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Columbus, Ohio
Mercenary Genius
Interests: muckracking, mischief and mayhem
Recent Activity
J.R. McMillan is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 15, 2010
Just how desperate is GM to cover up the VTi safety issues? They called me to buy back my car. In fact, the dealer called me, then GM legal called me — twice. I thought it was just because I was so "persistent", but it's not just me. Turns out they're actually willing to buy back 150,000 VTi transmission cars to get them off the road. As part of a new "Special Reimbursement Policy", GM is willing to pay for 50% of the repairs on VTi transmissions, or will buy back your car for $5,000 toward the purchase of a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
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So how do you make it hurt where it counts — the bottom-line? I may not have the $7,500 to repair my transmission, especially considering GM already agreed to pay for the costs this past April. However, that doesn't mean I can't make them pay in other ways. Having a little grassroots activism in my repertoire of skills, I pulled together these quarter page flyers and started putting them on the windshields of newer GM cars warning the owners that the new GM is evaluating the warranties issued by the old GM on a case by case basis. You can... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
Well, a letter to your state's Attorney General may get you a call back from GM, but not a transmission. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray's office forwarded my letter to him on to GM which prompted to vague, but somewhat optimistic message linked below. Sadly, after a day of frustrating phone tag, I eventually tracked down Kay Reeves with GM. She reiterated without apology or exception the class action settlement was a matter agreed to by "General Motors Corporation" but is "not handled by General Motors Company". Asked directly if the bankruptcy was the determining factor in GM's claim that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
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Let's tell Fritz Henderson not to throw VTi owners under the bus — or more accurately, our own defunct Saturns. As the owner of two Saturns and a GM driver for more than a decade, maybe Fritz needs to seriously consider the consequences of having some of the company's most loyal customers telling everyone they know to think twice before buying any GM vehicle. If the "new" GM is allowed to ignore the warranties of VTi owners, what happens the next time a pesky or dangerous defect turns up? If GM can selectively honor some warranties, but not others by... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
So I called Saturn again just to get everything I'd been told before on record. Courteous as always, I was told that they had done the repairs on the Vti transmissions, suspiciously up until the same time Penske deal fell through. GM has since instructed Saturn dealers to ignore the class action settlement agreement. The tech confirmed how common and dangerous the failure is and advised against driving the car. (Think the NHTSA needs to hear this call as well.) When asked if the dealer had a copy of the settlement agreement, he said yes and offered to mail me... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
For those who missed it, GM just took a pay cut. More precisely, Kenneth Feinberg of the Treasury was offended to find out how much these clods were planning to pay themselves — essentially out of our tax dollars. From yesterday's Detroit Free Press: "At General Motors, cash compensation for the five most senior executives and the 20 next highest-paid employees will drop $3.9 million – or 31% – on an annualized basis, compared to 2008. In terms of total compensation, the cut will be a total of $5.6 million or slightly less than 25%." Top execs at Chrysler, GM... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
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This guy obviously doesn't own a Saturn. We need to tell him what it's like to buy a car from a company that brags about everything they are doing for their new customers while quietly giving their existing customers the runaround. Is this what $50 billion in taxpayer funds buys today — empty promises? How do you take a government handout while using the other hand to give some of your most loyal customers the finger? Whitacre, New GM Chairman: "I Don't Know Anything About Cars" Ed Whitacre may not know cars, an admission he himself made upon taking the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
Just got a call from Fernando Molina with GM Global Security about calling Heather Griggs at home. Apparently she freaked out and called GM's "Department of Tools with Guns". I explained that my Saturn was probably in no condition to make it from Columbus, Ohio to Austin, Texas, as well as the verbatim conversation we had before she hung up. (If I wanted to conceal my identity, I'd have just faked the Caller ID data through an overseas VoIP proxy outside the jurisdiction of the Patriot Act?) Molina said he was responsible for the safety and security of GM employees... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
You'd think GM could fix all of these transmissions considering how many corporate "tools" they have in their employ. I received a call late yesterday from Ebony Sterns with GM Customer Service stating that GM was reviewing my case and would call me today between noon and 2pm. Well, I just got off the phone with the most rude, stubborn and unhelpful person every to represent a company with which I've done business. This time Heather Griggs, GM Customer Service, called to confirm that GM will not repair the transmission on my car under the terms of the class action... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
I've had cars fail on me before, but never the company that made them. This past Saturday while driving home from a late job appointment, the transmission in my 2004 Saturn Ion dropped out of gear, leading to an immediate series of events that nearly killed me and an ongoing saga that has me wondering how GM has managed to get away with continuing to violate a court order. First, I'm not an attorney, but these folks are, and they are the definitive resource for the legal minutia surrounding the class action settlement agreement and the case against the "new"... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
Lately, I've been asking myself the same question. My wife and I were preparing to start a family and needed a newer, more reliable car. We already owned a 1995 Saturn SL1 which had served us well, but was getting up there in miles — and like any car its age, the cost for typical repairs and maintenance made a new car a better option with a little one on the way. The SL1 had retained much of its value and still looked great, due in no small part to the polycarbonate, rust-free body panels. It hugged the road, got... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
So I got another call from GM and they now deny the 2004 Ion is even included in the VTi class action settlement. Mick Garrett, an agent in the GM Business Resource Center, left me a message in response to my complaint to the Better Business Bureau. Apparently GM doesn't even know what model years are affected by the class action. The previously posted internal service bulletins and the first page of the notice of settlement clearly state the 2003 and 2004 Ion and 2002-2005 Vues with continuously variable transmissions are covered for repair or replacement. This guy twice stated... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
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Big business is by default something of popularity contest — one that GM is losing. Not much sympathy for a company that spent decades building their business around cars that were too big and too expensive for average Americans to afford. Just because the military is willing to spend a ridiculous chunk of change on a Hummer that practically measures fuel economy in yards per gallon doesn't mean that's what working class folks want or are willing to sell a kidney for to swing the downpayment. Sure, military and aerospace technology should eventually filter down to the public sector, but... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
Welcome to Saturn Settlement — the one-stop shop on how to fight back against GM. My guess is that you're all in the same boat I am, stuck with a car that GM agreed in court to repair, but is now refusing to do so. For those unfamiliar, with the Saturn VTi transmission problems, let me bring you up to speed, no pun intended. On April 16, 2009, after years of denial and deliberation, GM settled a class action lawsuit brought by owners of Saturn Ion and Vue models with continuously variable transmissions due to their widespread history of failure.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
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Now that's what I call a house. I wonder what someone would have to do for a living to afford such a place? Apparently, all you have to do is take the world's largest automobile company, run it into paralyzing debt, then ask the US taxpayers to bail you out before walking away with a big chunk of the money. Immediately after the bankruptcy sale, former GM CEO Rick Wagoner received an obscene severance package for the company he helped run into the ground: an $8.15 million cash payment, a life insurance policy with a cash value of $2.57 million,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
The following letter was sent out in various forms to the offices of Richard Cordray, Attorney General of Ohio (my home state), Jerry Brown, Attorney General of California (the state of the class action settlement) and Beau Biden, the Attorney General of Delaware (the state of incorporation of the "new" GM). I also dispatched letters to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ralph Nader, longtime auto safety advocate and former presidential candidate and Matt Gonzalez, San Francisco attorney, prominent San Francisco public servant, attorney, activist and vice presidential candidate. ******* I was once a loyal General Motors customer — that is until... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2009 at Saturn Settlement
So how do you make a legal stink when GM never tells you your car is dangerous and then tries to walk away from the legal settlement covering the repair? You start with these guys: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), an office within the NHTSA, conducts defect investigations and administers safety recalls. If a safety-related defect exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment, the manufacturer must provide a remedy at no cost to the owner. ODI does not have to receive a specific number of complaints before they look... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2009 at Saturn Settlement