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Consumer Affairs

By Jeffrey Reynolds,2014-05-15 20:00
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Consumer Affairs

    Consumer Affairs

    and

    Financial Assistance Program

Consumer Information Guide

    Consumer Myths

    What Can I Afford?

    Pre-Purchase Advice

    Solicitations

    Buying A Car

    Automobile Repairs

    Identity Theft

    Scams & Schemes

This guide gives you the information and

    resources available to become a

    “Savvy Consumer”

     1

    Welcome To The World Of

    The Consumer

    As a consumer in today’s market place your

    DOLLARS are actively sought!

     You are targeted by:

     age

     income

     gender

     married or single

    As a soldier you are a prime target:

    You have a steady income

    And

    It is highly unlikely you will receive

    a pink slip at the end of the month

    Words like Government, Military, Service,

    Armed, Veteran, Guarantee, United States,

    Forces and Soldier, just to name a few, are

    used to attract your attention.

    This doesn’t mean that this product or service

    is endorsed or backed by the government!

    2

    Consumer Myths

MYTH #1 I have a three-day right to cancel

    any purchases or contracts

    - You have three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more

    if you buy an item in your home or location that is not the

    seller’s permanent place of business. It does NOT apply to cars. Cancel all contracts in writing and send it

    Certified Return Receipt within the allotted time.

MYTH #2 Deposits are refundable

    - A deposit is an agreement between you and the business.

    In most cases you do NOT have a right to receive your

    money back. Get all promises in writing.

MYTH #3 Retailers are required to give

    refunds

    - A store is not obligated to accept items for refund,

    exchange, or credit except in cases where the item is

    defective. Find out the store’s refund policy before

    purchasing an item.

MYTH #4 If my car breaks down I can

    return it under the “Lemon Law”. - Texas Lemon Law applies to new cars only. NOT used cars. There are a number of steps, requirements, and

    procedures, which must be documented and followed.

MYTH #5 The bank cannot cash a post-

    dated check before the date on the check. - Most checks are processed through the bank

    electronically. The date on the check is a memo for your

    purposes only. Once you write a check it is a valid

    negotiable instrument and can be cashed immediately.

     3

    Command Financial Specialist/

    Family Advocacy Specialist

    Have you ever wondered what happened to your hard earned cash?

Do you want to save money?

    Is your bank account drained and payday is a week away?

    Are you about to buy a car or other expensive item?

Is there a possibility that you might deploy?

    Do you consider overdraft protection your emergency savings?

Is there a way to get out of debt?

Does Mr. Payday loan know you by your first name?

    Is someone trying to sell you an insurance policy as an investment?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you’re in luck.

    Your Battalion CF/FAS can help you find the answers; assist you in developing a budget; and gain control of your finances. Need their telephone number? Call 288-2862

Commanders & First Sergeants - IAW with III

    Corps & FH Reg 210-8 Each Battalion is required to have a primary and alternate CF/FAS.

    4

Financial Education Classes

    ? Home Buying Class

    ? Banking/Checking

    ? Budget/Debt Management

    ? Credit Booster

    ? Savings & Investing

    ? Understanding Insurance

Mandatory Personal Financial Management Training

    -First Term Soldiers in the ranks of E1-E4

    -First Permanent Duty Station

Contact 288-2862 or 287-8979 for class location, date, and

    time.

    ? Car Buying 101

    ? Consumer Affairs Overview

    ? Identity Theft Seminar

    ? Baby Budget

    ? Pre-Deployment Budget

All of these classes are available to family members as well

    as soldiers. Call and make an appointment for yourself or

    schedule any of these classes for your unit or Family

    Readiness Group.

    Army Emergency Relief 287-1686

Provides financial assistance for soldiers, active or retired,

    their family members and the spouses and children of

    deceased soldiers during period of valid emergencies.

    Approval of an AER loan is based on the need created by an

    emergency beyond the control of the individual, i.e., POV

    repair, emergency travel, funeral expenses,

    eviction/foreclosure, and utility termination notice.

     5

    Consumer Affairs Office 287-CITY

    NADA Quotes Before buying a new or used car or trading in your car call Consumer Affairs to find out the fair market value.

    Pre-Purchase Advice From Automotive Repair to Home Improvement to Renting a Car. Brochures and information are

    available to assist you in making a wise consumer choice BEFORE

    You shop.

    Business Inquiries - Call 287-CITY to find out how many complaints have been filed against a business. Consumer Affairs cannot make

    recommendations. You must ask about a specific Business.

Call The Better Business Bureau at 526-2600 to receive additional

    information about the business.

    Renting off post The Housing Office (287-4212) handles all inquires and complaints. Check with them before you rent.

    Complaint Resolution - Consumers who need assistance in resolving problems can call for an appointment. Walk-ins will be seen if a

    counselor is available.

Remember oral promises are very difficult to prove in a court of

    law. Get every single promise, quote, or warranty in writing.

The key to saving consumers money, time, and grief is education and

    advice. The ability to solve problems and resolve complaints is limited

    by bad consumer decisions and legally enforceable contracts.

    6

    Solicitations on Fort Hood 287-6483

    AR 210-7 governs the rules a salesperson must following on Military

    Installations. The following is an abbreviated version of this

    regulation.

    A solicitor must follow a strict set of rules. The solicitor:

    ? must have a prearranged appointment with the client (cannot

    knock door to door. i.e. barracks, government quarters) and

    the appointment cannot be during the soldiers duty hours

    ? must have a solicitation permit issued by the Fort Hood

    Solicitation Office, ask to see the permit

    ? cannot posses or process allotment forms

    ? cannot make courtesy visits to the chain of command

    ? cannot leave business cards or advertising material for

    display or distribution

    ? cannot address mass, group, or captive audiences

    ? will prepare DA Form 2056 for soldiers in the rank of E1-E3

    and ensure the soldier has been counseled by his commander

    before processing an insurance policy

    ? active duty members cannot solicit to another member who

    is junior in rank or grade, at any time, on or off the military

    installation

    Commander’s information

    ? If appointments are to take place in the barracks, the

    commander must set a specific place for the solicitors to

    meet with the clients.

    ? Commanders will provide information and education

    programs on the conduct of personal commercial affairs.

    Under no circumstances will commanders use the services of

    commercial agents, including loan, finance, insurance, or

    investment companies for this purpose. (The bank or credit

    union located on the military installation may be used for

    this purpose)

    ? Oral or written representations, which suggest or appear that

    the Army sponsors or indorses the company or its agents, or

    the goods or services are prohibited.

    If a solicitor is participating in any prohibited activities, contact the Fort

    Hood Consumer Affairs Office at 287-CITY (2489).

     7

    Looking To Buy A Car?

Before you start - attend the Car Buying 101 class!

? Evaluate your needs verses wants

    ? Next determine how much you can afford. Include Tax Title &

    License (TT&L), accessories, insurance, fuel and maintenance in

    your budget. See your Battalion’s Command Financial Specialist for

    assistance and more information

    ? Do your research. Include reliability reports and safety records.

    Check out the online resources provided

    ? Call Consumer Affairs & the Better Business Bureau to check out

    the dealership’s reliability report

    Determine the fair price of the car you want to buy and your trade in. Call the Consumer Affairs Office for the NADA value or check it out

    online.

Used Cars - you will need to know the make, model, year, mileage, and

    accessories.

    New Cars Take into account the dealers invoice, holdbacks, and

    manufacturer’s rebates during your negotiations.

The Three Steps of Car Buying

    Keep each step separate 1. Set the price 2. Arrange the financing (arrange financing with your bank or credit union before going to the car

    lot) and 3. Negotiate the trade-in.

    Watch out For Dealers Extras - Dealers prep, credit life insurance, window etching, acid-rain protector, etc. These cost extra.

Have the car inspected and go for a test drive - take the used car to a

    certified mechanic to perform a thorough inspection and request a

    CARFAX report from the dealer or order one online.

    Review your warranty before signing There are a number of provisions, requirements, and ways to VOID your warranty. Most

    service contracts do not cover pre-existing conditions and require you to

    have your car inspected by a certified mechanic before signing your

    contract.

    8

Review the contract in detail before signing. Make sure every

    promise is included in the contract. Your Legal Assistance Office

    will be glad to review your contract before you sign.

    AS IS Warranty - As is means just that. The dealer assumes no

    responsibility for repairs regardless of any oral promises. If the

    dealer promises he will fix a part or anything that goes wrong it must

    be spelled out in detail on the buyers guide (the sheet of paper on the

    window of a used car).

    Voluntary Turn-In is the same thing as repossession. The car is

    usually sold at an auction for a lot less than you paid for it. If you

    owe more on your car than it was sold for you are still under

    obligation to pay the difference.

    Lemon Law Covers new cars only. Stop by the Consumer Affairs

    Office and pick up a tri-fold with more information.

    Cooling off period - You do NOT have three days to get out of a car

    deal. Once you sign the contract it is final. Have all promises

    included in your contract.

Web Sites of Interest

    Consumer Affairs - Online Car Buying Class

    www.hoodmwr.com/acs/frb.htm1

    The Better Business Bureau www.centraltx.bbb.org

    Edmund Car Buying info www.edmunds.com/index.html

    NADA guides www.nada.com

    CARFAX www.carfax.com

    Kelly Blue Book www.kbb.com

    Fort Hood Legal

    www.jagcnet.army.mil/JAGCNETInternet/Homepages/AC/IIICo

    rps.nsf/(JAGCNetDocID)/HOME?OpenDocument

    Consumer Reports Online www.consumerreports.org

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    www.nhtsa.dot.gov

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety www.hwysafety.org

    Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov/bcp/menu-auto.htm

     9

    Automobile Repairs

TEXAS HAS NO COMPREHENSIVE STATUTE

    SPECIFICALLY GOVERNING AUTO REPAIRS

    The key thing for you to remember is that it is YOUR responsibility to

    get everything in writing before anyone touches your car.

    Check out the business with the Better Business Bureau, Consumer

    Affairs, friends and family.

    Review your warranty and insurance policy. Follow all the procedures to

    include maintenance and pre-approval. Are rental cars and towing

    included in your policy?

    Diagnosis - state the symptoms not the diagnosis. Get a written estimate for the diagnosis. Sign the estimate & keep a copy. You might consider

    taking a picture or video of the current condition of your vehicle. Have

    the estimate state they need your written permission if they are going

    over the estimate and before they start the repairs. Don’t leave any

    valuables in your automobile.

Estimate to start repairs- get a separate written estimate that includes

    the following: the price for parts and labor; if the parts are new or used

    and if you are requesting your old parts back; the condition to be repaired;

    other fees, date repairs will be finished; if you are authorized a rental car;

    payment arrangements; how long the warranty is for and if it covers both

    parts and labor. Sign the estimate & keep a copy. Have the estimate state

    they need your written permission to go over the estimate.

When you pick up your car ask the service manager to explain what

    was done to your car and look over your car for damages. Get a copy of

    the final bill. Always remain professional and don’t lose your cool or make threats.

    Storage Fees- If you don’t pick up your car right away the repair shop might charge storage fees. After 30 days they will request a mechanics

    lien through the State Department of Transportation and then sell your

    car.

10

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