Great story in an intriguing San Diego nonprofit news outlet about what happens when you try holding a car dealer accountable. Thanks to the US Supreme Corp's love affair with arbitration -- the dispute resolution method intended for parties in parity with each other, and typically for those who need to keep dealing with each other -- consumers increasingly find that they have signed away their constitutional right to a civil trial. When you get ripped off by a big company these days, most often you will find that they have locked you into an arbitration agreement where they not only get to keep you from having the dispute heard by a jury of your peers, they also get to choose the forum. And since the big companies are the only repeat players in the game, guess who the arbitrators (who are themselves totally unaccountable to you) worry about pleasing? Hint: It's not you.
Despite the cool certificate, the admission itself is nothing much -- it's what you can do with it that makes it worth having.
I have a client with a case that really needs to be brought in federal court. So, despite my strong preference for my walking commute and my distaste for hauling up and down the valley as part of the workday, it's off to federal court I go.
I appreciate the opportunity that my veteran client has given me to bring a substantial case that I think will right a substantial wrong. It even makes getting up in time to catch a train at 0642 worth it. Thank goodness for Amtrak.
“What we have today is a vicious system of drive-by lawsuits,” says John Gear, a Salem consumer lawyer. “Debt buyers acquire spreadsheets full of incomplete information and turn them over to some legal minion and say, ‘Sue them all.’” (Read more)
I was impressed by Ms. Gunderson's wish to help her readers and explain things to them correctly -- a difficult task when writing about the law in the few words allowed in a column. I wrote her a note thanking her for mentioning me, and added two suggestions: One, we didn't discuss the small claims court limit, so I didn't know she had found something with the old, lower limit of $7,500. The current limit for small claims court is $10,000. Second, I wish I had thought of NACA.net when we spoke and she asked me how consumers could find an attorney to help with a defective product or service. NACA -- National Association of Consumer Advocates -- attorneys are likely to be much more experienced in handling consumer problems, and NACA attorneys (like me) are all committed on the consumer side of things: to join NACA, you have to agree that you won't represent any business against a consumer.
"Never forget, the law is never settled until it is settled right, it is never right until it is just, and it is never just until it serves society to the fullest."
Note the attempts to make it seem to come from a government source
The folks who prey on the elderly -- the Elderscammers -- never tire of trying to make their scam letters appear to come from an official source (anything that will get you to open them). When you get mail in an envelope that looks like this, your best bet is probably to recycle it immediately without even opening it.
If you are really torqued about their deceptive technique and want to make it a bit more expensive for them, here's one thing you can do: Open the envelope, but only so that you can find out if there is a postage-prepaid "Business Reply Envelope" inside (there often are). If there is a BRE, take a dark marker and write "STOP SENDING ME JUNK" on the reply card, and draw a big X over the part where they want you to give them all your personal information. Then stuff everything they sent you into the BRE, seal it, and drop it in the mail. This has proven remarkably effective at getting them to stop sending me any such junk. Sadly, all my elderly neighbors and friends keep me well supplied in examples of this kind of scam. (This one was another come-on for funeral expenses insurance, the biggest ripoff this side of waterline insurance plans.)