Monday, March 9, 2015

KUDOS! Jack Fitzgerald Fights to Protect Auto Consumers' Rights and Lives

Consumers need more dealers willing to protect their customers!

Thanks for standing up, Mr. Fitzgerald!

Where are the other dealers? Too cowed to stand for their customers?

In another lifetime, the LEMON LADY was at a dealership having a lengthy car service, had an opportunity to listen to customers and telephone calls.

Dealership employees denied problems that had been posted on the internet!

One of the problems that was conspicuous was dashboard lights going on - BRAND NEW VEHICLES!  Dealer's response: Oh NO! First we've heard!

Makes ya wonder!

Jack Fitzgerald Fights to Protect Auto Consumers' Rights and Lives

Automakers Shoot the Messenger for Honest Practices

Jack Fitzgerald testifying in Annapolis, MD with Laura Christian, the mother of a child who died as a result of a safety flaw in a vehicle that was later recalled.
ANNAPOLIS, Md., March 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- An automobile is a milestone purchase in the lives of most consumers. They are not just buying a car; they are investing in the manufacturer's promise of quality and safety. Jack Fitzgerald, CEO and founder of Fitzgerald Auto Malls, strives to provide consumer value from the point of purchase throughout the lifetime of ownership.
For almost 50 years, Fitzgerald has been one of Maryland's leading car dealers and consumer advocates. The formula to his success is his "FitzWay" principle that is based on honesty, respect, and dignity. However, automakers are making it difficult for consumers to receive these rights by forcing car dealers to be accomplices to their hidden truths.
"People have lost their lives on the road because manufacturers have hidden safety problems by delaying recalls, and forcing dealers to withhold critical information," Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald is working with consumer advocate and Maryland resident Laura Christian, whose daughter Amber Marie Rose died in 2005 as a result of a safety flaw in her new Chevy Cobalt.
Amber's accident had many contributing factors, including the defective, later-recalled General Motors (GM) ignition switch that GM failed to address in a timely matter. When Fitzgerald heard this tragic story, he knew it was time to take action. Fitzgerald and Christian are fighting for a package of reforms to speed up recalls and get car buyers better safety information.
"When dealers are free to disclose full information and do repair work without fear of retribution by the carmakers, you'll see the responsible dealers compete to deliver good information and outstanding repair service to their customers," Jack Fitzgerald adds. "Then the market will start to work to make all of us safer on the road." While many of his colleagues may privately agree with him, the threat of retaliation by the manufacturers is too strong to come forward publicly.
Fitzgerald testified in the Maryland Senate on February 24th and March 5th for the package of reforms. The reform bills aim to get critical, timely safety information to car buyers and to make car buying more fair and transparent. In the simplest terms: the bills are about shining light on consumer protection. The House of Delegates will hold hearings on the three bills on March 10th.
The bills will pave a road to better consumer education and safety:
  • Enable dealers to share information by email, and on other forums, about safety and technical service issues. This is a great way to inform consumers about problems, get cars fixed before preventable accidents happen, and make the recall/safety repair process faster and more transparent.
  • Hold manufacturers financially accountable for their dealers' deceptive ads. This will push manufacturers to ensure their dealers' ads tell the truth.

  • Limit abusive audits of the warranty repairs that dealers do for car buyers. This protects dealers against retaliation, and takes steps to safeguard the legal rights of Maryland car dealers, so that they can safeguard the interests of their customers. Dealers can put their customers first.
In his testimony to the Senate, Bill Kress, representing the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said, "The dealers are not capable or qualified to determine if it's [a defect they find in a car] a safety issue."
Jack Fitzgerald refutes this statement. "Dealers employ the factory trained and certified technicians, who furnish the very information that becomes a special policy, technical service bulletin, and perhaps even a recall," explains Fitzgerald. The dealers aim to disclose the defects already identified in bulletins and materials shared with dealers that they are prohibited from disclosing to the consumer.
The association for the auto manufacturers, the Auto Alliance, is taking the only tack they can – to "shoot the messenger." They suggest Fitzgerald is supporting these reforms out of his own self-interest. With support for the bills coming from groups such as CASA de Maryland and the Maryland Attorney General's Office, and with Montgomery County's Office of Consumer Protection endorsing the bills in principle, it is clear this issue is indeed about consumer protection.
Fitzgerald has no plans to stop now. Through these reforms, Fitzgerald and other dealers will be able to share important vehicle pricing and safety information with car buyers. Ultimately, the reforms will ensure consumers' rights and save lives.

SOURCE Fitzgerald Auto Malls