There are big “no trespassing” signs affixed to most of our electronics.
If you own a gaming console, laptop, or computer, it’s likely you’ve seen one of these warnings in the form of a sticker placed over a screw or a seam: “Warranty void if removed.
”In addition, big manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Apple explicitly note or imply in their official agreements that their year-long manufacturer warranties—which entitle you to a replacement or repair if your device is defective—are void if consumers attempt to repair their gadgets or take them to a third party repair professional.
What almost no one knows is that these stickers and clauses are illegal under a federal law passed in 1975 called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
How is this legal? In the mail today we received an official-looking computer-printed card which screamed “important.” It had words like “2ND ATTEMPT,” and “REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION – TIME SENSITIVE MATERIAL ENCLOSED,” and “TO BE OPENED BY ADDRESSEE ONLY. PLEASE RESPOND WITHIN FIVE DAYS.” It was addressed to the prior owner of this home – the guy who moved out almost five years ago. I was considering forwarding it to the prior owner until I saw that it was mailed “presorted std. mail,” meaning bulk rate. Thus it wasn’t as important as it first looked.
I got this car warranty call yesterday from a unknown Caller ID. My efforts to reach a live human being were unsuccessful as I got disconnected when I pressed “0.”
Here’s a recording of the call in case others were interested to hear what these calls sound like. When I get time I’ll add the others I collect.
Just when the phones at MT.Net were no longer ringing with car warranty scams, we got another one this morning. This time it’s from phone number 732-903-0837. Some folks on the 800notes website say it’s a New Jersey company called Motor Vehicle Protection Corporation. That’s who the salesguy said was calling. Could this company be the spawn of Great Atlantic Warranty/North American Warranty Solutions or Automotive Warranty Solutions?
As I’ve long been on the Do Not Call list, it’s time to collect some money from these bastards. Time to see how this works.
Update 11:30 AM: Bah. Looking at the wording on the N.C. Attorney General’s page, the bastards get one free call before I can sic the dogs on them:
If you have received more than one telephone call by or on behalf of the same entity that is in violation of the Do Not Call law, you may go to state court …
How much you wanna bet that the company will then claim a “prior business relationship” based on the first bogus call? This law is toothless!
To recap, the Motor Vehicle Protection Corporation is violating the Do Not Call registry, but they’re doing it below the penalty phase of the law. The company is identifying itself with a live human being, which is a step up from the previous car warranty scams. In essence, the scam continues but with fewer vulnerabilities for state attorneys general to attack. Clever, indeed.
Also for those of you finding this on Google, we received a dead-air call from this number over the last few days. This is likely from the company’s auto-dialer, finding live phone numbers to later feed to its sales queue. Oh, hey! This is where my “more than one” phone call comes into play! I can sue them after all!
I learned today that last week the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against a telemarketing company and a car warranty company allegedly involved in the car warranty robocalls. According to the FTC press release:
The complaints were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on May 14, 2009. The complaint against the robocaller names as defendants a Florida-based company called Voice Touch Inc., and two of its principals, James and Maureen Dunne. It also names an Illinois-based company affiliated with Voice Touch called Network Foundations, LLC and a principal in that company, Damian Kohlfeld. The second complaint names a Florida-based company called Transcontinental Warranty Inc., which sells extended auto warranties, and the company’s president and CEO, Christopher D. Cowart.
That’s all fine and good, but these names do not match up with the documents sent to me by people who were unlucky enough to purchase the warranties. Those documents clearly say “Great Atlantic Warranty.” So, while some enforcement is better than none, I’m afraid there are some bandits still to be rounded up.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper won a temporary restraining order has been obtained against a car warranty telemarketer. Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand ordered New Jersey-based Automotive Protection to stop illegally telemarketing to North Carolinians and to stop taking their money. Below is the press release from the NCDOJ [pdf]:
Telemarketer forced to park auto warranty scam, says AG
Cooper wins order against telemarketer that targeted seniors, took money without permission
Raleigh: A telemarketer pitching car warranties to seniors must stop making illegal calls and taking money from North Carolina consumers, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
Great Atlantic Warranty, the car warranty scammers, has apparently put on a disguise to try to throw search engines off its track. According to this post GAW is now working under the name North American Warranty Solutions. The domain has been active for all of three months. Great Atlantic Warranty’s former website is now a hand-coded page, and (surprise, surprise) it says GAW is out of business!
Great Atlantic Warranty, as a selling agent, has stopped selling new vehicle service contracts. Great Atlantic Warranty has submitted all contract information to the respective warranty plan administrators.
Who do I call if I have a claim?
If you have purchased a contract, please refer to the cover letter you received with your contract, or the actual contract, for the appropriate customer service contact information. If you cannot locate this information, but you have your contract # or Owner ID #, please click on “I have a Contract Number” below.
> I have a contract number.
If there was no reason to be suspicious before, there is now. Can’t say I’m surprised, though.
The good news is that the net is quickly closing around this clown. The gig is up. As Einstein once said, “you can run, but you can’t hide!”
Or was it Thomas Jefferson? I never know.
Got a mystery call to my mobile phone from a number which does not exist: 760-204-8438. I get so pissed off when I pay for Great Atlantic Warranty to spam my mobile phone.
In related news, many unhappy customers are flocking to my website, looking to vent about this untrustworthy company. If you’ve been called by them please weigh in!
Update 22 Oct 2008: Word on the street is that Great Atlantic Warranty is now North American Warranty Solutions.
When will they ever learn?
We got another call tonight from the warranty scam artists, this time using the phone number 702-520-9150 as their fake Caller ID. Once the nice gentleman got on the line I bum-rushed him.
“Can I have the make and model of your vehicle?” asked “Mike.”
“How can you live with yourself?” I interrupted.
“How can you live with yourself, working for such a sleazy company?”
Click! The next thing I heard was hold music, which turned to silence a moment later. I realized I was keeping a trunk busy on the company’s phone system, so I left my phone on hold for another 30 minutes, padding their long distance bill just for fun.
I might get even nastier the next time they call. Or better yet, I’ll try out some digits when I’m alone on the trunk. Maybe I can figure out how to make outgoing calls, or find my way to their voicemail system.
Great. The Great Atlantic Warranty scumbags are now calling my cellphone with their warranty scam recording. Got one at 11:12 this morning. This is even more annoying than the calls to the house because each and every call costs me money. Today’s call came from the bogus caller id of 562-288-7125. The previous call was from 408-587-2143.
I’ve not given these jackasses much attention lately but that has now changed. Its time to give them the full-court press.