Articles Posted in Consumer Fraud

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Generally, when you buy a car and are promised a feature—like air conditioning, satellite radio, or navigation—you expect that feature to continue to work/exist AFTER you take your car off the lot. Well, this expectation seems not to be shared by the people over at Mazda, as 2016 Mazda vehicle owners recently found out.

When consumers purchased a 2016 Mazda vehicle, real-time navigation software was one of the features of the vehicle they were buying (or at least that’s what they were led to believe). In early 2016, however, that very same software stopped functioning for all Mazda vehicles. Or, to hear 2016 Mazda owners tell it:

Wife and I picked up a 2016 CX-F about a month or so ago, I’ve noticed that the navigation is having a lot of problems keeping a lock on the car. I drove about 10 or 15 miles to my doctors office this morning and the whole time the nav was shoing me either 2 or 3 miles off the interstate or it was thinking I was on a different road completely. It did this the whole way there, even going on a long straight on the interstate it would suddenly jump me off the road and took minutes to lock back on. I checked the GPS information and it was showing 7 or 8 locked sats on me and at high accuracy. Continue reading

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Has your plumbing gone awry? Do any of your home appliances use water supply lines from EZ- FLO International, Inc.? Well, that may not be just a coincidence. According to a number of consumers, EZ-FLO water supply lines—the flexible tubing that is either covered with braided stainless steel or brass, or non-braided plastic, used to supply water to faucets, dishwashers, toilets, ice makers and other household fixtures—have been at the center of leaks around the country­­. These water supply lines often look like this:

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Considering the number of different places EZ-FLO water supply lines can be located throughout our homes, this is important information for any consumer! Comments for dishwasher supply lines include:

 

It has only been installed for 5 months and already the water line is leaking just before the connector. It was a slow drip and ruined our wood floors.

All 6 water supply lines that came leaked and had to be replaced by new ones bought at [L]owes, products were cheap but are not I got what I paid for, I wish I could return just the water lines but I don’t think amazon will allow me to do that. Don’t buy this product unless you only need the power cord.

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Have you installed Rhino Deck composite decking in your outdoor area?  If so, like many consumers, you were probably looking for a low maintenance alternative to wooden decking.  And you may have been sorely disappointed.

Homeowners around the country are reporting that Rhino Deck products are failing despite proper installation.  Worse, the manufacturer, Master Mark Plastic, is generally refusing to stand behind its product.

Here is what people are saying:

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Trim boards can be great, particularly on the outside of a home.  They add detail and elegance at a relatively low cost.  Homes throughout the country sport them, but that also means that trim board often is exposed to heavy rain, snow, wind and sunlight, all of which can cause wood to rot, decay, swell and, ultimately, develop mold.  Once rot sets in, you can almost push your finger through the board, which has probably become as soft as a wet sponge to the touch.  And rotting trim boards will do little to improve your home’s look or value.

Trim board manufactured by WindsorOne appears to be a prime culprit.  Homeowners have reported that WindsorOne begins to warp, swell and rot shortly after installation and within the warranty period:

Windsor Mill guarantees WindsorONE’s end and edge-gluing for 10 years and its primer for 5 years. Windsor Mill will replace, without charge, any WindsorONE product that is installed according to directions and fails to meet this warranty within that time. Such replacement is the exclusive remedy for breach of warranty with no consequential or other damages recoverable. Continue reading

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Relaxer products are notorious for containing lye – a caustic ingredient that can burn skin and damage hair.  So hundreds of thousands of consumers took the bait when L’Oréal introduced its “NO-LYE” product known as SoftSheen-Carson Optimum Amla Legend No-Mix, No-Lye Relaxer.

L’Oréal’s relaxer is prominently labeled “NO-LYE” to target consumers seeking a gentler alternative.  The Amla Legend line is promoted as a collection of nourishing products infused with Amla oil, a luxurious oil “derived from the Indian Amla superfruit known as the Gooseberry, a powerful antioxidant rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals.”  L’Oréal markets the Amla Legend relaxer as a “Rejuvenating Ritual” which will provide “fuller, silkier hair” and “respect for hair fiber integrity.”

Large numbers of women big to differ.  Dissatisfied customers from around the country have posted their grievances online.  For example, when we at the Blog last checked, more than 70% of reviewers at Amazon.com gave L’Oréal’s Amla Legend relaxer the lowest possible rating of one star.  Comments included:   Continue reading

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About a year ago we at the Blog notified you that CitiMortgage and other mortgage servicing companies may have been charging so-called “Property Inspection Fees” in violation of the law.  Indeed, several class action lawsuits against Citi and other mortgage servicing companies are currently proceeding in federal court in California.

But those lawsuits don’t focus on you – the high-rise condominium owner.  Is your condo above the first floor in a secure building?  Would property inspectors be able to get to your floor without your permission?  If you answered yes and then no, then the so-called property inspection fees on your monthly statement may be improper.

Here’s how it works.  You miss a few payments, go into default, and suddenly you have a monthly mortgage statement littered not only with late fees, but also a variety of new charges for “default services” including property inspections.  Codes like INVO may appear on your paperwork or in your mortgage records.     Continue reading

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You may have heard about the recent $100 million settlement reached between Uber and its drivers:  http://fortune.com/2016/04/21/uber-drivers-settlement/.  In that class action lawsuit Uber’s “driver-partners” claimed that they should be classified as employees, rather than independent contractors.

But there is another class action and it may impact you and other people who use Uber to get around town.  That lawsuit, Spencer Meyer v. Travis Kalanick, was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2015.  The plaintiff, an Uber rider (rather than an Uber driver), just notched a pair of significant victories.

First, on March 31, 2016, United States District Judge Jed Rakoff denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-31/uber-antitrust-lawsuit-over-pricing-green-lighted-by-judge.  The plaintiff alleges that Uber’s smartphone app allows drivers all over the country to agree with Uber and with each other to charge only the prices set by Uber.  Judge Rakoff agreed that these allegations are plausible, stating:  “The advancement of technological means for the orchestration of large-scale price-fixing conspiracies need not leave antitrust law behind.”      Continue reading

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As loyal readers know, we here at The Blog are quite skeptical when it comes to hard-to-believe advertising claims.  The XHose? Too good to be true.  The FlexBelt? Looks like another fibber.  And now ….. the 5 Second Fix.  If you’re like us and watch even a few minutes of late night TV weekly, you’ve probably come across an ad for the 5 Second Fix – a supposed upgrade over traditional superglues that is “welded” with an ultraviolet light shortly after application, allowing you to “fix, fill and seal … in 5 second or less” and achieve a “durable permanent bond” and “everlasting repair.”  But don’t listen to us; hear it from the manufacturer itself:

I mean, you can’t argue with that ad? 5 Second Fix couldn’t actually be a scam or ripoff, right? I mean, look how well it works in that commercial?  But what if 5 Second Fix doesn’t work? Does that mean that 5 Second Fix’s marketing claims are completely bogus?  Unfortunately, our investigation suggests that 5 Second Fix simply doesn’t work as advertised and will not create a permanent bond.  In short, 5 Second Fix likely is a scam product intended to rip off customers for their hard-earned dollars.

As is often the case, Amazon.com tells most of the story.  48& of Amazon’s reviews for 5 Second Fix are ONE STAR.  ONE. STAR.  And although 28% of reviewers gave it 5-stars, other reviewers indicate that rating may be inflated by customers who provide a good review on Amazon in exchange for free, additional tubes of 5 Second Fix.  In other words, 5 Second Fix is using customers unaware they have been ripped off by a product that does not work in order to scam new customers with the exact same defective product!  Just look at some of these reviews: Continue reading

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Rock-hard, 6-pack abs … we all want them, right? If you love in America and watch enough late night television, you’ve probably seen commercials for everything from the “Ab Roller” to “8 Minute Abs” and everything in between. And it’s clear why—Americans want to look good, but due to our busy lifestyles we want to do as little as possible while still maximizing results. Enter the Flex Belt, Slendertone and Contour ab belt systems: wearable electrical-stimulation belts that tie around your stomach and force your abdominal muscles to contract repeatedly for anywhere from a few sections to a few minutes. Both products are manufactured by the same Ireland-based company and make identical promises: “TONE, TIGHTEN, FIRM AND STRENGTHEN YOUR ABS” … “Get strong, toned abs in weeks” . . . “Slendertone toning products include everything you need to tone, firm and strengthen your muscles. All Slendertone products are clinically proven to deliver results.” And according to the Flex Belt website:

The Flex Belt will stimulate all your major stomach muscles at the same time providing you with the perfect abdominal contraction – that means your upper abs, the lower abs and even your obliques are going to get worked from The Flex Belt… and it does all the work for you. You don’t have to worry about your form or come up with the time to get it done. The Flex Belt is clinically demonstrated to deliver firmer, stronger and more toned abdominal muscles while you are: at home, at work, watching TV, exercising, folding laundry, helping your kids with their homework, taking a walk… virtually anytime and anywhere.

In short, use the Flex Belt, Contour or Slendertone ab belts, and you can expect rock hard abs in a matter of weeks without any of the sit ups or crunches we all dread. The Flex Belt ads say it all. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like these models with simply the “push of a button”:

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As we’ve repeatedly covered here on the blog, so called “miracle products” that sound too good to be true—like the X Hose, DeckOver and Grassology—usually promise far more than they actually deliver. Consumers instead tend to wind up with fragile products that break far sooner than expected or simply can’t perform as promised. But miracle products only find their way onto the blog because the target market wants to believe the products work and buys them…… and there is no group that needs and wants miracle products more than new and expecting parents….

Enter the Baby Brezza Formula Pro. The Baby Brezza Formula Pro promises customers hassle-free, warm bottles at any time of day or night. But don’t listen to me, hear it from the makers of the Baby Brezza Formula Pro themselves:

Say goodbye to the time and hassle of manually preparing baby’s bottles. Introducing Formula Pro, the revolutionary new way of preparing your baby’s formula bottles. The Formula Pro uses patented technology to measure, dispense and mix water and powdered formula to the perfect temperature and consistency. With the push of a button, you can prepare a bottle within seconds that has no air bubbles. The water and formula powder are stored right in the machine, so it’s always ready for you when your baby gets hungry. The machine works with all bottle sizes and all formula brands and types. You can also choose the amount of formula you want to make: 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 ounces. The easiest way to prepare baby’s bottles is now right at your fingertips.

To hear Baby Brezza tell it, the Formula Pro will change parents’ lives. “Forget making bottles at midnight, just push a button!”

Unfortunately for new parents everywhere, the Baby Brezza Formula Pro is the newest defective product to find its way onto this blog. The defect seems to lie in the Baby Brezza Formula Pro’s design: the system of tubes that are used to transport and mix water and formula clog during use. Unbeknownst to parents, the clogs may prevent the Baby Brezza Formula Pro from dispensing the right amount of formula, resulting in a watery bottle. And with all that clogging comes mold and mildew, a parent’s worst nightmare. As any parent knows—well, mostly the moms 😉 —watery bottles are no good for baby, and anything that’s not good for baby means more “hassle” for you. From Amazon, to BuyBuy Baby down to Diapers.com, parents everywhere say the Baby Brezza is virtually guaranteed to clog and fail without constant cleaning. Continue reading