Archive for July, 2007

Creative Consumer: Lemon Laws (ABC News)

Monday, July 30th, 2007
By ELISABETH LEAMY ABC NEWS Consumer Correspondent July 30, 2007 To the general public, a "lemon" is slang for a crummy car — one that gives you a sour feeling and puts a grimace on your face. To the government, a lemon is a crummy new car. This distinction causes a lot of confusion. Plenty of consumers contact me to complain about the lemons they've bought. The first thing I always ask is "New or used?" The callers always seem surprised. I guess they're wondering what could be wrong with a new car. The answer is plenty.  
Each state's lemon law is a little different. Generally, you must have purchased or leased the car brand new. In some cases you can make a claim if the previous owner bought the car a short time ago and then quickly sold it to you. Some state lemon laws only cover vehicles used primarily for personal use. Others include cars and sport utility vehicles but exclude motorcycles. Each state sets a time and mileage limit. For example, you may be required to make a lemon law claim within 15 months or 15,000 miles of buying the vehicle. Explore the lemon law in your state for details. Each state also defines what counts as a lemon. For example, in one state if the dealer can't correct critical brake or steering problems in one try, the car is considered a lemon. In another, a car is defined as a lemon if the dealer has tried and failed three times to repair a repeat flaw. In a third state, the lemon law covers new cars that have been in the shop for a cumulative total of more than 30 days. If you believe your car is a lemon, it's your responsibility to notify the manufacturer. Let the dealer know, too. I recommend doing so in writing, by certified mail. Once all the dealer's repair attempts have been exhausted, the manufacturer is required to repair or replace your car. Of course, many manufacturers fight this, and you may have to get help. Your state consumer protection office can give you guidance. Many manufacturers participate in arbitration, like the Better Business Bureau's Autoline program. If all else fails, you'll have to sue in court. Lemon law procedures should be outlined in your vehicle's warranty manual. Back to you used-car buyers. Some states now require vehicles that were returned as lemons to carry a permanent "brand" on the title. This lemon alert lets subsequent buyers know that they may be purchasing a problem car. If you believe your car may qualify, immediately send the dealer and manufacturer a certified letter putting them on notice that you may act under the lemon law. Don't wait — you don't want to miss the deadline. Mark your calendar for each day your new car spends in the shop. Keep detailed records of every repair and write down the names and numbers of everybody you speak with in connection with your claim. You can check to see whether cars of your make and model are the subjects of any recalls or service bulletins. To obtain a list, contact the Center for Auto Safety at (202) 328-7700 and/or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at (800) 424-9393. Also try going online and typing your make and model into a search engine.

RCA EZ201 Small Wonder 60 Minute Point-and-Shoot Camcorder

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

 RCA Small Wonder Point-and-Shoot Camcorder

Product Description


So simple that a child can use it (or teach a grown-up), the RCA Small Wonder MPEG-4 digital camcorder functions with one-button recording. Consumers can play, pause, delete, rewind, and fast forward clips on the color 1.5-inch LCD screen, which also flips out 180 degrees. The EZ201 offers up to an hour of recording with its on-board flash memory, which can be expanded up to five hours with the addition of an SD memory card (sold separately) that will slide easily into the unit’s memory slot. Two standard “AA” batteries provide up to two hours of continuous use (or more than seven hours with optional lithium batteries), making the EZ201 ideal for vacations and travel. EZ Grab feature enables the user to select any paused frame in any video and save it as a single. JPG or. BMP image to share with friends and family Included Accessories - Wrist Strap, Soft Carrying Pouch, Two AA Batteries, USB Extender Cable, A/V Output Cable


Customer Reviews:   Read 4 more reviews…

4 out of 5 stars Cool camera   July 12, 2007
2 out of 2 found this review helpful

This cool little camera won me over when I learned it had a slot for SD cards. Video quality is good when used in well-lit places. Video taken in low light gets blocky. Bottom line: this “2001: A Space Odyssey”-looking camera is priced right. You won’t stop using your main video camera, but for the price, you get a fun camera that you can always have with you.

5 out of 5 stars Great Camcorder for the $$$$   July 11, 2007
3 out of 3 found this review helpful

I Purchased the EZ 201, opened the box, didn’t read much as I usually dont lol, plugged in the usb to my computer Windows XP Pro and it downloaded the program right away!!
I was using the program and grabbing still photos out of the movies I downloaded within mins after I received the package in the mail,
For the ease of use I rate this a 10
For Price its got to be a 10 also
And the Picture Quality is great too, prob have to rate a 8-9
People have to remember its a $100.00 Camcorder NOT a 600-700.00 unit
For the Price you can’t go wrong, good to have with you in the glove box of your car for accidents, or anything else you’d need to photo..
I’m buying another!!!
Bill

4 out of 5 stars Small wonder compared   July 11, 2007
3 out of 3 found this review helpful

Ok, I was curious so I bought the Small wonder and the flip (FW160) to compare them side by side. The Small wonder does have the advantage of the SD card reader, plus the flip LCD. However, in dim lighting like around my house, the Small wonder has a pinkish/reddish look to the images (I tried two small wonders with same results). The Flip does do a better job in poor lit conditions color wise in my opinnion. You can see the small wonder gain up light more noticably when lighting gets darker, but the Flip did a smoother job at it and the image was brighter. The Flip also has a much brighter display that you can see much better outside. I wanted to keep the Small Wonder because of the adjustable LCD and the SD cards, but the resulting video with the red/pink tint in dim conditions was no good for me. But not all small wonder indoor video had the red cast, only with certain lighting conditions and it depended on what you subject was. People’s faces ended up with a sunburn look inside in certain light angles. Outdoors it did great. The Small wonder’s software was also a bit behind the Flip’s. The Flips allowed a larger video window for playing back the video, it was also just a bit more user friendly (better video making software with music). I will say that the Small wonder does a good job of updating firmware etc. One other thing about the Small wonder I liked was it’s usb connector was easier to connect to my PC because of it’s location. I still think the small wonder does a good job, I just think the flip is slightly better image quality wise. Ok, I plugged them both into two different TV’s. One was a small 20 inch and I will say they were both about the same (VHS quality was pretty good). You can notice that darker shots have artifacts/blocky but acceptable to me. I tried plugging them into a 50 inch plasma and must say the results are not too hot. While I could watch the videos, they were fairly poor (but this is probably expected for this type of mpeg4 camcorder). I plan to watch these videos on PC or smaller TV anyhow. I ended up keeping the Flip 60 minute version instead of the Small wonder.

1 out of 5 stars Disapointed Mac Pro consumer   July 7, 2007
3 out of 4 found this review helpful

We received an EX105 as a gift and were so impressed with it, we decided to ‘upgrade’ after giving it to our daughter for her recent trip abroad.

The EZ105 plugged into both my new PowerMac Pro and my wife’s XP Windows machine and intuitively downloaded the necessary software to work on each.

With the more expensive EZ201 -NOT !!

The camera was not immediatly recognized by the operating system and has difficulty with the Mac OS X+ and RCA’s notes indicate they are ‘working’ on a software solution. WHY did they not have the software READY before releasing the product?!

While the camera provides ease of use, not being able to easily upload your finished product to the computer is a MAJOR drawback!

ALSO - I note other retailers are giving a 1gb SIMM card -FREE with the purchase. That was NOT an option with Amazon. Disappointment all around.

5 out of 5 stars Great pocket sized video camera   July 6, 2007
2 out of 2 found this review helpful

I bought this camera after doing just a little research online. According to cnet.com, this camera uses the same technology as the flip video (RCA bought the rights). I chose this over the flip video for several reasons. First, it cost less. Second, it accepts a 2 gig SD card, expanding the recording time to 2.5 hours at high quality. Third, it has the flip out lcd screen for easy self recording. I just got back from a beach vacation and this little camera was great for recording the kids on the beach and in the water. I threw the camera in my pocket wherever we went. As for the quality of the video itself, it is not high quality. However, I think its just as good as my 8mm and about 1/5 the size. If you want a camera that you can use for weddings and graduations, this is not it. But if you want a camera that you can throw in your pocket to catch every day events, kids ball games, birthdays, etc., this is it.

Florida Lemon Law Hearings

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

The Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board resolves warranty disputes between Florida consumers and vehicle manufacturers. These automobile Lemon LAw hearings are held across the state before three arbitrators appointed by the attorney general. Most hearings last from two to four hours. Both sides can call expert witnesses and present evidence. All hearings are open to the public.

Drive Your Motor Vehicle Costs Down this Summer

Monday, July 16th, 2007

(ARA) - There’s nothing like the freedom of hitting the open road during the summer. The Travel Industry Association reported that Americans will take nearly 330 million trips during June, July and August, with auto travel accounting for eight out of 10 trips. With so many people enjoying the freedom of road trips this driving season, it’s important to start thinking about and planning ahead for them. And with eighty-one percent of Americans saying that they are interested in doing anything they can to stretch their fuel budgets, according to a survey conducted on behalf of Shell Oil Products, here are some tips from Shell on how to stretch your driving dollar:

* Drive smoothly. Avoid heavy acceleration or braking. Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower your gasoline mileage by 5 percent at lower speeds around town, and by 33 percent at higher highway speeds.

* Replace dirty or clogged air filters. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter with a clean one can improve gasoline mileage by as much as 10 percent. Your car’s air filter can protect your engine from impurities.

* Keep your engine well-tuned and repair any problems immediately. If your car has failed an emissions test or is noticeably out of tune, repairing the problem could improve your gasoline mileage by 4 percent on average.

* Make sure your tires are at the correct pressure and not over or under inflated. Proper air pressure cuts down on fuel used while driving. Keeping tires at the correct pressure can improve your gasoline mileage by about 3.3 percent.

* Choose a high-quality gasoline. All gasolines are not the same. Avoid low-quality discount gasolines that may allow performance-robbing gunk to form in your engine.

* Minimize vehicle drag. Keep your trunk and back seat clear of unnecessary items that only add weight. Removing excess weight can improve your gasoline mileage.

* Use cruise control on major roads and in free-flowing traffic. Maintaining a constant speed can improve gasoline mileage.

* Avoid idling. When you are idle, you get 0 miles per gallon.

* Avoid higher speeds. Gasoline mileage usually decreases when driving at speeds over 60 mph.

* Plan your outings to avoid separate trips. Combine your errands into one outing to avoid short separate trips. This helps avoid unnecessary cold starts and keeps your car’s engine running warm and more efficiently.

* Reward yourself by using a rebate credit card. Choosing the right card can help you save money at the pump. For instance, the Shell Platinum MasterCard from Citi Cards offers a 5 percent rebate on Shell gasoline purchases and a 1 percent rebate on all other purchases. At the national average of $3.10 per gallon (Department of Energy, as of May 15, 2007) for regular grade gasoline, cardholders earn 15 cents per gallon back on their gasoline purchases.

“Shell wants to help drivers make the most out of every fill-up, which is why we recommend adding FuelStretch driving techniques to daily routines,” says Michael Grundy, a Shell specialist who specializes in gasoline and vehicle efficiency. “While these tips might sound like a lot to keep in mind, you’ll be surprised how quickly they become second nature. Making a few small adjustments can help you become more fuel efficient, which means fewer trips to the gasoline station.”

To find more program tips and information, visit www.shell.com/us/fuelstretch.

Auto Ideas
With the rising cost of vehicle ownership, it is important to look into simple driving tips that can help you stretch your fuel budget. For example, because all gasolines are not the same, you should avoid low-quality discount gasolines that may allow performance-robbing gunk to form in your engine. For more easy-to-use tips and more information, visit www.shell.com/us/fuelstretch.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Market Leader Compli Rolls out New, Streamlined Version of Its Compliance Management System for U.S. Auto Dealerships (Business Wire via Yahoo! Finance)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
PORTLAND, Ore.----Compli® has launched a new version of the Compli Dealership Compliance Management System for automobile dealerships. The Compli DCMS controls, tracks, and automates regulatory compliance operations within and across dealerships to help ensure compliance with business and employment regulations and mitigate the costly risks of non-compliance.

Law Office of Richard Tomlinson Settles Class Action Lawsuit Against Drive Financial Services (SYS-CON Media)

Monday, July 2nd, 2007
Houston consumer protection attorney Richard Tomlinson has settled a class action lawsuit against Drive Financial Services, L.P. The suit, which represented a class of more than 1,150 Texas residents, accused Drive of violating numerous federal and state consumer protection laws while attempting to collect debts.