Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Sue them into dust" is a legal term. In Latin, it would be "Quid Voce Su-us Ex Dust-Oficio."

You don't see a lot of commercials for things like Dodge transmissions and how to repair them on TV. Instead, you see all these commercials on TV right now for a variety of car warranty and car insurance programs and the like, and each time I see them I think to myself That's the next wave of clients coming into my office -- people upset because they bought a car warranty from someone on TV, then had a problem with their car and couldn't get the warranty to cover it.

I know that's what tends to happen, because it happened to me. When I bought "Zippy," my old Ford Festiva, I got suckered into one of those extended warranty plans that covered "everything" I was told, and I paid a lot of money for it. Not long after that, Zippy developed engine trouble and I took it to the mechanic.

"It's the serpentine belt," he told me. To which I said, "What's that?"

"It's the belt that drives all your engine parts," he said.

Which made me happy, because I had an extended warranty that covered not only "everything" but things in the "drive train." So I called the dealership and asked to have the warranty cover it.

"We don't cover that," they told me, and after much wrangling about the meaning of the word "everything" and "drive train" and on and on, I ended up paying $800 to fix Zippy myself.

That was before law school, of course. Post-law school, I'd have paid nothing and sued that dealer into the dust. But not everybody has that option. So most people end up buying rip-off warranties and then complaining to lawyers about getting ripped off.

Here's an easier way to save money on car repairs: Go to GotTransmissions.com, and order the transmission you need right from them. Say your mechanic tells you they've got to to a Transmission Repair on your car 'cause your old one died. GotTransmissions.com has new, rebuilt, used, and remanufactured transmissions for all kinds of cars, and you can buy them from that site and have it shipped to your mechanic, saving you as much as 50% of the cost because you cut out the middleman.

It beats paying through the nose, it beats getting ripped off by fake warranties, and it beats hiring a lawyer. Although you should still hire a lawyer. That's always a good idea.

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