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Class Acts

Money Magazine Names Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety President Rosemary Shahan one of the “Class Acts” of 2004
 
By Amy Feldman, Jonah Freedman, Robert Kirwan, Ellen McGirt and Donna Rosato

 
Let us introduce you to a dozen unsung people who did right by you last year. Let us also remind you of a few who did not.

Who was looking out for your wallet last year? Who was gunning for it? Buried in the fine print of our financial lives---and lurking behind the curtain of any financial story—are people and organizations that make a significant difference to your family’s well-being. It so happened that last year we came across a heartening number of people and outfits that were making your life better: number crunchers and whistle-blowers taking on corporate misbehavior; business, government and nonprofit innovators doing their jobs really, really well under tough circumstances; and moneymaking outfits that in looking out for their own bottom line did yours a favor as well. There are also, as always, a few who dropped the ball—hard. Our thought in nominating our first-ever Class Acts and Crass Acts was to commend those who improved things for our readers over the past year. As for those who did the opposite—well, we figured you’d want to take a good look at them too.

Car Buying: She Put the Squeeze on Lemons -
Rosemary Shahan, President, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety


The one place you can count on finding Rosemary Shahan is on the driver’s side. Shahan has spent 25 years pushing for auto safety and car-buying fairness in the courts and the legislature, with California’s Lemon Law and mandatory air bags among her most notable victories. More recently, she helped pass a California law that, by requiring dealers to keep detailed loan records for seven years, should deliver a blow to deceptive lending practices. She hopes it—like the Lemon Law—will go national within the next several years.

Also in 2004, Shahan successfully helped create a state program that aims to prevent the growing spate of loan and auto scams targeting military families. Next up: Another fight for the vetoed Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights, which would outlaw hidden loan costs, among other dubious practices.

--Money Magazine, January, 2005


Find this article online at: money.cnn.com
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Buyer Beware! Auto dealers use
forced arbitration
to get away with cheating customers
Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
See the billboard CARS displayed
right next to Mossy Toyota's car lot,
and read more about how Jon finally won.

 
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