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Flood money – it all comes out in the wash

Seaworld Indonesia: photo cottonpolly.blogspot.com

So the rains in Texas are over for now. In Houston, many of my friends are dealing with the after effects of flooding. Though none of my close friends lost their cars, a few had water damage.

One Houston radio program – Car Pro on KPRH- I happened to catch was talking about the downside of this: The recycling of flooded out cars onto the used car market by unscrupulous dealers. It has happened before. It will happen again.

What will appear to be a good deal could cost you tears down the road when the water induced defects kick in. While the cars will initially have ‘salvage’ on the title, they will be bought via auctions but taken to different states where their paperwork will be ‘title washed’.

According to vehicle history report provider Carfax, it’s not uncommon for 50 percent of the cars affected by floods to return to service, some requiring only minor repairs, others a full overhaul.

The most severely damaged vehicles, those declared salvaged by their insurance carriers, can put used car shoppers at risk, as less reputable dealers, and some private sellers, try to sell them without full disclosure, or through outright fraud.

These cars are typically unloaded at auctions to be used for parts, or exported to countries with lower safety standards than the U.S. They can, however, be repaired and issued clearly marked “salvage” titles that must remain with them for the rest of their operational lives.

That is, of course, if the parties involved have gone through the proper channels. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB,) it’s not uncommon for shady operators to go to states with less restrictive regulations governing vehicle registrations to score clean titles for their dirty cars, then return to sell them to unsuspecting customers.  This practice is called “title washing”.

Anyhow I recommend y’all read Car Pro article – Buyer Beware: How To Steer Clear Of Flood-Damaged Cars  and if you are in the market for a used car, be aware of this scam. If your spider senses are telling you a good deal on a low mileage car is too good to be true, it is likely not be. Get that Carfax on the VIN. It may cost a nominal amount, but will save you with peace of mind.

Trajan.

Skiplagged 1 : Utd 0 (Own goal)

Update on Skiplagged's 'godfundme' page

Update on Skiplagged’s ‘godfundme’ page

Roam got an email update recently from Skiplagged regarding their lawsuit where United was suing them.

The update is a bit meek in saying it was a ‘technical’ dismissal but CNN gives more beef. Basically the judge looked at it and said he had no jurisdiction over the case since the defendant neither lives in not does he do business in Chicago.

Ouch. That is not a good start.

By the way, United: you have invoked the wrath of the Streisand effect – Not many people were aware of ‘hidden fares’ until YOU brought it up.

You should fire your legal team and the idjiot manager who decided this was a good idea.


See previous post:  SCAMCHESTER UNITED: UNITED SUES WEBSITE THAT SHOWS “HIDDEN CITY” FARES

Let there be flight… Preferably a G650

Gulfstream G650: Doing God’s work in Comfort

Today’s reading is from from the Book of Genesis.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkeness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be flight: and there was flight.

Wait a minute, I thought it was light not flight.

Not according to Reverend Ceflo Dollar of World Changers Church International (WCCI), who wants to raise $65million to buy a Gulfstream G650 as reported in Christianpost.com which quoted from Dollar’s appeal:

Continue reading..

France : A Land of Striking Beauty. A Land of Striking Workers.

Beware of French Unions : it may impact your travel

Il est avril en France, Le soleil brille / It is April in France and the sun shines brightly.

The flowers are blooming, lovers are walking hand in hand. What a better way to take in Paris, than go up in the Eiffel Tower.

Except you can’t.

Why you ask, because the workers of the Eiffel Tower have gone out on sympathy strike. That’s why.

Oui, mes amis, L’Eiffel workers are showing their fraternity with the Air traffic controls who have shut down French Air Space.

And what are the ATC striking over? The answer is delaying retirement from 57 years to 59 years and restructuring.

Of course this causes chaos for the airlines and passengers but the Trade Unionists don’t care as they face no financial penalties for the problems it causes.

Not only that but this is not the first time France ATC have gone on strike. Just look at this – see a pattern?

This gets old.

Is the European Union doing anything about the enforcement of the Freedom of good and services? No, they are too cowardly.

Anyone planning on going to or through France needs to consider the probability of some strike disrupting your plans or at worst, leaving you stranded. Latest we heard is that they are threatening a 4 day strike over the May bank holiday.

Maybe Bobby Jindahl was right afterall, about Paris being a “No go” Zone but for a different reason.

The Roaman Emperor’s verdict on French Unions: “FEED THEM TO THE LIONS” and since a picture paint a thousand words, this is our message to them:

The Roaman anti-greeting

Coroner declares first case of aerotoxic syndrome

Airplane warning

Airplane warning

An update to a prior story “Flying on fumes : Are aircraft leaks poisoning cabin crew?“.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Dorset Coroner declared “aerotoxic syndrome” as the cause of death for pilot Richard Westgate. From the article:

Toxic fumes in cabin air pose a health risk to frequent fliers and aircrew, a coroner has said in a landmark report.

Stanhope Payne, the senior coroner for Dorset, said people regularly exposed to fumes circulating in planes faced “consequential damage to their health”.

Mr Payne, who is inquiring into the death of Richard Westgate, a British Airways pilot, called on BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take “urgent action to prevent future deaths”. Most airline passengers, who fly only occasionally, will not be affected by the problem, but some frequent travellers who are genetically susceptible to the toxins could fall ill.

Mr Payne’s call for urgent action is likely to be welcomed by campaigners who have raised similar concerns for a number of years.

His report, obtained by the Telegraph, is the first official UK recognition of so-called “aerotoxic syndrome”, a phenomenon long denied by airlines but which is blamed by some for the deaths of at least two pilots and numerous other incidents where pilots have passed out in flight. Co-pilots can normally take over, but campaigners claim the syndrome is a suspected cause of some mid-air disasters.

At issue is the source of where the airplanes sources their compressed air to pressurize the cabin- the engines themselves which if it malfunctions, is a potential source for contamination from oil particles.

Trajan.

Something is rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark : sub-$100 UAL 1st class transatlantic tickets are voided.

So all those who rushed out to book First class ticket on United from Europe to US for less than $100 are finding out that United have cancelled every single one of them.

Not surprisingly the jilted ticket holders are upset and ranting away on the interweb.

The background to the story is that someone identified a glitch on the United site where a currency conversion error (Krona to USD) resulted in tickets being severely underpriced on the Danish UAL site. The tickets would only work if flying from Europe to US not the other way around.

Many people are outraged and taking their fury to the streets twitter with howls of how they are never going to fly United again, how their plans are ruined etc. Others are claiming they will sue or how they are complaining to the DOT.

Let’s see how that will end up especially as the site required you to state your location as Denmark. If so, then the laws of the country of where the ticket was purchased may be the prevalent laws not US.

Either way – US or Denmark or EU law – normal contract laws allows cancellation in this case of a gross mistake such in this currency feed off by a magnitude or so.

However, the sticky point to normal contract law is a DoT law, 49 CFR 41712 § 399.88(a)

§ 399.88 Prohibition on post-purchase price increase.
(a) It is an unfair and deceptive practice within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 41712 for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, or of a tour (i.e., a combination of air transportation and ground or cruise accommodations), or tour component (e.g., a hotel stay) that includes scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation, tour or tour component to a consumer, including but not limited to an increase in the price of the seat, an increase in the price for the carriage of passenger baggage, or an increase in an applicable fuel surcharge, after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of an increase in a government-imposed tax or fee. A purchase is deemed to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.

This law was aimed at misleading or deceptive adverts but some argue it applies here. The question now will be if cancelling the ticket is the same as raising prices.

If you read this DOT pdf, you see this.

8. Does the prohibition on post-purchase price increases in section 399.88(a) apply in the situation where a carrier mistakenly offers an airfare due to a computer problem or human error and a consumer purchases the ticket at that fare before the carrier is able to fix the mistake?

Section 399.88(a) states that it is an unfair and deceptive practice for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to, or from the United States, or of a tour or tour component that includes scheduled air transportation within, to, or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation to a consumer after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of a government-imposed tax or fee and only if the passenger is advised of a possible increase before purchasing a ticket. A purchase occurs when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer. Therefore, if a consumer purchases a fare and that consumer receives confirmation (such as a confirmation email and/or the purchase appears on their credit card statement or online account summary) of their purchase, then the seller of air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a “mistake.” A contract of carriage provision that reserves the right to cancel such ticketed purchases or reserves the right to raise the fare cannot legalize the practice described above. The Enforcement Office would consider any contract of carriage provision that attempts to relieve a carrier of the prohibition against post-purchase price increase to be an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 41712.

Last time something big like this happened was when airlines mis-priced first class tickets originating in Burma due to Kyat floating. Most airlines then were Asian where the eventual ruling seemed to be that an US bound flight had to do more than touch the US but stay there for greater than one day.

AS for the politics of it all, will the DoT force a major US company to commit a financial hit – that likely benefits non US voters – over a clear mistake that would be otherwise be allowed to be cancelled by normal commercial law? I would be surprised to see US Government championing a situation where even the source for this tip- a post on flyertalk.com – informed everyone that it was mistaken: Everyone who booked knew the price was erroneous as you would unlikely discover this by mistake.

While we understand protecting the consumers is important, forcing companies out of business over an honest mistake is just wrong.

What will be interesting now is even if the DoT pursues them, will UAL just accepts the fine as the cheapest option? Afterall, it will be paid to Govt not the consumer and then some negotiated fine.

So for the people who rushed in to buy the tickets, what will you say if United instead of giving refund, gives a credit to apply to a new flight with an appropriate change fee. Especially if the credit is in Danish Krona.

Check mate. If it is too good to be true, it probably is: Caveat Emptor:

Trajan.

It’s snow joke: the historic storm that wasn’t.

NOT the Weather forecast for NYC

So the historic winter storm that was to cover New York City in a few feet of snow, didn’t happen. While it blanketed New England further up North, the storm changed course only dusting NYC instead.

However, only in New York would people moan about missing such a weather event and they cast scorn on the weather forecasters who in turn, issued a public apology.

Really?

Niziol suspects he was not to blame: earlier in the weekend, he was on the Weather Channel predicting between 12 to 18 inches of snow for the city, half that of the NWS’s direst warnings. Meteorologists, including Niziol, generally make their predictions based on the same data and a half-dozen or so internationally shared computer models.

On Monday afternoon, not long before Cuomo announced the subway would close to riders for the first time ever because of a snowstorm, Niziol rolled his prediction back to between 8 and 12 inches: snowy, but not one for the ages.

The NWS, which has the gravitas of a federal agency and whose officials directly brief civic decision-makers, continued to stand firm on a prediction of three feet.

Events would show that Niziol’s revised estimate was close enough. Most of the city got no more than 8 inches, De Blasio said on Tuesday, although some areas of Queens got 10.

As with the NWS and other meteorologists interviewed on Tuesday, Niziol also pointed out that the far end of Long Island, east of New York City, and swathes of Massachusetts and other neighboring states were grappling with an actual blizzard, more or less as predicted.

“There is no pleasure in getting the forecast right over the guy at the next desk,” Niziol said, “because, you know what, next time I’ll get it wrong and that guy will get it right.”

Louis Uccellini, the NWS director, was by turns defensive and remorseful in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

“What we learned from the storm is we all need to improve how we communicate forecast uncertainty,” he said, after citing a list of places besides New York City where the NWS accurately predicted a disruptive amount of snow.

He said he was still “tracing” who wrote the service’s “CRIPPLING” and “POTENTIALLY HISTORIC” advisory, whose language was widely echoed by civic leaders as they declared states of emergencies.

Individual NWS offices are responsible for what they publish, he said. The chief meteorologist at the NWS station in the Long Island town of Upton, which is responsible for New York City, did not respond to a request for comment.

The preferred meteorologists of Cuomo and de Blasio, who both continued to cite the scarier forecasts on Tuesday as they defended their transport shutdowns, could not immediately be determined.

Cuomo’s office said his officials rely on the regular briefing services that the NWS offers to city officials. De Blasio’s office did not respond to questions on the matter.

Let the blames begin.

Sicky Mouse : Disneyland measles update

January 27th, City of Roam and a follow up Galen’s post on the outbreak of measles centered around Disneyland. The updated number of people infected by the Disneyland Measles is at least 87 in 7 states plus Mexico.

Right wing talk radio is going nuts blaming it on the illegals coming into this country un-vaccinated. Left wing talk radio is going nuts blaming it on the anti-government home schoolers not getting vaccinated. At least they’ve found some common ground to be united on: Lack of Vaccinations.

From the LA Times:

The California patients range in age from 7 months to 70 years. The vaccination status is known for 42 of the patients. Of those, 34 were unvaccinated, three received partial vaccination and five were fully vaccinated.

Of the cases in California, about one in four have had to be hospitalized, officials said.

Across California, officials have been scrambling to get ahead of the outbreak, identifying farmers markets, grocery stores, malls and other public locations where contagious people have been.

Health officials are urging people suspected of having the measles to first call their health provider before going to a clinic, enabling caregivers to make special preparations so patients don’t risk infecting others in the waiting room. An urgent-care clinic in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa was forced to shut down for a few hours when five people arrived with a rash. Anyone without proof of vaccination who came in contact with the five at the clinic was put under a mandatory quarantine for 21 days.

For those wishing to read more about the effectiveness of Measles vaccines, the overall mathematics (aka ‘Heard Immunity’) of the Disneyland outbreak, I recommend a recent Wired.com article “Why Did Vaccinated People Get Measles at Disneyland? Blame the Unvaccinated”

Trajan.

 

Would you like Ice with that delay? Flying in the winter

The forecast for Winter Storm Juno Copyright Weather.com

Weather.com’s forecast for Storm Juno Weather.com

January 26: Last time I  looked 5740 flights were cancelled due to the ‘Historic’ winter storm Juno that is hitting the North East today. There are all sorts of advisories about not going out where three feet of snow are expected.

I am not sure if three feet of snow is really ‘historic’ or ‘histrionic’ but as usual with the press, they just love aweather story that fills up the column inches and provide some nice videos to demonstrate how bad winter is. The Daily Mail is in it’s element over this

So why is is historic? According to weather.com

“Historic” is not a precisely defined term, but generally meteorologists reserve it for weather events of exceptional strength or magnitude. A hallmark of such events is their ability to break all-time records. For instance, Winter Storm Nemo broke the all-time 24-hour snowfall record for the entire state of Connecticut when it dumped 36 inches of snow near Ansonia on Feb. 8-9, 2013.

That said, Northeast blizzards aren’t just snowfall amounts: They’re high winds, they’re storm surge, they’re epic traffic jams, they’re days-long power outages. Arguably a storm doesn’t have to break all-time records to have historic impacts if it brings a crippling combination of disruption and destruction.

This had us thinking about which airports are ones rated for worst for flying in winter. One measurement is the number of flights delayed. Note that for all Continental US airports analysed by Hooper, all were over 20%. For the mathematically challenged, at least 1 in 5 flights were delayed in over 20 airports.

So what happens if you are delayed? Time.com has 5 Strategies for Dealing With Your Flight Cancellation.

  1. Check in Early: This avoids you being bumped.
  2. Stay informed in real-time : be ahead of the crowd and not wait for airline to rebook you)
  3. Know your options: Understand the airlines policy with respect to weather cancellations as there are no federal requirements.
  4. Photograph your valuables: Just in case your luggage disappears and you need evidence in a claim. [good advice anyhow]
  5. Turn on your charm: In other words, don’t be an a-hole if things go wrong. You aren’t the only person put out.

Trajan

PS: Juno is a Roman goddess. Daughter of Saturn, Wife of Jupiter and mom to Mars and Vulcan.

top 10 worst US airports during winter

ORD 42% delay
NWR 37% delay
DEN 37% delay
DFW 32% delay
TPA 32% delay
LGA 31% delay
MCO 31% delay
JFK 30% delay
LAS 30% delay
% delay

Orbitzuary : Orbitz is having a sale – itself !

The Booking Dead

Orbitz: The Walking Booking Dead


ORBIT
noun
  • the curved path, usually elliptical, described by a planet, satellite,spaceship, etc., around a celestial body, as the sun.
  • the sphere of power or influence, as of a nation or person: a small nation in the Russian orbit.

verb (used with object)

  • to move or travel around in an orbital or elliptical path: The earth orbits the sun once every 365.25 days.

verb (used without object)

  • to go or travel in an orbit.

 ORBITZ
noun
1.An  online travel agent, small player without the benefit of economies, up for sale by vulture venture capitalists looking for  gullible suckers, uhm “Someone from the outside looking for a a foothold in the industry”.

Bloomberg is reporting that Orbitz.com is up for sale. Maybe we have missed something, but we haven’t found a reason to ever use Orbitz.com. We’ve looked around their site before and didn’t see any differentiator over other travel booking sites.
What is more, Orbitz is the weasel company who joined a law suit with United vs skiplagged.com of which Roads-2-Roam donated to Skiplagged’s legal fund.
As you can imagine, we are not fans of Orbitz.com.
1/20/15 : update on skiplagged.com legal fund: it has now raised $70.5k. Target was $60k