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The Latest Dirty Tricks by Dealers/Manufacturers

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  August 12, 2009

Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, a new method is devised by manufacturers and dealers to avoid their responsibilities under the lemon law. Manufacturers many times put limitations upon dealerships on how much they will pay to have warranty work performed. If the dealer didn’t get it right the first time, they may deny payment to the dealer claiming they should have done it right the first time. Or, they do not pay the dealer for diagnostic time to determine the true source or cause of a particular defect so it can be properly addressed. This causes mechanics to guess what the true source of the problem might be in certain situations, or worse yet think of reasons to deny the problem exists. In short, there is often a disincentive created by the manufacturer to have its dealer dig in and find the real problem and properly service the consumer.

The latest trick being pulled by manufacturers through their dealerships is to require that a consumer sign a Release of All Claims when the consumer comes in to ask for his repair orders that he may have thrown away. These repairs orders are the best evidence of a lemon law claim. Manufacturers and dealers know this. So, in an effort to thwart a potential claim, and in “exchange” for providing the back repair orders the dealer tries to get the consumer to sign a Release. They hope to use this against the consumer in the future if they were to bring a lemon law claim. Fortunately in many states, like California, a consumer cannot waive their rights, and this tact would probably fall flat on its face if tested in court.

Another trick recently uncovered is a spin off from the latest defensive craze employed by manufacturers – and that is to claim that tampering with wires or “outside influence” is causing the defect to exhibit itself. For example, you may have a check engine light coming on. You take it in and the dealer tells you that the that someone – maybe you, or another played with the wires under hood to cause the check engine light to come on, or the hesitation upon acceleration to occur. There may have been very few instances in this world where this actually happened, but the manufacturers and their dealers saw an opportunity to lay blame at the door step of many consumers where it is completely unfounded. They allege “outside influence” to pin the blame on the consumer and deny the warranty claim.

Where such an accusation appears to be completely unfounded, they might resort to telling the consumer there has been tampering with the vehicle and that the consumer must report the matter to the police to document the vandalism. What this effectively does is get the consumer to assist in creating a paper trail to bolster the basis of denying the warranty claim due to the “outside influence” that was probably a sham in the first place. Don’t fall prey to this new trick. In these days of corporate greed and cutting corners, it is amazing to the see the lengths manufacturers and dealers will go to save money by denying your warranty claim.

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