be affected by the proposed amendments to the lemon law.

This means that retailers who import products manufactured overseas might be left without adequate remedies against foreign manufacturers if the imported goods turn out to be defective, even though consumers may still seek recourse against these retailers under the lemon law.

This may drive retailers to get their supplies from local manufacturers (which would be covered by the amended lemon law) or more credible and reputable foreign manufacturers that are willing to take responsibility for their products, and share the risk of defects with the retailers, even if this entails a thinner profit margin.

This would ultimately benefit consumers, who will have more quality products to choose from.

Marco Low Choon Zhu

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Consumers in Lemon-Law Cases Not Entitled to Postjudgment Interest on … – JD Supra (press release)

In Hyundai Motor America v. Superior Court (filed 3/20/15, No. G051279), the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, determined that the plaintiff consumer was not entitled to postjudgment interest on an attorney’s fees award because the award had already been paid before a final judgment had been entered. The decision reaffirmed the rule that postjudgment interest only begins to accrue when a judgment or court order definitively disposes of the rights of the parties in the action, not before.

Plaintiff filed the original action against Hyundai in July 2010 under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civil Code § 1790, et seq.; “Song-Beverly Act”) alleging various defects in a 2010 Hyundai Tucson.

Hyundai made an offer of compromise under Code of Civil Procedure § 998, wherein it agreed to pay Plaintiff for return of the vehicle and for reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs in an amount to be determined by the court in exchange for a dismissal of the action with prejudice. Plaintiff accepted and on July 31, 2014, the court held a hearing and awarded Plaintiff $42,203 in attorney’s fees and costs and directed that the action be dismissed with prejudice. A judgment reflecting the dismissal with prejudice was not signed by the court until November 21, 2014.

Before the judgment was signed, Hyundai issued a check to Plaintiff on September 8, 2014 for the $42,203 in attorney’s fees. Plaintiff accepted the check, but claimed it was short by $462.50, which was the alleged amount of postjudgment interest from the date of the court’s July 31, 2014 order. To put pressure on Hyundai, Plaintiff filed a request for Hyundai’s president to appear for a judgment debtor’s examination for $462.50. On October 6, 2014, Hyundai moved to strike Plaintiff’s request, but the trial court denied the motion.

Hyundai petitioned for a peremptory writ reversing the trial court’s order on the grounds that no final judgment had been entered for which interest could accrue. In its review, the California Court of Appeal acknowledged that the Song-Beverly Act provides for a prevailing buyer to recover attorney’s fees “as part of the judgment.” In Plaintiff’s case, the Court of Appeal determined that a final judgment had only been entered on November 21, 2014, when the trial court signed the judgment because the dismissal served as a final disposition of Plaintiff’s action against Hyundai. The Court of Appeal also rejected Plaintiff’s contention that the July 31, 2014 order was a final judgment because an unsigned minute order is a directive and does not itself constitute a judgment.

Notably, the Court of Appeal also explicitly cautioned litigants against requesting a judgment debtor’s examination of a company’s president where the alleged debt is only $462.50 and is against a party with obvious means to pay such a minimal debt. The Court of Appeal indicated that trial courts should not tolerate this tactic, and warned, “[n]ature, not judges, should be in charge of making mountains out of mole hills.”

This case is significant because it provides insight into what constitutes a final judgment, which is critical for determining the appropriate amount, if any, of postjudgment interest. This case is also important because it demonstrates that a fast-acting defendant can eliminate the need to pay postjudgment interest by providing prompt payment of an attorney’s fees award before final judgment is entered.

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Citing lemon law, woman sues car dealer for fraud – West Virginia Record

BECKLEY — A Raleigh County woman filed suit against a Fayette County auto dealership for alleged fraud in a May 2013 vehicle purchase agreement.

LemonLawNancy K. Compton brought a lawsuit against Beckley Buick-GMC Auto Mall Inc., doing business as Beckley Automall Inc., in Raleigh Circuit Court on Feb. 18, claiming breach of warranty.

The plaintiff purchased a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze from the defendant on or about May 13, 2013, for the purchase price of $16,713.53. When Compton experienced issues with the car’s performance, she allegedly had to find another vehicle for transportation.

Compton claims that she was forced to buy the car when the dealer took her old car in trade and allegedly would not return it to her, using a “best price” promotion to close the sale followed by a bait and switch tactic, according to court documents.

The plaintiff maintains that she repeatedly brought the new car’s defects to the defendant’s attention but that there was no effort to make repairs to her vehicle. Citing misrepresentation, violation of state law and willful infliction of emotional distress, Compton claims loss of use and diminished market value of the vehicle, as well as aggravation and inconvenience.

She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, revocation of the vehicle and refund of the purchase price as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.

She is represented in the case by J.C. Powell of Powell and Majestro from Charleston. The case has been assigned to Judge H. Louis “Kirk” Kirkpatrick.

Raleigh Circuit Court case number: 15-C-117-K

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Written by: Carol Ostrow

Action 9 investigates Florida pet lemon law – WFTV Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Several families claim a Petland store sold them ill dogs that needed care, but they claim the company refused to pay their veterinarian bills.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard. It’s not something you want to come home to,” said an emotional Iliana Colon.

Five weeks after she bought a mini Australian shepherd, Colon can no longer afford vet bills.

Since buying the puppy at Petland in Waterford Lakes, Colon claims the dog has been sick, despite treatment by two different veterinarians.

When she asked the store to cover her vet bills, she said, she was told that Petland wouldn’t do anything about it and that it was her responsibility.

Florida’s pet law says if a vet finds a dog unfit for sale within 14 days, the store must refund, exchange or cover vet bills up to the cost of the pet.

Colon’s vet’s diagnosis states the puppy is unfit for sale.

“I do believe they owe me. I invested everything, and they don’t care,” said Colon.

Action 9’s Todd Ulrich went to Petland for answers.

Sick puppies and Fl. law with weak protections #Action9 investigates big vet bills that aren’t paid #WFTVat5pic.twitter.com/FylKa0aNAc

— Todd Ulrich (@TUlrichWFTV) March 2, 2015

“You can call, email or something. They’re not going to be videotaped,” said a store employee.

Urich was later contacted by Pawsitive Solutions, which handles Petland’s customer relations.  It said the vet only listed symptoms, not a diagnosis, so Petland did not have to pay.

Six consumers contacted the Better Business Bureau, claiming Petland did not follow Florida’s pet law, including a woman who wants to remain anonymous.

“Did you have to fight to get vet bills paid?” asked Ulrich.

“Yes. It came down to anger, tears, everything I could pull out so they would hear me,” said the upset customer.

Eventually, her credit card reimbursed her for the vet bills Petland would not pay.

Iliana Colon is just starting her fight.

The pet law is administered by Florida’s Division of Consumer Services, and pet owners need to contact that agency.

But many times, owners must take legal action on their own to enforce it.

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Understanding Florida's 'lemon law' – Local 10

A consumer recently purchased a new car and already has made several trips to the dealer’s service department for repairs. After picking up the car, the same problem occurs or a new one arises. The dealership employees tell the consumer that there is no more that they can do and refuse to give a refund or another car.

Consumers do have options with the quickest and least expensive to file a claim for arbitration under the Florida Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, also known as the “lemon law.” This law affords consumers a refund of monies paid to date for the car (loan, lease or all cash payments) less depreciation or a reasonably equivalent replacement car. The car must have been purchased new in Florida and a claim has to be filed within 24 months after taking delivery.

Here’s the process: once the consumer brings the car in for repairs three times for the same problem or has had it in the shop for 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) for a variety of problems, a claim may be made against the manufacturer. The arbitration is a semi-formal hearing (not in a courtroom) in which the consumer presents her case and the auto manufacturer presents its facts. At the end of this hearing, the arbitrator decides who wins. The consumer may have to go through the manufacturer’s own certified arbitration program if there is one (usually arranged by the Better Business Bureau). If she loses, then she is entitled to proceed to the state of Florida’s arbitration, which is organized through the Florida attorney general’s lemon law division. In both, the key to winning is proving that the car has a substantial defect which impairs its safety or use or value.

Although the law is meant to be consumer friendly, it can be complicated especially in proving to an arbitrator(s) that the car has a substantial defect. In addition, calculating the refund to the consumer can be confusing without an understanding of how depreciation and trade-in values work. Despite that, the benefits may outweigh a lengthy and costly trial.

How may a consumer avoid buying a lemon? Investigate the prospective car’s repair history in Consumer Reports, auto magazines, Internet chat groups and trusted, knowledgeable mechanics. Many new cars go through several model years before the manufacturer works out all of the kinks.

If the consumer does experience repair problems, it may help to hire a private mechanic to inspect the car and testify at the arbitration hearing if necessary. The consumer should always obtain and read all repair orders and question the findings of the dealership’s mechanic. Often, the order will show that the car is performing to manufacturer’s specifications despite the private mechanic’s observations. Some dealerships are known to deny warranty coverage and bill the consumer for costly repairs when they should have been covered under the warranty.

Lastly, if there is a problem, do not let the manufacturer off the hook by thinking the problem will work itself out or feeling that it’s not a big deal. Once the warranty ends it can become a big and very costly deal.

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N.J. lawmakers look to extend state's 'Lemon Law' to include farm vehicles – NJ.com

New Jersey is known for agriculture and farming — a lifestyle that relies on strong machinery like plows and tractors — but when a new or leased vehicle is flawed and malfunctions, it leaves farmers with a big problem. 

Because farmers work around a weather window, which depends on the time of year to plow, plant and take care of crops, if the vehicle is faulty, it impacts the entire season of farming, according to Cumberland County Board of Agriculture member Hillary Barile.

“Replacement for equipment is not always available and you can’t just go down the street and rent a new tractor to get your work done. Often, there is a really long, from a month to a year for a waiting list,” Barile, who is also a farmer at Rabbit Hill Farms, in Shiloh, said Monday afternoon.

If someone purchases a new farm vehicle and it has an engineering defect, there is a loss of opportunity based on the weather, and that can be really bad, Barile added.

But there is good news for farmers who heavily depend on their equipment.

The state Senate Economic Growth Committee and full Assembly approved a bill amendment that will add farm vehicles under the New Jersey “Lemon Law” guidelines, further protecting agriculture professionals. 

“We have the ‘Lemon Law’ for vehicles, as far as buying them and that is to protect the consumer. The bill we have now is the same thing, but for farming equipment,” Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak (D-1) said Monday.

Not only does faulty equipment leave farmers down a necessary vehicle, but it can also put a huge dent in their pockets, according to Barile.

Some tractors, whether new or used, can climb to prices beyond $200,000 depending on the size of the vehicle.

“If you look at prices, a lot of equipment like tractors are very expensive, even if they are used. This is protecting the farmer by making sure they are not getting a piece of equipment of poor quality and getting what they are paying for,” Andrzejczak said.

The bill, A-1812, still needs final legislative approval, and will extend protection to farmers with heavy-duty equipment, in addition to the pre-existing passenger automobiles, emergency vehicles, and motorcycles.

While New Jersey is just introducing this bill, other states, such as North Dakota and Minnesota have laws in place to protect farmers, according to Barile.

The state law provides “relief for consumers who purchase or lease a defective motor vehicle” in New Jersey, and remains under 24,000 miles at the time. Also, it covers a malfunctioning vehicle that either causes a safety threat or impairs its use, or has defects that the manufacturer cannot repair.

It is unclear why farm vehicles, including tractors, and plows, were not included in the New Jersey ‘Lemon Law’ until now, according to Assemblyman Whip Wilson (D-5), but the state wanted to find a way to protect farmers as well.

“When you buy these pieces of equipment, they are expensive for farmers. It’s like buying a new car and wanting to protect it as much as possible — we wanted to help the farmers in this way,” Wilson said Monday afternoon.

Pilesgrove Township farmer Kevin Eachus stressed the importance of having equipment that functions properly, especially vehicles that are key in agriculture and his work.

“It’s frustrating when there is an engineering flaw, not a lack of maintenance, but in the design. Anything that helps agriculture and the farming community, like this bill, will really help to give that extra protection,” Eachus said.

Brittany Wehner may be reached at bwehner@southjerseymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittanymwehner. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.

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Hyundai Can't Squeeze Out Of Lemon Law Suit – Law360 (subscription)

By Emily Field

Law360, New York (January 15, 2015, 1:29 PM ET) —
A California federal judge on Wednesday trimmed claims from a proposed class action accusing Hyundai Motor America of improperly holding refunds in buybacks of defective cars, dismissing claims that the carmaker violated state lemon laws by taking a mileage offset out of the buyback price.

U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton dismissed with prejudice lead plaintiff Lori Robbins’ claims that Hyundai violated the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act — known as the lemon law — saying that the law entitled the Korean car maker to a mileage offset once she asked for reimbursement. The judge also dismissed with prejudice lemon law claims that it failed to repair her car within 30 days and improperly deducted costs for wear and tear, but refused to dismiss her claims that Hyundai improperly calculated the mileage offset and warranty and state unfair competition claims.

“Therefore, despite plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary, it is clear that Song-Beverly expressly provides for a mileage offset under these circumstances,” the judge said. “While defendant was unable to repair the vehicle within 30 days, it also was unable to repair the vehicle after six separate attempts. Plaintiff does not contend that defendant did not make ‘a reasonable number of attempts.’”

The judge had dismissed Robbins’ proposed class action against Hyundai in August, saying she could amend her lemon law and Magnuson-Moss Warranty claims.

The judge’s ruling keeps Robbins’ amended complaint, filed Jan 2., alive. She alleged that, after a string of repairs failed to fix problems in her new car, she asked for a reimbursement from Hyundai, but Hyundai improperly calculated and deducted mileage costs.

The Song-Beverly Act requires a car maker who’s unable to repair a car after a “reasonable number of attempts” to either replace the car or refund the customer, less the amount of use, according to the judge.

“While defendant was unable to repair the vehicle within 30 days, it also was unable to repair the vehicle after six separate attempts,” the judge said. “Plaintiff does not contend that defendant did not make ‘a reasonable number of attempts.’”

The judge refused to dismiss Robbins’s claims that Hyundai charged $500 more than it should have for the mileage offset.

Robbins had first taken her car in for repairs in March 2013, and again in May, according to the ruling. Hyundai seems to have calculated its mileage offset from the odometer reading in May, the judge said.

The judge rejected Hyundai’s argument that the engine issues she complained about in March were solved by the replacement of the entire engine short block assembly in June.

“She alleges that at the first repair visit she reported ‘that she needed to add engine oil and the car had sluggish acceleration and a knocking sound could be heard,’” the judge said. “While the repair facility was unable to verify these engine issues at this first repair visit, this does not prove that the vehicle was not experiencing the same engine problems that ultimately led to plaintiff’s request for reimbursement.”

Since Robbins sufficiently alleged that Hyundai improperly calculated the mileage offset amount, the judge refused to toss her claims that Hyundai violated state unfair competition and federal warranty laws.

Representatives for the parties didn’t respond immediately to request for comment Thursday.

The plaintiff is represented by Steve Borislav Mikhov and Mark D. O’Connor of O’Connor & Mikhov LLP and Karen E. Nakon and Payam Shahian of Strategic Legal Practices APC.

Hyundai is represented by Michael L. Mallow and Darlene M. Cho of Loeb & Loeb LLP.

The case is Lori Robbins v. Hyundai Motor America et al., case number 8:14-cv-00005, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

–Additional reporting by Lisa Ryan. Editing by Ben Guilfoy.

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