It’s been almost a year now since I have been regularly writing here and I’ve decided to list my Ten Favorite Wacky Comments that I have received. These are not in any particular order and I am sure I have missed a few. A couple are of a theme - comments I can count on getting anytime I write about a particular topic. Enjoy.
You ought to be allowed to yell Fire in a crowded theater. Yes, when I wrote a piece about the Italian Hall disaster, at least one person complained that any restriction on his “right” to cause a panic and kill people was an unlawful infringement on his 1st Amendment rights. Even if Oliver Wendell Holmes (and the Supreme Court itself) said otherwise.
There is no odometer fraud anymore. A used car dealer was adamant that odometer fraud is a thing of the past and he should know: He sells used cars! I never know how to address this kind of reasoning. Odometer fraud is alive and well in America despite my efforts – and the efforts of others – to put an end to it.
Lemon law buybacks are great vehicles to buy used. Whenever I mention lemons, someone chimes in and says that they (or a friend) bought a lemon and it was “the best car” they “ever owned.” That is possible but you do know that thing about whether an exception can prove a rule? I never say Every single lemon out there is undriveable. I merely point out that many of them are, and many are sold to unsuspecting buyers who also have problems with them.
Manufacturers routinely buy back nondefective cars from customers as a matter of “goodwill.” This one is amazing and was even propagated by some other writers here. No, manufacturers do not buy back nondefective customer cars. If they did, why would they put up such a fight on the defective ones? There are a million problems with this one but I see it from time to time – usually being made by guys who buy cars at auction and re-sell them.
If a brand new car gets damaged in shipping to the dealer, the manufacturer will have it crushed. This one pops up from time to time and is the product of extrapolation. There are a couple documented cases of cars which were indeed destroyed because they were damaged in transit. But again, that does not prove they all are. And based on the number of cases I have seen of cars being sold with obvious repairs (from in-transit damage) many get through.
If your car is in a collision – no matter how minimal the damage – you can demand that the insurance company replace it due to its otherwise “diminished value.” I was kind of surprised by this one since I had never heard it before but someone posed this logic: Since any damage to your car might show up on Carfax, the car remains “damaged” even after it is repaired. One commenter heard that his friend’s friend had made this claim and several other commenters claimed it is how things are. But no one stepped forward to say they had managed to do this. And thus, urban legends are born.
If you are involved in a car accident and show your proof of insurance to the other party, you are admitting guilt. I’ll admit, only one person wrote this but he adamantly argued for half a dozen comments about how you flash your papers at the other party (but don’t let them get your information!) When the police show up they will assume that the party who has the other party’s information is not at fault because only guilty-minded people would so willingly give up their info. I kid you not.
Defendants who face frivolous lawsuits will pay lots of money to a Plaintiff just to make the case go away. This one pops up occasionally. If I give an example of a successful case I had, people will always ask, “But what if you had actually gone to court on that?” And the follow ups are always in the vein of “Defendants just pay to make cases go away.” Ummmm. These cases do all “go to court” and no, Defendants rarely pay money just to make frivolous cases go away. Defendants facing frivolous cases go to court and ask the court to order the Plaintiff and the attorney to be sanctioned and pay the fees and costs of the frivolous case. If this wasn’t true, attorneys wouldn’t bother looking for good cases and would just sit there and file frivolous ones and rake in the money.
Most car buying problems at used car dealerships are caused by the consumers lying to the salespeople. This is a common one also. Why do dealers steal back the car they sold you? Not because they are trying to extort money from you – it’s because you lied about your income! Wait – didn’t the dealer ask to see proof of income? Oh, they delivered the car before seeing proof? And the buyer exaggerated? Assuming that is true – why can the seller “exaggerate” all day long but not the buyer? Just curious.
And finally: This has happened so many times I have lost count. I tell a story and make a general statement. “X is generally true.” Someone will always respond, “I know a time when X was not true. Therefore, you are wrong.” I won’t go into a logic dissertation here but No, your one example does not disprove my general rule.
Did I miss any? Feel free to comment below – the crazier, the better. And the pic at the top is just what I look like when I respond to wacky comments in real life. That's me on the right. I'm sure the guy on the left did not make the wacky comment I am responding to in the pic.
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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 23 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.
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