Each year the Attorney General’s Office in each State publishes a list of the top consumer complaints. These annual lists are compiled from written complaints and calls the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division receives during the year. These lists are compiled into one National list and auto sales, auto repair and auto warranties all made the National Top 10 list of consumer complaints in 2008.
State Attorneys General are a leading consumer protection force in the US and one of their responsibilities is the enforcement of consumer protection laws. Every state has a consumer protection statute prohibiting deceptive acts and practices in areas such as debt collection, auto sales and repair, telemarketing and misleading advertising and it is their job to enforce those laws.
Although the national list for 2009 is not yet available, several States have published their lists. In Ohio, complaints about motor vehicles top the list and Lemon Law violations are at number six on the Michigan State Attorney General’s list. The Office of Consumer Affairs in Massachusetts has Lemon Law violations at number four on their 2009 list and they recently offered a few tips to consumers to help them avoid being tripped up by the same issues in 2010.
1. The lemon law covers only serious defects – those that impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle. To qualify for protection under the Lemon Law you would have to prove that the value, use or safety of the car is impaired.
2. The “term of protection” varies depending on the warranty, and state in which you reside. Coverage on used vehicle purchases depends on the age and mileage on the car.
3. Before your car is considered a “lemon,” you must give the manufacturer or authorized agent a “reasonable number of attempts” to repair the substantial defects. The number of repairs is usually at least three, but where there is a serious safety defect, the vehicle may be presumed to be “a lemon.”
4. Be sure to keep complete and accurate record of all contacts with the manufacturer and dealer. If the car is suspected to be a lemon, time is essential in reclaiming the full value of your investment.
5. If you believe your car is a lemon and the dealer does not offer you a refund or replacement, contact a lemon law attorney right away to see if you qualify.
Fighting for your rights when you find you have a lemon vehicle on your hands can be tough - manufacturers and dealers can put you through what we call ‘the gauntlet’. In dealing with a defective vehicle, and what could potentially be a recall, they use deception, delay and occasionally fraud. An experienced lemon law attorney or consumer advocate can help you negotiate with the dealer or manufacturer and get either a settlement or, if necessary, take your case to court.