Jeffrey Goldberg’s report in The Atlantic, “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,” met with flat denials by the White House. But President Trump’s actions speak louder than his words. In addition to the many other incidents that have been covered by news organizations, where Trump disparaged members of the Armed Forces, and viciously attacked Gold Star families, there’s another action he took, that goes beyond his words to demonstrate an appalling level of contempt for the military community.

If you have any lingering doubt that President Trump treats America’s brave, patriotic military heroes like “suckers,” please consider this:

President Trump ignored the voices of the entire military community and sold out our brave military heroes and veterans to greedy, unscrupulous corporate scofflaws like Wells Fargo that engage in predatory and illegal practices and have a history of preying on military service members, veterans, and their families.

Those predatory, illegal practices often create financial readiness problems that can cause members of the Armed Forces to lose their security clearances, harming their military careers, costing our nation the full benefit of their extensive training and expertise, and jeopardizing our national security.

Pres. Trump even hosted a signing ceremony in the White House with representatives of unscrupulous, predatory banking interests — behind closed doors — to celebrate his shameful, anti-consumer, anti-military act. Then the White House released a photo, showing him surrounded by gleeful GOP representatives of Congress and banking trade associations whose member banks have been repeatedly caught violating state and federal consumer protection laws, scamming their customers and engaging in massive fraud.

President Trump holds signing ceremony with Republican members of Congress and lobbyists and representatives of banking interests, signing anti-consumer, anti-military legislation opposed by The Military Coalition.
 
Pres. Trump's signature on HJ Resolution 111 means that our nation's military heroes are denied basic, precious Constitutional rights they risk their lives and sacrifice to defend.

Those are legal rights that others — such as car dealers — were granted by Congress, and that President Trump himself has exploited to the hilt, as the most litigious president in U.S. history, while denying the same rights to members of the Armed Forces.
 
President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Republican Members of Congress killed the Obama Administration Rule That Would have Freed Wronged Consumers, Including Military Service Members, to Fight Back in Court Against Corporate Scofflaws That Rip Them Off
 
In 2016, The Military Coalition, a consortium of uniformed services and veterans organizations representing more than 5.5 million current and former servicemembers and their families and survivors, spoke up publicly for ensuring access to justice for all, including active duty military service members and veterans.

The Coalition includes familiar household names such as AMVETS, the National Military Family Association, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. They united in an effort to help ensure that military service members are free to join forces to defend themselves from illegal acts committed by unscrupulous banking interests, predatory lenders, and crooked debt collectors.

The military organizations urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to finalize a proposed rule to restore the Constitutional right to band together and fight back in an open court of law against corporate lawbreakers who prey on military personnel. Greedy, unpatriotic corporations like Wells Fargo.
 
Wells Fargo Preyed on Military Service Members
 
The scandal-riddled bank got caught illegally seizing vehicles from active duty military service members without even bothering to get a court order — a blatant violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

CNN News: Wells Fargo illegally seized soldier Dennis Singleton's car, while he was about to leave for duty in Afghanistan.
The SCRA has always enjoyed widespread bi-partisan support. It’s aimed at ensuring that military servicemembers can focus on defending our nation and fulfilling their mission without the stress and distractions posed by financial issues that are often very difficult and time-consuming to resolve, even for consumers who are not serving in a remote location half way around the world, on a submarine or aircraft carrier in the middle of an ocean, or in the midst of a war zone.

During the Obama Administration, federal investigators were alerted about a complaint that a North Carolina member of the Army National Guard, Dennis Singleton, filed with the Army’s Legal Assistance Program. He told the Legal Assistance attorney that Wells Fargo suddenly repossessed his car in 2015, just as he was deploying to Afghanistan to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom. Wells Fargo sold his car at an auction, then sought a deficiency balance of over $10,000 from him and his family — leaving them with no car, trashed credit, and a huge debt.

The investigators corroborated his complaint. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, they also uncovered “a pattern of unlawful repossessions spanning over more than seven years.”

Under fire from the DOJ, Wells Fargo eventually admitted it had illegally seized over 400 vehicles from active duty troops, without giving them any opportunity to defend themselves in court. The DOJ also charged Wells Fargo with violating the federal law against exceeding the 6% interest rate cap on loans to service members, making them more likely to default. Wells Fargo finally agreed to pay the harmed military personnel $4 million, repair their credit, and refrain from violating those laws in the future.
 
 
But there’s more....
 
Army Staff Sergeant Jin Nakamura was stunned to find out, while he was serving overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom, that Wells Fargo had seized his 2006 Nissan Altima - even though he had arranged for direct payments from his account before he was deployed to his new duty station.

Staff Sergeant Jin Nakamura served our nation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. While he was serving our nation, Wells Fargo illegally repossessed his car.
 
It wasn’t until later, when Staff Sergeant Nakamura filed a private, civil class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and other service members who were also harmed by the same illegal practices at Wells Fargo, that the cases of over 400 more active duty military personnel came to light. In a shocking display of hutzpah, Wells Fargo was busily ripping them off the same way, and seizing their vehicles, while the DOJ’s investigation was actually already underway.

According to Staff Sergeant Nakamura’s attorney, Bryce Bell, the contract that the Staff Sergeant signed when he bought his car did not include a clause that would have forced him to submit his case to the unfair, rigged system dominated by crooked corporations, known as “arbitration.” So he was free to fight back against Wells Fargo in an open, public court of law.

Staff Sergeant Jin Nakamura fought back against Wells Fargo not only on his own behalf, but on behalf of hundreds of other military Servicemembers who were harmed by Wells Fargo's illegally seizing their vehicles.
Sergeant Nakamura had to return to the mainland U.S. twice, from his duty station in South Korea, to represent the members of the class action, and gave up substantial personal leave time to meet with attorneys and give a deposition. He could have simply settled with Wells Fargo on his own behalf. If he had, he would probably have received more money. But instead, he chose to fight back on behalf of hundreds of other military Servicemembers who were also harmed by Wells Fargo's illegally seizing their vehicles.

He succeeded in getting Wells Fargo to refund $5 million in compensation the bank owed him and and more than 400 other military service members. To settle his class action, Wells Fargo agreed to refund each member of the class action $12,300. Terms of the settlement can be found here: Nakamura v. Wells Fargo.

That freedom to join forces in order to fight back against such scams, like Staff Sergeant Nakamura did on behalf of hundreds of other brave Members of the Armed Forces, is super-important for active duty military personnel. That’s because they may not be able to fight back at all, if they must act alone — especially if they are serving in a remote location or a war zone.

That freedom was guaranteed by the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but radical, controversial decisions issued by Republican-appointed Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have robbed wronged workers, consumers — including military Servicemembers — and small business owners of their right to fight back in a court of law.

Under the leadership of President Obama’s appointee Richard Cordray, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sided with pro-consumer groups and the military organizations, and issued a rule that would have restored that Constitutional right in a major way, freeing victims of predatory lenders and crooked banks to band together and fight back in court. But it was immediately under attack.

Crooked banks, along with Republican Senators and Representatives who benefit handsomely from their campaign cash, cooked up a scheme to kill the consumer watchdog agency’s rule in Congress before it could even take effect. Their goal: to let crooked banks get away with ripping off American consumers — including members of the Armed Forces — with little or no fear of being held accountable.

So the lawbreakers could evade having to face the music in an open, public court of law, where judges and juries are tasked with applying the law, the banks were dead-set on depriving American consumers and military Servicemembers of their Constitutional rights and forcing them to submit to a rigged, privatized “alternative” system dominated by the greedy, lawbreaking special interests themselves — called “forced arbitration.”

 
The Military Coalition: "Forced arbitration is an
Un-American system... rigged, secretive..."
 
When the CFPB proposed the rule, The Military Coalition wrote in support:
 
“Forced arbitration is an un-American system wherein service members’ claims against a corporation are funneled into a rigged, secretive system in which all the rules, including the choice of the arbitrator, are picked by the corporation. Found in almost every financial services contract, forced arbitration clauses systematically include a provision banning the rights of consumers to band together to hold a corporation accountable. Given the exponential and expansive use of these clauses by financial institutions in contracts with service members, prohibiting the practice of forcing service members to surrender fundamental Constitutional and statutory rights through the use of pre-dispute forced arbitration clauses is now more critical than ever.

Our service members protect our nation against both foreign and domestic threats. The sacrifices and logistical undertakings they and their families make in order to serve are compelling reasons alone to ensure they are not only shielded from predatory financial practices and unscrupulous lenders, but are also able to enforce their congressionally mandated rights through our civil justice system if and when violations arise.

However, class action waivers work against these rights. They are particularly abusive when enforced against service members, who may not be in a position to individually challenge a financial institution’s illegal or unfair practices because of limited resources or frequent relocations or deployment. Furthermore, for those service members on active duty and serving overseas, it is critical to retain the ability to get justice without having to interrupt their service and distract their attention from the mission at hand. Since these types of service members cannot participate full time in pursuing an individual claim, being able to enforce their rights through the class action mechanism is essential. Thus service members should receive the benefits of participating in a class action despite their inability to shoulder the burden of bringing a claim alone.

Our nation’s veterans should not be deprived of the Constitutional rights and freedoms that they put their lives on the line to protect, including the right to have their claims heard in a trial by a jury when their rights are violated. The catastrophic consequences these clauses pose for our all-voluntary military fighting force’s morale and our national security are vital reasons for the CFPB to act quickly to finalize the regulations.”
 
But instead of siding with The Military Coalition, the GOP sided with the crooked banks and predatory lenders.

The Republican majority in Congress decided to exploit a rarely used law, the Congressional Review Act, to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule. That allowed them to undo the rule with a simple majority vote, avoiding a filibuster in the Senate. Using that arcane Act also had the added impact of prohibiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from issuing a similar rule in the future, unless Congress specifically allows the agency to revisit the issue.

The legislation to overturn the rule, House Joint Resolution 111, was hotly debated on the Floor of the House of Representatives. Then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other pro-consumer, pro-military champions spoke forcefully against the measure. All of the Democrats sided with consumer advocacy organizations and the military, and voted NO. But all of the Republicans, with the lone exception of Rep. Walter Jones, who had served in the North Carolina National Guard, voted AYE, and the resolution passed in the House and moved on to the Senate.

Once again, the resolution was hotly debated. Democratic Senators, including Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a distinguished U.S. Army Veteran, spoke eloquently in defense of preserving the rule. Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate Floor, blasting the legislation and quoting from letters from military groups, raising their voices for all to hear.
 
 
When the vote was taken, all the Democratic Senators sided with the military coalition and voted NO, to preserve the rule. Only two Republican Senators, Lindsey Graham and John Kennedy — both attorneys — voted NO. All their GOP colleagues voted AYE, siding with the crooked banks, resulting in a tie. For a brief time, the future of the CFPB’s rule hung in the balance.

In a historic moment of high drama, Republican Vice President Mike Pence rode to the Capitol to break the tie, arriving on the Senate Floor around midnight. He voted AYE, siding with the crooked banks, and against the military, sending the measure to President Trump’s desk.

To his shame, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who had championed the successful effort in Congress to grant car dealers a special exemption from forced arbitration and restore the Constitutional rights of car dealers to have their cases heard in a court of law, voted against restoring those same rights to regular citizens and members of the Armed Forces.

Our nation’s military doesn’t often ask anything from their Commander in Chief. In return for their selfless, immeasurable sacrifice and deep devotion to keeping our nation safe and defeating our enemies, they rarely ask their Commander in Chief for anything in return, other than to have their backs.

But in a rare move, the military community asked President Trump to veto the measure. The American Legion publicly announced their decision to call on him for a veto, declaring:
 
"Legion calls on Trump to veto measure that strips servicemembers and veterans of vital financial protections"
"The leader of the nation’s largest veterans service organization expressed concern over the loss of financial protections for veterans and servicemembers in the wake of a U.S. Senate late night vote on Wednesday.

Fifty-one members of the Senate voted to overturn a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule on arbitration agreements intended to provide consumers with an opportunity to sue in court when they have been harmed by financial institutions.

'Every servicemember and veteran should have the right and responsibility to confront predatory loan practices,' said American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan. 'We will not be silent while banks and payday loan shops rip off servicemembers and veterans.'"
But President Trump utterly ignored their pleas. Instead, he signed that travesty into law. Among the invited guests who smiled down upon Pres. Trump as he signed the anti-consumer, anti-military measure: GOP members of Congress and a representative of an enormous banking trade association that includes banking interests like Wells Fargo.

Because of the Republican members of Congress, Vice President Pence, and President Trump, scofflaw corporations continue to trample on the Constitutional rights of our military heroes. Crooked banks remain free to force our nation’s military Servicemembers to submit disputes to an unfair, rigged, secretive forum that those special interests dominate — private, mandatory arbitration.

The laws to protect military service members as consumers are often ignored in arbitration. No matter how unfair the decisions rendered by the arbitrators are, there is usually no opportunity to appeal. Given how burdensome and rigged arbitration is, it’s rarely even used for consumer cases.

So whenever President Trump or Vice-President Pence proclaim their supposed fondness and regard for our nation’s military Servicemembers, please keep in mind that when the chips were down, they eagerly, gleefully went out of their way to betray them to their lawbreaking Big Bank buddies.
 
 
As wildfires rage in California fueled by climate change,
CARS works to speed up switching from gas-guzzlers to newer, safer
Zero-emission electric vehicles
CARS is playing a major, pivotal role in working to win passage of legislation in California to make zero-emission electric vehicles more accessible and affordable, so consumers, businesses, and government agencies can access EVs via short-term memberships, freeing them from having to make large down payments or enter into risky, expensive long-term loans or leases.

This session, CARS worked closely with environmental group allies and the authors of AB 326, championed by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, and co-authored by Senators Ben Allen and Nancy Skinner, and Assemblymember Phil Ting, who are known for being pro-environment leaders.

  Pro-consumer, pro-environment legislation in California will speed up the switch from gas guzzlers to zero-emssion EVs.
 
CARS helped build a coalition to join in supporting AB 326, after negotiating successfully for many pro-consumer safeguards, winning support from CARS, and eventually also from the Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumer Action, CALPIRG, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, and the California Reinvestment Coalition. As CARS President Rosemary Shahan and Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the Coalition for Clean Air, wrote in an op-ed published in CalMatters:
 
"A plan to expand access to electric vehicles"
 
"Consumer and environmental organizations are joining forces with electric vehicle manufacturers to support urgently needed legislation to allow California consumers to access zero-emission electric vehicles through innovative, affordable, short-term, renewable memberships.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Democrat from Torrence, and Sen. Ben Allen, Democrat from Santa Monica, are championing Assembly Bill 326, which would establish a framework for 'Electric Vehicle Memberships' and provide easy access to EVs by allowing manufacturers to offer short-term memberships to consumers. The memberships will include registration, maintenance, charging and an insurance option, and provide a more affordable alternative to buying, leasing, or renting an electric vehicle – with no long-term financial commitment.

This legislation will also help overcome the car dealers’ near-total monopoly on sales of new vehicles – with the sole exception of Tesla – and provide California consumers, businesses and government agencies greater freedom of choice for accessing zero-emissions vehicles while also helping to ensure that this new, innovative EV membership model is regulated appropriately.

The EV industry has already created more than 275,000 jobs in California, and AB 326 will help preserve and grow jobs in that industry.

Furthermore, AB 326 will help Californians who struggle to afford a safer, more environmentally-friendly car and are faced only with options that include a high-interest loan. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the ensuing economic uncertainty, business closures, job losses and unprecedented unemployment, many consumers are understandably risk-averse and leery of entering into long-term auto loans or leases.

Americans now carry more than $1.2 trillion in auto loan debt, an increase of over 75% since 2009. AB 326 opens up opportunities for more lower-income and disadvantaged consumers to break free from high-interest auto loans that are too often predatory or discriminatory, based on race.

In a recent nationwide study conducted by Volvo Car and The Harris Poll, consumers cited the upfront cost of EVs as a leading barrier to entry. AB 326 helps remove that barrier by making it more affordable for more Californians to drive EVs through a month-to-month membership without expensive long-term loans or leases.

In addition to alleviating affordability woes, AB 326 will help remove the other prominent barrier keeping many would-be EV drivers from considering an EV – “range anxiety” – a consumer’s concern over whether the range they can drive between charges will fit their lifestyle.

AB 326 will allow Californians to have an “extended test drive” of an electric vehicle with no long-term commitment and no money down. We believe, as shown by the Volvo Car and The Harris Poll study, that once a consumer tries an EV, range anxiety tends to dissipate within a few months.

AB 326 is proposed at a critical time when EV tax credits are expiring and will help clean up our air without additional cost to the state.

For all of these reasons, a broad coalition of EV manufacturers, consumer groups and environmental organizations are working together to support the passage of AB 326. The new car dealers and traditional auto manufacturers are the only opponents of AB 326. Unfortunately, the car dealers seek to hold onto their near-total monopoly over new car sales and are notoriously resistant to competition. But Californians suffering from pollution cannot afford to wait until the dealers and traditional manufacturers get over their resistance to progress in making EVs more accessible.

AB 326 is the right thing to do – for the air we breathe and for creating more jobs in California during a pandemic and economic meltdown – and we need this pro-consumer, pro-safety, pro-environment legislation now more than ever."

AB 326 almost passed, but the car dealers and Chamber of Commerce opposed it, and killed it on the last night of the legislative session.

The need for this pro-consumer, pro-environment legislation to help address climate change is all the more obvious during the catastrophic fire season that is plaguing California and the rest of the West Coast.

We're going to keep fighting and are determined to win. There's no time to waste.
 


CARS fights to stop deadly defects from maiming and killing car owners and their families
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety is working for enactment of potentially lifesaving auto safety legislation in Congress. The pro-safety bills are championed by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). If they are enacted, they will improve compliance with auto safety recalls, enhance reporting of serious defects, prevent distracted driving, and help stop deaths and injuries due to collapsing seat backs that kill babies, toddlers, and other children riding in the back seat -- even when they are buckled into child safety seats.

  Taylor Grace Warner was only 17 months old when she was killed by a collapsing seat back.
 
"In 2019, an estimated 38,000 people lost their lives in car crashes, while over 4 million people were seriously injured," said Senator Markey. "These numbers repeat year after year and reveal a public health crisis that we must not accept as inevitable. We can prevent these unnecessary tragedies with proven strategies and technologies. That's why I am proud to introduce a robust legislative package that will address several of the most dangerous safety issues on our roads. As Congress debates infrastructure and surface transportation reauthorization, I will fight for these bills and ensure that safety is at the forefront of everything we do."

"Despite decades of auto safety advancements, it is still true that one of the most dangerous things you can do is get in a car," said Senator Blumenthal. "Senator Markey and I have partnered on a comprehensive package of legislation that will put safety back in the driver's seat - addressing dangerous auto recalls, defect investigations, distracted driving, and seat back standards. Any discussion of transportation programs must include steps to protect the lives of drivers and passengers, and these proposals are the right place to start.

The first bill – the Promoting Auto Recalls Toward Safety (PARTS) Act – increases the speed and effectiveness of motor vehicle recalls in the wake of lessons learned from the infamous Takata recall. The PARTS Act will specifically authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide grants to states for use in notifying registered motor vehicle owners about manufacturer-issued safety recalls, as well as require additional reporting and an annual scorecard on how effectively automakers are completing any recalls.

A copy of the PARTS Act can be found HERE.

The second bill – the Early Waning Reporting Systems Improvement Act – fills a safety gap created by the historically low number of defect investigations launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in recent years. The legislation ensures that auto manufacturers will provide more information about incidents involving fatalities and serious injuries directly to the public. It will also require NHTSA to make the information it receives publicly available in a user-friendly format, so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves. A copy of the Early Warning Reporting Systems Improvement Act can be found HERE.

The third bill – the Stay Aware for Everyone (SAFE) Act – tackles the threat of distracted driving; a problem that is only increasing with the proliferation of "driver assistance" technologies that can encourage complacency if misused on the road. The SAFE Act will specifically require the DOT to study how driver-monitoring systems can prevent driver distraction, driver disengagement, automation complacency, and the foreseeable misuse of advanced driver-assist systems, as well as require a rulemaking to mandate the installation of driver-monitoring systems based on the results of this study. A copy of the SAFE Act can be found HERE.

The fourth bill – the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act – addresses the thousands of preventable fatalities and life-threatening injuries that have occurred because of motor vehicle seat failure during a collision. The legislation will require NHTSA to update its standards for seat back integrity in new cars, an essential action that NHSTA has neglected to take for more than fifty years despite repeated horrific tragedies involving children and infants who were killed when the vehicles they are riding in are rear-ended, and the front seats collapsed on them.

Andy and Liz Warner and their children suffered a devastating loss when their daughter and sister, Taylor Grace Warner, was killed in 2010 at just 17 months old when the front seat of their family car collapsed on top of her when they were struck from behind.

"Tragically our family is not alone in experiencing this type of unthinkable loss," said the Warners. "Hundreds of children have been killed and many more have been seriously injured because of seat back failure. This could be prevented with action by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update the safety standard, which this bill would require. Senators Markey and Blumenthal have been advocating for auto safety and supporting the cause for change in honor of our daughter and the others needlessly killed or injured. Our family thanks them for their leadership on this issue and urges Congress to pass this legislation."

A copy of the Modernizing Seat Back Safety Act can be found HERE.

All four bills have been endorsed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Safety Research and Strategies, Safe Roads Alliance, EndDD.org, and StopDistractions.org. "Tragically, COVID-19 is not the only health and safety threat our nation faces," said Rosemary Shahan, President, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. "We applaud Senators Markey and Blumenthal for continuing to champion protecting motorists and their families from deadly defects that claim precious lives."

Read more: Senators Markey and Blumenthal champion auto safety legislation to reduce the carnage on America's roads
 


Santander to pay $550 million over predatory auto loans
 
Greedy subprime auto lending giant Santander is settling charges filed by 33 state Attorneys General and the District of Columbia, by paying $550 million.

The law enforcement officials charged Santander with engaging in predatory auto lending practices, including:
  • Approving auto loans Santander knew low-income car buyers could not possibly repay, resulting in an astronomical and devastating default rate of over 70%
  • Turning a blind eye to common scams that auto dealers engage in, such as falsifying loan applications to make it appear the used car buyers had far more income than they really had
"Santander profited by approving high-cost loans to disadvantaged auto buyers who were doomed from the start," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement.

As part of the settlement, Santander will provide over $99 million in relief to thousands of California consumers who Santander approved for its abusive high-cost loans.

  Subprime auto lender Santander deliberately doomed car buyers to have their vehicles repossessed
 
Consumers with the lowest quality loans who had defaulted as of December 31, 2019, and have not had their cars repossessed, will be allowed to keep their car and have any deficiency balance on the loan (up to a total value of $45 million in deficiency waivers nationwide) waived.

Santander will also waive the deficiency balances for certain defaulted consumers across the country, with approximately $433 million in immediate forgiveness of loans still owned by Santander, and additional deficiency waivers of loans that Santander no longer owns but is required to attempt to buy back.

When consumers default on auto loans, lenders like Santander swoop in and repossess their vehicles, often causing them to lose their jobs. When car buyers lose their only way to get to work, some become homeless. In states like California with huge areas that provide little access to public transportation, losing a vehicle can be a death sentence, particularly for people who are elderly or disabled, or live in rural areas or other parts of the state where they are unable to access health care without a car.

Did you have an auto loan with Santander? Or was your vehicle repossessed by Santander? We're very interested in hearing from you. Please contact CARS, so we can listen to your story and help prevent more people from falling prey to scummy subprime auto lenders.

Read more:

CBS News: Attorney General Becerra Announces Over $550 Million Settlement Against Nation's Largest Subprime Auto Financing Company for Deceptive Auto Loan Practices

Also: HUGELY popular, hilarious, and biting John Oliver video showing how unscrupulous auto dealers and lenders scam car buyers
 
 
Auto dealerships re-open - but is shopping there safe?
May 12, 2020
 
Buying cars at auto dealerships has always been risky. But especially now, when you may be exposed to Covid-19, the risks are even greater. Plus Covid-19 isn't the only health and safety risk you face if you shop at a car dealership.

Many auto dealers don't care enough about their customers' safety to take the simple step of ensuring that FREE safety recall repairs are done to fix deadly safety recall defects.

Auto dealers neglect to get free repairs done to fix killer defects like:
  • bad brakes
  • steering wheels that literally come off in the driver's hands
  • exploding Takata airbags that are like having a hand grenade go off in your face, causing blindness or bleeding to death
  • catching on fire
  • sticking accelerator pedals
So can you trust auto dealers to protect you from Coronavirus? Obviously, the answer is NO.


Even huge auto dealership chains like CarMax and AutoNation sell hazardous vehicles with safety defects that have killed hundreds of people and seriously injured thousands more.

They spend millions in advertising to lure car buyers to their stores, trumpeting that vehicles they offer for sale must pass an "inspection." They list over 100 components that are supposedly inspected. But don't be fooled. They routinely fail to fix components with serious safety recall defects that are likely to kill you or someone you love.

CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S. They raked in over $18 billion in revenue last year, and are publicly traded on Wall Street.

CarMax used to hire employees and task them with delivering recalled cars to nearby new car dealerships for free repairs. New car dealers liked to get the work. Auto manufacturers compensate their franchised dealers for performing safety recall repairs, so it's a money-maker for them.

Do Bill and Melinda Gates know that AutoNation deliberately sells consumers dangerous recalled cars with killer safety recall defects?
But then CarMax decided they could make more money by lowballing consumers who traded in recalled vehicles, then selling them rapid-fire for high retail as "CarMax Quality Certified" vehicles without waiting for the free repairs.

AutoNation is also publicly traded on Wall Street and boasts they are a Fortune 500 company with over $21 billion in revenue. Their largest investors include the trust controlled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

At first, AutoNation announced they would guarantee that all their vehicles were recall-free. But when Trump was elected, faced with competitive pressure from CarMax for investor dollars, they gave up and started selling dangerous recalled vehicles too.

The kicker: If you are injured or killed, or harm someone else because of an unrepaired safety recall defect, the dealers will blame YOU for buying a dangerous car from them.

Learn more:

CBS News: CarMax Accused of Selling Unsafe Vehicles

CBS This Morning: AutoNation Accused of Selling Recalled Cars

CARS tips: How to get a good deal on a nice, safe used car without the risks of buying from a dealer
 
 
Profiles in GREED:
Multi-billion $$ mega-dealers AutoNation, Penske, and Group One Grab
At least $144 million from Paycheck Protection Plan
Trump Administration Aided Giant Corporations in Exploiting Loophole
AutoNation, the nation's largest retailer of new vehicles, boasts that it's a "Fortune 500" company with 26,000 employees and stores in over 300 locations in 18 states. In 2019, AutoNation raked in over $21 billion in revenue.

The corporate behemoth is also publicly traded on Wall Street. According to Barrons, "Bill Gates remains AutoNation's largest shareholder. Through shares held by the [Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] trust and 18.4 million AutoNation shares that Cascade owns, the co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT) still has total ownership of 19.3 AutoNation shares, a 21.6% stake."
 
  AutoNation grabbed at least $77 million that was supposed to help small businesses survive during the Covid-19 lockdown
 
Penske Automotive, another giant auto dealership chain publicly traded on Wall Street, hauled in over $22.8 billion last year.

Group One Auto's annual revenue was $12 billion.

So how did AutoNation, Penske, and Group One grab at least $144 million from the U.S. Treasury's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), while struggling businesses like restaurants, beauty parlors, nail salons, print shops, booksellers, self-employed people, and other small businesses tried in vain to access relief that was supposedly going to help them keep the wolves from their doors?

The PPP was supposed to be limited to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. But AutoNation, Penske, and Group One exploited a loophole provided by the Trump Administration's Small Business Administration for mega-businesses with franchises in multiple locations, allowing them to each file for relief separately, even when they are all owned by the same conglomerate.

  If you're a small business owner, did Autonation grab your PPP cash before you could?
 
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) tutored its mega-dealer members on how to exploit the loophole, instructing them how to get around the 500-employee limit. The key to evading that limit was for the auto manufacturers to get a "franchise identifier code" from the Small Business Administration, so their dealerships could all masquerade as "small businesses" even when in reality they are enormous.

The NADA also engaged in various machinations to make sure all their dealer members, regardless their size, could apply for the taxpayer funds. The NADA brags that when the CARS Act was first passed, only about 25% of the U.S. auto manufacturers had obtained the coveted codes from the Small Business Administration. However, "in response to strong urging from NADA, all [the auto manufacturers] without codes quickly applied for them. And again in response to NADA's advocacy, the SBA has now granted all of those applications."

Basically, the NADA is trumpeting the fact that huge auto dealership chains exerted their influence with the Trump Administration, to get the SBA to expedite providing those handy "franchise identifier codes" in time to scarf up at least $144 million of taxpayer dollars before day care centers, ice cream parlors, pet sitting services, bakeries, or other mom and pop stores desperate for cash even had a chance.

Here are the NADA's tips:

The 500 Employee Size Limit in the Paycheck Protection Program Section of the CARES Act: How Does It Apply To Dealers?

In fact, AutoNation may have snatched even more. According to the Washington Post, "Documents show the company may have received even more money, a total of $95 million, spread across dozens of locations, an amount that would be more than triple the amount any company is known to have received through the fund." The article notes that "AutoNation disputes the $95 million figure."

AutoNation sells dangerous recalled used cars without repairing safety defects like exploding Takata airbags. Stephanie Erdmann was blinded in one eye by this life-threatening defect.
While AutoNation claims it has returned $77 million in taxpayer funds it scooped up from the PPP, without an independent audit of the program, they can hardly be believed. For weeks, while other corporations like Shake Shak and Ruth's Chris SteakHouse, facing a firestorm of protests, surrendered their ill-gotten millions. Meanwhile, ignoring the plight of small businesses and laid-off workers, AutoNation callously clung to the vast sums they seized from taxpayers -- until they were contacted by reporters from the Washington Post.

This is not the only way AutoNation is exploiting loopholes provided to auto dealers by the Trump Administration.

AutoNation is also jeopardizing public safety by deliberately selling its customers hazardous vehicles without repairing deadly safety recall defects first.

When Trump was elected, AutoNation's CEO Mike Jackson announced AutoNation was reversing its policy of guaranteeing a recall-free car, and commenced selling dangerous deathtrap vehicles -- including vehicles AutoNation knows cannot be repaired for prolonged periods, due to severe shortages of replacement parts.

Last fall, researchers for USPIRG Education Fund, the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation, and Frontier Group found that more than 1 in every 9 vehicles AutoNation offered for sale at 28 dealerships in 12 states, among 2,400 vehicles surveyed, had at least one unrepaired safety recall. Typical defects: catching on fire, faulty brakes, loss of steering, sticking accelerator pedals, and explosive Takata airbags that are ticking time bombs that spew shrapnel into drivers' and passengers' faces and necks, causing serious injuries including blindness and bleeding to death.

Read more:

Washington Post: AutoNation, a Fortune 500 company worth billions, says it received nearly $80 million in SBA funds

Automotive News: AutoNation retreats on used car recall policy

Also: Unsafe Used Cars for Sale: Unrepaired recalled vehicles for sale at AutoNation dealerships
 


Are car dealers exposing people to coronavirus?
March 23, 2020
 
Lara Gass died in a car fire Tuesday morning, March 18, 2014, on northbound Interstate 81 after a chain reaction wreck during icy conditions.
Many car dealers engage in reckless practices that put lives at risk. Like selling new or used vehicles without bothering to get the FREE safety recall defects fixed first. Tragically, some people have been seriously injured or killed by car dealers who sold them cars, trucks, or SUVs with deadly defects.

So it’s only reasonable to ask: Are auto dealers also exposing car buyers and their families to the coronavirus? Some car dealers are attempting to reassure prospective car buyers, who are understandably concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, not to worry. For example, AutoNation claims on Twitter that it ”can service and then sanitize your vehicle with Clorox® Total 360®.” The use of the term “sanitize” implies that there’s nothing to worry about.

Stephanie Erdman's life 'changed forever' when she lost part of her vision after a minor accident in her 2002 model Honda.
But how can anyone trust AutoNation, when their then-CEO told the whole world — right after Pres. Trump was elected — they were going to rev up their sales of seriously defective recalled used cars? Especially vehicles where there are no replacement parts available, so if you buy one of their “cream puffs,” there’s no way you can get it fixed, for weeks or months. Meanwhile, you are left to ride around in a potential deathtrap.

Last fall, Researchers found that more than 1 in 9 vehicles AutoNation was offering for sale at various stores across the nation had at least one unrepaired safety recall defect. Like faulty brakes, catching on fire, loss of steering, accelerator pedals that stick, stalling in traffic, hoods that fly up and obscure the driver’s vision, and many vehicles with ticking time bomb Takata airbags that explode like having a hand grenade go off in your car, causing devastating injuries such as blindness or bleeding to death.

If a huge car dealership chain that rakes in billions of dollars a year, is a Fortune 500 company, and touts Bill Gates as its biggest investor, will stoop to deliberately selling vehicles that grossly defective and unsafe, can you trust them to protect you from an unseen threat like coronavirus? Do you want to bet your life on it?
 
 
 
text resize Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size

C.A.R.S. Mission
CARS is a national, award-winning,
non-profit auto safety and consumer
advocacy organization working to
save lives, prevent injuries, and
protect consumers from
auto-related fraud and abuse.

THANK YOU!
to everyone who has supported CARS' work, including the more than 573,500 people who have contributed financially to CARS, signed or shared CARS' petitions, and / or posted personal comments.

Read more here
 

 
Follow us on Twitter    Follow us on Twitter
 

 
CarMax sells cars with deadly
safety defects.
More than 714,000 viewers have
watched this ABC 20/20 excerpt
on CARS' YouTube channel,
catching CarMax on camera:

Take Action
 
Sign C.A.R.S.' petition: Tell CarMax to stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers
Take Action

 
Find us on Facebook
 
Learn more
about the
CARS Foundation
 
Follow us on Twitter
 
Help tell the
world that
We NEVER Surrender!
 
 
Follow us on Twitter
 
Visit StopKillerCars.org today!
 

 
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.

 
Please Donate to CARS