Upfront Fees??? Forget it!

February 06, 2009
By: Robert Silverman

I know we have covered this before, but I need to cover it again. Regardless of whether Kimmel & Silverman handles your claim or not, you should NEVER pay any upfront fees or retainers to a consumer attorney in any case dealing with Lemon Laws, Federal Warranty Laws, or dealer fraud.

The laws are written in a way so that attorneys can recover their fees and costs upon prevailing. If any attorney is asking you for an upfront fee, that illustrates that either a) they are not fully educated on the statutes needed to win your case or b) they are not entirely confident you are going to prevail. Neither option sounds very comforting to us.

Just today, we received an inquiry from a consumer who appears to be stuck in a spot delivery situation. She is not in a position yet where we can get fully involved as counsel. However, before us, she contacted numerous attorneys. One of them decided to take it upon himself to write a letter to the dealer and told her “if his letter results in something, she owes him $1,000.” What???? She told him she couldn’t afford the $1,000 (who can in this society and why should you have to throw good money after bad?) and he said “oh, you can pay me in monthly installments.”  $1,000 for a letter????? Are you out of your mind? Oh, by the way, she never was asked to sign any sort of document confirming she owed them $1,000 and she didn’t see the letter until it was sent to the dealer. Now, she’s stuck. Even if she does get her way, and gets to keep her car at the finance rate outlined in her sales contract, she is now out another $1,000. The laws are not written that way!!!! As consumer advocates for 18 years now, this really upsets us.

Please, before you agree to pay anyone anything, contact us and explain your situation. We may not be able to do something immediately, but we will provide assistance to get the matter resolved as soon as possible. Ok, off the soapbox and back to work…

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