If your brand new vehicle has a major problem that is not getting fixed it may be considered a lemon. In Ohio, vehicles that are under a year old or new vehicles with an odometer that reads less than 18,000 miles are considered a lemon if they have an unrepairable issue...
First-Knox National Bank applied our clients mortgage payments wrong after they were granted a loan modification with deferred interests and other charges. In this case, we learned that an employee must manually remove deferred interests from a loan when applying a mortgage payment...
The Ohio Lemon Laws protect consumers purchasing new automobiles and dealing with auto repairs. A new vehicle with one or more serious issues is considered a “lemon”. Consumers purchasing used vehicles are protecteded under other consumer litigation laws.
In Ohio new vehicles are protected under the lemon laws for the first 12 months a consumer owns the vehicle or the first 18,000 miles the vehicle is driven. Whichever comes first ends the consumer’s protection period according to the lemon laws, although a consumer may sue years later as long as the issue was raised within this period. During this time the consumer has to ask a manufacturer to fix a problem before turning the issue into a legal matter. If the problem is considered a manufacturer error and cannot be fixed by the manufacturer within a reasonable time period, then the consumer might have the possibility to receive a refund or replacement. The manufacturer must provide a warranty that protects the lemon laws when the consumer is purchasing a new vehicle.
There are several situations that can determine whether a manufacturer has had a reasonable opportunity to fix a vehicle under the lemon laws. Manufacturers may be allowed at least three or more attempts to repair one problem and at least one attempt to repair a life-threatening problem. A vehicle that has been in a repair shop being fixed by a manufacturer for 30 days or had eight different problems repaired during the consumer protection period, is considered reasonable opportunity. After one of these scenarios has taken place, a consumer may request a replacement vehicle or refund.
A consumer choosing to receive a refund is entitled to a full refund of the purchase price. That price includes the entire amount paid on the new vehicle, transportation costs, and charges for the manufacturer services. Taxes, registration fees, license fees, warranty charges, and costs for credit insurance and financing is also included in the refund.
Consumers purchasing used vehicles are not protected by the Ohio Lemon Laws. Used vehicle dealerships cannot misrepresent the functionality of the vehicle when making a sale. If the vehicle was a previous lemon that was returned, then the dealership must notify the consumer. The dealership must also notify a consumer of the price, interest rates, mileage and previous sales history of the vehicle. Consumers also have the right to know if the vehicle was a rental or a salvage title. A salvage title has information stating whether the vehicle has been damaged in the past or considered a loss by a previous insurance company.
Mistakenly Charged Off
A bank charging off a person’s bank account is harmful to a consumer credit report. Sometimes charge-offs can mistakenly continue after a consumer has paid off their debt. Troy Doucet, the firm principal at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A., shares his legal advice on what a consumer can do to protect their credit report from a false charge off in Help! The Bank Charged Off My Debt – After I Paid It.
A charge-off is when the bank writes off the consumers loan on its accounting financial statements. Usually this action will appear on a credit report as a charge-off and can lower a consumer’s credit score. There are ways to correct a false charge-off appearing on a consumer bank statement and credit report.
A consumer should notify the bank when seeing an invalid charge-off on a bank statement. The consumer should question if money is still owed on a previous debt and the reason for the charge-off if it is disputed. A consumer who discovers a false charge-off on a credit report has the right to correct the problem under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The FCRA protects consumer right to have an accurate credit report distributed to lenders. A consumer can send a letter to a credit reporting agency such as TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian to request a change in false information. A consumer should provide all documents possible to support why the information is false. A credit reporting agency must then re investigate the credit report and verify with the consumer that the information was corrected. A false charge off on a credit report can substantially affect a consumers ability to receive a loan and low interest rates.
More information about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can be found in 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet.
Check out some of our related articles about credit report errors:
What you, as the Consumer, should know about vehicle repairs
Whether you have had to get your car fixed for minor issues, or needed a complete auto-repair, you have rights according to Ohio Law. The Ohio Administrative Code provides certain protections to consumers when it comes to getting their car serviced or repaired. The following are just some of the requirements under the code:
- Once you meet with the servicer in person, they must provide you with a form which indicates: (a) the date; (b) identity of the supplier; (c) your name and telephone number; (d) the reasonable anticipated completion date; and (e) if you requested, the anticipated cost of the repair or service. The form must also contain the following language:
- Estimate: You have the right to an estimate if the expected costs of repairs or services will be more than fifty dollars. Initial your choice:
____ written estimate
____ oral estimate
____ no estimate
- If you request a written or oral estimate, the servicer must provide you with the estimate before starting service or repair
- Your bill will not be higher than the estimate by more than 10% unless you approve a larger amount before repairs are finished.
- The servicer must obtain oral or written authorization from the consumer for the anticipated cost of any additional, unforeseen, but necessary repairs or services when the total cost of the repairs or services, if performed, will exceed fifty dollars.
- The servicer cannot represent that repairs or services are necessary if they are not.
- The servicer cannot fail to disclose to you prior to starting any service or repair, that any part of the repair or service will be performed by a person other than the services or his employees, if the servicer disclaims any warranty of the repair or service performed by that person. The servicer must also disclose the nature of the repair or service which that person will perform, and if requested by the consumer, the identity of that person.
Ohio courts have found that when a supplier has engaged in an act or practice declared to be deceptive by the code, the consumer has a choice of remedies, including rescinding the transaction, or recovering three times the amount of the consumer’s actual damages. In Grieselding v. Krischak, the Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit, affirmed the trial court’s award of $1612 in treble damages, plus interest and attorneys’ fees stemming from a mechanic’s failure to notify the consumer of repairs beyond the stated estimate.
These are just some of your rights as a consumer, among many. For more information see: O.A.C. 109:4-3-13, or call Doucet & Associates Co. LPA at (614) 944-5219.
How to Avoid and Fix Contract Disputes With a General Contractor
Many homeowners need a checklist on hiring a contractor to ensure the work gets done correctly. At some point, most homeowners will need to hire a general contractor for a home improvement project or addition to the property, but many do not know where to begin when searching, or what to look out for in order to avoid a contract dispute. The homeowner is the first and last line of defense when it comes to choosing the right general contractor, and deciding on the right one starts with proper research.
The internet offers myriad resources for reviewing and researching general contractors. Sites such as Google and Angie’s List offer ratings and reviews that can be helpful in deciding on which general contractors are trustworthy and capable. Additionally, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau register complaints made against businesses and general contractors. Homeowners can check to see if potential general contractors have any formal complaints, and avoid any potential contract disputes.
The State of Ohio does not require general contractors to be licensed, but most cities in the state do, such as Columbus. Homeowners can check with city websites to see if a potential general contractor is licensed and bonded. A bonded general contractor has some sort of financial policy in place to pay damages against them in the event of a lawsuit or contract dispute. While a general contractor does not need to be bonded to work, it is typically a sign that the general contractor is responsible, diligent, and most importantly, doing what they can to avoid a contract dispute. You should only hire a contractor who has an insurance policy in place, and any such contractor should be happy to provide you a copy.
Homeowners would be wise to have an idea of what permits or licenses will be required for their specific job. A good general contractor will know and include such expenses in a written estimate, but homeowners would be wise to take the time to research costs. An attorney can offer advice on which permits and licenses would be required for a specific job and how to avoid illegal behavior in completing a project.
General contractors will be able to offer items that help potential clients decide for themselves whether or not they are capable of handling a job. Many keep portfolios of projects they are proud of and regularly share with potential clients. A good general contractor will be proud of their work and will make available several satisfied past clients as references. Portfolios and references are excellent resources to help determine how general contractors interact with their clients, and whether or not they can complete the job in a way that is satisfying to the client.
Cost is always at the front of everyone’s mind in a home improvement project, and general contractors are aware of this. They will be able to provide written estimates of the job, including itemized lists of materials, labor estimates, and any miscellaneous costs that may incur, such as permits. Homeowners will want to get at least three estimates from three separate general contractors to get an idea of how much the job will cost.
After settling on a general contractor, homeowners can ensure the contract they sign is fair for all parties. A general contractor should not get more than 20% of the total cost of the job up front, and will should earn a ask for a 10-20% profit over the costs. All guarantees, warranties, and promises should be written in the contract. It is perfectly normal for general contractors to be paid in stages of completion with final payment contingent upon inspection from a third party. Homeowners can also prearrange to pay for materials with an agreed upon supplier and have them delivered to the site, removing the general contractor from the process entirely.
No advice can hold true for every situation, and homeowners should always consult with a professional if they are concerned that a general contractor may be taking advantage of them. Call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219 if you are concerned that a contract may be unfair, or if you need assistance unraveling a bad transaction or settling a contract dispute.
What Counts as a Lemon Car in Ohio?
Most of us know the term “lemon” refers to a newly bought car that turns out to be a dud, but some are unaware that many states have laws in place to protect against such lemon sales. A new car is worth a lot of money, and many people take out loans in order to pay for one. The prospect of bringing a new car home only to find that it is defective beyond use is terrifying. Luckily, Ohio is a state that has one of these lemon laws in place.
The State of Ohio’s Lemon Law legally defines a “lemon” as a new car with at least one problem that substantially impairs the use, safety or value of the vehicle and begins to suffer from the problem within the first year or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). Under the Ohio Lemon Law, you must give the manufacturer a chance to repair the vehicle. If during the course of the repairs your manufacturer:
- Works on the same problem in more than three separate instances in the first year or 18,000 miles.
- Works on the vehicle for more than a cumulative thirty days in the first year or 18,000 miles.
- Works on the same car in more than eight separate instances.
- Cannot fix any errors that can result in death or serious injury on the first attempt.
Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. recently handled a lemon law case for a client who bought a new vehicle, and almost immediately experienced issues with the gear shift. Additionally, she claimed the car would wobble when accelerating at low speeds. If these allegations proved true, the car would likely satisfy the conditions of a lemon under Ohio law, as these problems inhibited the usability of the vehicle.
She took the car to the dealership on four separate occasions hoping to fix the issues. However, the dealership was unable to permanently correct the problems with the vehicle. Doucet & Associates ultimately obtained justice for the client by securing the return and getting her a refund plus attorney fees. If you feel you may have a lemon on your hands and you have already made the necessary attempts to get the vehicle fixed, call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219.