Friday, May 14, 2021

Consumer gal: Defining a certified pre-owned vehicle

by TERRI DICKERSON/ CDA Press Consumer Gal
| November 13, 2020 1:00 AM

As an alternative to purchasing a new vehicle, many customers choose certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. The allure of these programs is saving money over new while also knowing the car received an extensive review of a dealer and an extension of the original vehicle warranty. Sounds good — but is it?

I recently learned of a case where a manufacturer refused to honor the CPO warranty for a consumer even though the warranty had been in effect for several years. The manufacturer’s reason was that the dealer recently scanned the engine and found it had been retuned; however, the consumer was able to prove that the engine was retuned by the previous owner well before this consumer purchased the car.

That means the dealer who put the car through the CPO approval process missed the fact the engine had been retuned so this allowed the manufacturer to refuse to stand behind the warranty, leaving the consumer stuck in the middle. In the end with no resolution from the dealer or the manufacturer, the consumer’s only option was to take legal action or trade the car in and leave the brand.

He left the brand.

This situation exposes a big problem with CPO warranties, or any warranty for that matter. When the warranty issuer denies claims based on changes that have been made to the original condition of the vehicle, this can pose problems for consumers.

Another reader informed me about an experience he had with his vehicle where performance of a recall was denied because the grill on his truck was not original to the vehicle. It didn’t matter that the replacement grill was identical to the one on the vehicle — just from a different trim line.

The manufacturer chose to put the burden of proof on the consumer to prove that a minor change to his vehicle didn’t impact the functionality of the sensor on the vehicle, which was mounted to the grill. The sensor worked fine and the recall work was never performed.

If you do consider a CPO vehicle, read all terms and conditions carefully as each manufacturer’s program is different. Many dealers will offer you a copy of a Carfax report, which helps but isn’t foolproof, as not every repair may have made it to the Carfax report.

Finally, if you do proceed with a CPO purchase consider having the car independently inspected by a mechanic before signing any paperwork.

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Netflix recently announced a price increase for two of its most popular pricing tiers. The standard and premium subscription packages, which are the only options that let you stream in HD and on more than one device at the same time, will jump up $1 per month for the standard plan and $2 a month for a premium subscription.

The basic package pricing will remain $8.99 per month. The standard price is going up from $12.99 to $13.99 and the premium price was $15.99 to $17.99 per month.

The standard service allows you to watch two screens at the same time and allows you to download on two phones or tablets. You get unlimited movies and TV shows, with the ability to watch on your laptop, TV, phone and tablet and is available in HD. The Premium service allows all the services of standard plus ultra HD. It's available on four devices at the same time.

Be on the lookout for a notification from Netflix soon if you haven’t already received one. Remember, Netflix allows you to cancel your subscription with no strings attached at any time. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative you might want to consider Disney, AT&T, NBC and Apple, who have all released subscription streaming services within the last 15 months.

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According to an AARP study, veterans are twice as likely to be targeted by scammers than non-veterans. Targeting veterans can take many forms that include:

  1. COVID-19 scams: Scammers call claiming to be from the VA or Tricare with offers of COVID testing kits in exchange for your personal or financial information;
  2. Cash benefits scheme: Predatory lenders target veterans in need of money by offering cash in exchange for future disability or pension payments;
  3. Charity scams: A caller claims to be raising money for disabled veterans or veterans with cancer or, more recently, COVID-19;
  4. Employment scams: Crooks post bogus job offers to recruit veterans on various online job boards.

So what can you do? First, any cure or legitimate treatment for COVID-19 will likely be well publicized, so if someone is calling to convince you of a cure it's likely that these callers are trying to steal your money or your identity.

Be wary of offers to veterans for cash up front in exchange for future disability or pension payments. Disability claims are processed through the VA and are based on an extensive medical review of the veteran’s medical documentation, and pensions are strictly based on eligibility and qualifications with income being a huge factor.

Veterans or a family member should call their local veterans services officer (VSO) to see if they may be entitled to compensation. The VSO, in most cases, does not take any of your potential disability pay as compensation.

If you are a veteran and unemployed, call the Idaho Department of Labor. They have a veteran services specialist who can assist with finding you a job based on your skills and availability.

Finally, stay on alert for any scams and if something doesn’t sound quite right, check it out and don’t just believe the caller.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.