Jewish World Review April 13, 2000 / 8 Nissan, 5760
Beware of Internet auctions
DEAR BRUCE: On an Internet auction site I recently purchased a $700 computer component. I sent my check to the vendor, who cashed it, but I have yet to receive the unit.
Now I call and find that the phone number that they gave me has been disconnected and there is no response from their e-mail address, which apparently is still functioning.
What do you suggest I do? -- N.C. (e-mail)
DEAR N.C.: Welcome to a very large fraternity. Many folks like yourself have been enticed to buy things on the Internet, which, all things being equal, is not bad. But then they send off money to someone they don't know, who has no credentials, and when it's too late, they find out that they've been burned.
You can make a complaint to the local authorities where the crook operates, given the fact that it appears he is committing wire fraud, but don't hold your breath while you are waiting to receive the merchandise or your money.
The message here is, only send money to those who you know and trust -- or to a trusty intermediary.
DEAR BRUCE: I bought a car from a neighbor who sold it to me for $4,500. He insisted that he write "as is" on a separate piece of paper. The car looked like it was in great condition and I didn't have a problem with that.
Only two weeks later, the whole transmission literally fell apart. Repair costs have run over $1,500, which is one-third the price of the car. I went back to him and asked him to help, and he pointed out that I had signed a statement taking the car "as is."
I sure didn't expect the transmission to fall apart in a couple of weeks. Doesn't he have some responsibility here? -- N.P., Bangor, Maine.
DEAR N.P.: I'm afraid not. What you entered into is called a casual sale. In a casual sale, the seller is not required to collect sales tax -- which is done ordinarily at the motor vehicle agency -- and no warranties apply unless specifically obtained. You bought the car "as is," which means that anything that happens to it after you buy it is on you.
While a dealer, even in this circumstance, might have some responsibility, a private individual has none.
DEAR BRUCE: For the first 10 years of our married life my wife and I overspent on our credit cards to the tune of $30,000. We tried several different ideas to lower our payments, but because of some stupid moves we ended up with average APRs of 21 percent to 24 percent on all of our cards.
We are over the limit on some, and every month more penalties are added, keeping us over the limit, for which we are penalized the next month. We have attempted to get a second mortgage, but we don't qualify for a low-interest loan because of our low credit rating. We were finally able to get one at 18 percent. This seems to be the only way to go, but it will take 10 years to pay off. Did we screw up? -- T.L. E-mail
DEAR T.L.: Did you ever! Unfortunately, it's going to take you a long, long time to get out from under this debt. The sad answer is, you will have to increase your income -- that means working part-time somewhere or maybe even a second full-time job.
The only way to dig out is to increase your income. At the interest rates that you have mentioned, it will take you forever to get out from
Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).
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