Amazing story of Larry Duncan the transmission schemer

Larry Duncan offers cheap transmission repairs. Then he gets your vehicle, takes it apart and tells you it will cost two or three times the promised amount. And he wants you to pay him $2,000 or $3,000 that day. In cash. At his bank. Or he will start charging you $40 a day storage.

Can you believe the chutzpah of this guy?

Larry Duncan in his Grand Prairie, Texas garage.

Larry Duncan in his Grand Prairie, Texas garage.

Exterior of Larry Duncan's transmission shop in Grand Prairie, Texas

Exterior of Larry Duncan’s transmission shop in Grand Prairie, Texas

And he’s been doing it for more than a decade without apparent serious trouble to hundreds of vehicle owners.

Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber first wrote about Larry Duncan in 2007.

But in his latest expose in the Dave Lieber Watchdog column in The Dallas Morning News, he shows how Larry Duncan does it — in his own words, with scripts and audio tapes.

Read the entire piece here:

Watchdog: A car repair upselling playbook goes national

Vehicle repair sales scripts show every car has the same problem, no matter the truth. And yeah, the price is now double.

Watch the video and listen to Larry Duncan, in his own words.

Watch The Watchdog share the latest about Larry Duncan on NBC5.

Check out Larry Duncan’s actual selling scripts:

“How to Get Started” By Larry Duncan

“Upsell Presentation Script” by Larry Duncan

Earlier Watchdog Nation reports on Larry Duncan include:

“Transmission repair deals too good to be true”

“Grand Prairie, TX auto repair owner Larry Duncan is not BBB accredited. Hardly!

Here are The Watchdog’s 12 Ways to Avoid this Kind of Experience

Simple stuff, but when your car breaks, you tend to forget.

Clip and save.

• Don’t shop on price alone.

• Try to avoid shopping by phone and Internet. Visit a garage.

• Ask a car dealership for ballpark prices to get an idea.

• Don’t get lured by a free tow.

• Get estimates in writing.

• Don’t pay a parts deposit.

• Find out if a sales person and the shop are local. Ask for their number and call them back.

• Get multiple bids on big jobs.

• Waiting for a vehicle to be disassembled before getting repair estimates is risky.

• Be suspicious of a business that requires a wire transfer or payment by cash. That means customers can’t cancel their payments.

• Before you make a decision, search names and business names for any online complaints.

• Get complete names of people you deal with. If they hesitate, you should, too.

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

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Come to Dave Lieber’s “Tornado Town Hall”

Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber brings his consumer rights movement to tornado-damaged communities in North Texas on Saturday.

The Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist will host a free event, open to the public – “A Tornado Town Hall: How to Hire the Best People to Help You Put Your Life Back Together.”

The event is sponsored by DallasNews.com and The Dallas Morning News. It’s 1:30-3 pm on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at the Plaza Theatre in Garland, 521 W. State St.

Dave-Lieber-Tornado-Town-Hall

The free event will be led by The News’ Watchdog columnist, Dave Lieber. He’ll share the latest strategies anyone can use to find the best contractors, roofers and other service workers.

Families affected by the Dec. 26 tornadoes are invited, as is anyone else in the community interested in learning the latest watchdog survival skills.

Participants will take home a “cheat sheet” filled with ideas and a checklist to research companies and individuals.

“We want to make sure nobody gets hurt twice,” Lieber said. “Let’s spread the word and show how to make smart decisions about people based on a few minutes of research. Plus we’ll have a lot of fun sharing these tips.”

* * *

GO & DO: Free Watchdog session

What: A Tornado Town Hall: How to Hire the Best People to Help You Put Your Life Back Together

Where: Plaza Theatre, 521 W. State St., on the square in downtown Garland

When: 1:30 to 3 p.m. Jan. 16. Doors open at 1.

Admission: Free and open to the public. No ticket needed.

How to get there: A DART rail station is less than one block away. Garland station. Parking available around theater.

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Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Dave Lieber: No comment yet on presidential run

Is Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber about to mount a consumer-rights campaign for the U.S. presidency?

As unlikely as that sounds, the answer, according to a Dallas Morning News posting —
“New presidential candidate? Twitter thinks so” — is potentially yes.

Through a series of tweets from others, the writer puts together an outline for a Lieber candidacy.

One potential slogan according to a leaked bumper sticker: “Watchdog 2016 – Take the CON out of consumer.”

Lieber declined to comment, even to his own Watchdog Nation.

He, supposedly, was holed up in his writer’s den working on something special.

“Stay tuned,” Watchdog desk administrator Marina Trahan Martinez tweeted with the #watchdogforpresident hashtag.

Read the full DallasNews.com post here.

 

DMN blog post about leaks

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

 

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun website: DaveLieber.org

Why AT&T customer service sucks

For 10 years,  Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation has received a steady flow of complaints about AT&T. Hundreds upon hundreds. More than any other company by far.

Each complaint I forward gets fixed. But in a greater sense, it seems nothing gets fixed. Is the culture of Dallas-based AT&T to accept the trove of complaints but never drill down to the root cause?

I don’t know why this continues to happen, but a recent letter I received may help us understand.

An AT&T call center employee has written The Watchdog. The employee gives me permission to share the letter, but I am not naming her because of her job. After the letter, you’ll read what AT&T has to say about it.

why-is-att-customer-service-so-bad

“Dear Watchdog, I’ve worked 17 years for AT&T. I have never, in all my years, imagined it would become the catastrophe it is now.

“As retention reps, we are told to not only retain existing customers after their promotions expire, but to also sell more to these people.

“In most cases, a customer’s bill will jump up $83 a month after the ‘intro’ pricing ends. We as reps are allotted at the beginning of week 5 ‘limited use’ promotions, giving folks the maximum of $40 off.

“By Monday afternoon, these are generally depleted as we take about 40 calls a day.

“This has created a culture of reps promising promos, but not adding them. Or telling the customer they are disconnecting the service, but just not doing it. Reps do not want to disconnect a customer, as this counts against the rep.

“You are right to request a user ID [of the rep]. However, it does not help, as every account is noted with the ID of the rep, and management does nothing to discourage the reps’ behavior (as the manager’s pay also is negatively affected by each disconnect their rep does).

“This goes all the way up to sales center manager, general manager and VP. None of the higher-ups care or do anything to stop it.

“They also turn a blind eye to ‘cramming’ by reps (mostly nonunion employees overseas) and erroneous misquotes.

“It’s very frustrating to be an ethical rep there anymore, as you are constantly under their scrutiny for not meeting numbers. The only way to meet these numbers is to be a liar and a sleaze. Three-quarters of my call center is on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicine just to deal with the company. It shouldn’t be like that.

“The part in your article [a previous Watchdog report] about us not giving our User ID is really a directive that we had from upper management. A customer’s account was compromised by a fraudster with a real ID. The fraudster called in, changed the address on the account, then called in again and ordered iPhones to be shipped to the address he changed it to.

“The problem with this is none of these general managers communicate. Each state is covered by different laws and regulations. You in Texas may call and get a rep in California. In California, I do not have to let you record the call. You also have the option not to be recorded.

“Now that we are national, you have GMs in charge of call centers in California, Missouri, Texas and Georgia. They don’t train you, don’t care about you, don’t care about the customer as long as they are getting commission off your work.

“They know nothing of government regulations, and frankly, do not care.

“I’ve been through so many GMs and vice presidents. However, this is by far the most inept. We should be helping our customers, not forcing products on them they do not want. … I really don’t think anyone in the government cares.”

What AT&T says

I showed the letter to AT&T — and asked the company for its reaction.

“Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if this is an employee of our company,” AT&T’s response begins. “But the picture painted is not the experience we create, promote or endorse.

“We have some of the best call center employees in the industry. We set expectations and limit the offers they can use. But we also provide new agents with 12 weeks of intensive training — with a focus on keeping customers with integrity and with offers based on needs determined during the conversation.

“Once out of training, our agents get regular and organized coaching and updates to their initial training with the option of additional coaching always available.”

The statement ends there.

The Watchdog deems it strange because the answer ignores the basic flaws of AT&T’s culture as described by the call center employee.

Perspective

At my request, Daniel Lyons, a Boston College Law School professor with experience in telecommunications, studied the letter.

Lyons said if a company promises a customer incentives to either sign up for service or renew an existing contract and those incentives are not delivered, in many cases, that’s fraud.

Don’t expect help from government regulators, he says. “The more competitive the marketplace has gotten, the less regulators feel like they need to get involved. If customers don’t like the service they get, they can switch elsewhere.”

What’s happening behind the scenes at AT&T is not unlike what occurs at other companies. But AT&T touches the lives of more Americans than most.

At least we have an idea why the company can’t get it right.

[This story originally appeared in The Dallas Morning News Watchdog column.
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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun website: DaveLieber.org

In a symbolic campaign, our guy runs for – whaa? – president!

Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber is taking a stand on behalf of his readers’ number one pet peeve.

His stand is a symbolic run for the U.S. presidency, which he announced Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 in his Watchdog column in The Dallas Morning News. See it here.

The pet peeve? His readers — citizens of Watchdog Nation, he calls them — are quite surprised when they have phone numbers, email addresses, sometimes even bank account numbers for scammers who try to hurt them. Yet the authorities don’t seem to care.

Dave proposes creating a “junior FBI squad” that would work both here and overseas to take out the thousands of illegal operations that call, mail and email Americans every day with duplicitous schemes.

How can you help? Enjoy the debut campaign video here. And share the link – https://youtu.be/8iKqghi1nzg – with you friends. Let’s have fun.

Read our original story about leaks on Twitter before the official campaign announcement here.

Dave-Lieber-watchdog-for-president-campaign-materials

 

Read Dave Lieber’s Watchdog for President announcement speech here.

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Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

Deja vu: Texas DPS vows to try again to take full fingerprints of innocent Texans

KRLD-AM news radio’s Mitch Carr interviews Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber on the surprise news that Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw vows once again to try in 2017 to get all Texas drivers to give full fingerprints for a driver’s license.

Read Tom Benning’s full story www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/h…gerprinting.ece

Here’s the audio interview:


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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

How to fight terrible companies

On TV: Fighting back the Watchdog Nation way

Thanks to Kristi Nelson and NBC5 for letting me share Watchdog Nation’s ways to fight back every Monday around 11:20 am.

Become a citizen of Watchdog Nation:

Dave-Lieber-Watchdog-Nation

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

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Watchdog Nation exposes ‘the surveillance state of Texas’

The surveillance state of Texas.

That’s what Watchdog Nation founder Dave Lieber calls the current state of affairs in the Lone Star State.

Watchdog Nation is one of the leading voices in favor of privacy rights for Texans. We exposed the Texas Department of Public Safety’s unauthorized collection of full fingerprints of every driver in the state of Texas. We led the fight to stop the practice. And thanks to House Bill 1888, the practice is ending.

We also revealed for the first time the sweetheart, no-bid contract that Gov. Rick Perry’s government (through DPS) secured with a firm staffed by retired FBI agents to set up a system, operated by retired CIA agents, that was supposed to prevent terrorism. TrapWire is a “surveillance detection system” designed to find terrorists in pre-planning stages.

And we showed how DPS claimed 44 arrests were made because of the expensive TrapWire program, but actually there are none. Unfortunately for DPS, this claim was made in a warning email to state lawmakers on the eve of a Watchdog report. DPS warned legislators that The Watchdog’s report on TrapWire could be inaccurate. Turns out it was DPS who made the error.

Now, collected in one place, see the actual stories from Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber and Marina Trahan Martinez in which they show piece by piece the surveillance state of Texas.

Catch up here. Read all of our reports, which won top prizes in 2015 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Houston Press Club and National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

The latest:

Watchdog: Turns out DPS’ claimed arrests didn’t happen

The inaccurate report about its TrapWire super-surveillance fits a pattern of stonewalling and deception at the state law enforcement agency.

Rick-Perry-surveillance-state-of-Texas

Former Gov. Rick Perry (left) and the man he appointed, “Colonel” Steve McCraw, DPS Director

Watchdog: Did your Texas legislator make the hall of fame?

The Watchdog asked for your help to push state lawmakers into voting up or down on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s collection of full fingerprints from all Texas drivers. Find out which legislators stopped this invasion of privacy of innocent people in the 2015 Legislature.

Watchdog Extra: Texas lawmakers end full fingerprinting of driver’s license applicants

Some Texas lawmakers were angry when the Texas Department of Public Safety started taking full fingerprints from applicants for driver’s licenses and state ID cards.

tx dps logo

Watchdog: Does Texas DPS share your driver’s license pic with the FBI?

Internal Texas DPS emails show agreement with feds to send driver’s license pics to the FBI. DPS says don’t believe it.

Watchdog: Rather than answer hard questions, DPS fights the press

The Texas Department of Public Safety alerts state lawmakers to what it expects to be critical news reports hours before the news even comes out.

Watchdog: How Rick Perry set up a surveillance state of Texas

The former governor and Texas DPS worked with former FBI and CIA agents to set up a secretive statewide surveillance detection system.

Watchdog: Is DPS ‘surveillance detection’ just plain spying?

The agency works with companies that employ ex-CIA agents to conduct “surveillance detection,” not spying, officials say.

Watchdog extra: DPS stops collecting full sets of fingerprints from driver’s license applicants

The reason? “Concerns and questions” raised by “a number of legislators,” DPS said in a surprise announcement.

Watchdog: You and me. Let’s push legal fixes in 2015

The Watchdog suggests several new laws to protect Texans in the 2015 Legislature. With your help, we can succeed.

Watchdog: Texas DPS, here are the facts on fingerprinting

The Watchdog answers DPS Director Steve McCraw’s op-ed by challenging him on the back facts.

Watchdog: DPS whistleblower insists officials aren’t being candid

A whistleblower pokes holes in DPS’ arguments.

Watchdog: Lawmakers say they didn’t gives DPS OK to fingerprint

Texas state lawmakers are angry. They say they never approved DPS’ program to capture fingerprints of every Texas driver in the next decade.

Watchdog: Whistleblower blasts DPS for taking fingerprints

A whistleblower who worked for the DPS Fingerprint Bureau steps forward.

Watchdog: Driver’s license centers snatch your fingerprints

The first report that DPS quietly began taking full fingerprints of all driver’s license applicants. No public announcement was ever made until The Watchdog’s revelation.

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org

Guide to Saving on Your Electricity Bill

Note from the author: The story below served us well for many years, but in September 2017 this Guide to Electricity was completely updated. Please visit the updated version here.

 

More than anything, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation wants to save you money. The easiest way to save in Texas, I believe, is to shop smart for electricity.

In the first years after deregulation, I was a confused shopper because power always came from a monopoly. Suddenly, dozens of new electricity companies started competing.

Not understanding the system, I overpaid – but I quickly grew tired of that. I decided to educate myself. Eventually, I figured out a system. My Watchdog Nation Guide to Electricity Savings is built on the idea that companies should be judged two ways – by lowest rate and by company reputation. When the stars align, the right company is obvious. (Note: This doesn’t apply to customers in mandatory electricity co-ops or municipal-owned utilities.)

I’ve shared this with readers of my column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and then again in my current column as The Watchdog of The Dallas Morning News. I’ve also shared paper copies of this strategy with at least 100,000 Texans, audiences I’ve spoken to in recent years.

Shopping for electricity is still a role of dice, but my ideas eliminate a lot of risk. Now that most electricity companies have figured out a variety of surprising and often unfair ways to collect extra fees from you, this reputational shopping, as I call it, is more important than ever.

Thousands of Texans have used this Watchdog Nation report by Dave Lieber as the basis for a switch in electric companies – saving thousands of dollars for consumers.

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More Watchdog Nation News:

Watchdog Nation Partners with Mike Holmes

America meets Watchdog Nation/Listen to Fun Radio Interview

Watchdog Nation Debuts New e-Book and Multi-CD Audio Book

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Here’s The Dallas Morning News Watchdog’s gift to you – The 2015 Guide to Picking the Best Electricity Provider

1. TXU no longer rules. Get over the idea that TXU Energy, most likely your original provider, is the only company that can offer solid, uninterrupted service. And don’t believe the fallacy that TXU customers get serviced first when power goes out. Oncor Electric Delivery is responsible for maintaining the transmission system. Everybody, TXU and its many competitors, uses Oncor to handle repairs in our region.

2. Switching is good. Act under the assumption that you should switch companies every year. The market is constantly changing.

3. You can find better deals and save hundreds of dollars a year with this one decision. Electricity is measured by kWh, or kilowatts-hour. If you pay 8 cents a kWh instead of 12 cents, your monthly electric bill could drop $100 or more.

4. Know your current contract terms. Before you shop, know what you already have. (Surprisingly, most people don’t.) What’s your kWh rate? Check your electric bill. It may be higher than what’s available elsewhere. (In Texas, last week it ranged from 4.9 cents to as high as 13.5 cents.) Also call your provider and ask for the date when your contract expires. Find out whether your rate is fixed or variable. Start planning a possible switch a month before a contract expires.

5. Decide whether you want to play it safe or be a gambler. Do you want to lock in a fixed rate that you can afford for a longer period of time? Or are you willing to take a low price now and understand that a variable or indexed rate could spike depending on market conditions?

6. Conduct a thorough search. Go to this Web site: www.powertochoose.org. (If you don’t have an Internet connection, visit your public library and ask a librarian for help. Or ask a friend or relative to help you.) Enter your zip code and start searching. When you find an offer you like, make sure to go to the company’s own website. Sometimes the company’s price might be cheaper than what’s shown on powertochoose.org.

7. Pick your poison. Deeper in the website you see a search box along the left side. Under “Plan Type” a recommended pick is fixed, but you can also choose a variable or an indexed market rate. (The Watchdog likes fixed since market conditions can grow volatile.) Under “Price,” type in a range from 4 cents to 12 cents. That’s a good spread. Pick a contract length. Fill out the other boxes. Then hit “Refresh Results” on the bottom. Keep trying different combinations to see what the prices are that day. They change often.

8. Study the results. For the selection cited above, several dozen companies recently offered rates in that range. Remember that the lowest rates could come from a company with a poor reputation, but more on that later. Contract lengths varied from one to 36 months. Each service plan comes with links to “Terms of Service,” “Facts Sheet,” “Signup” and “Special Terms.” When you click on these, you learn the nitty-gritty details. Many companies have minimums about the amount of power you must use, or you pay more. Carefully look for language about other fees.

9. Check out your favorite. After you find a company with a rate and contract length you like, learn more about them. One way is to do an Internet search of the company. Place the company’s name in various searches besides these search terms: scam, rip-off and complaints. If the company has a troubled history, find out before you sign up. If only a few results come up from disgruntled customers, don’t worry. But if there are several dozen, continue with a quick search of the company’s Better Business Bureau record. And then, most important, return to powertochoose.org and below the name of the company, you’ll see “Complaint Scorecard” and “Complaint History.” Click on those links and learn more about the company.

10. Read the contract. Otherwise, you’ll get blindsided when hidden fees and charges emerge later. Look for termination fees. Contracts must be printed in letters big enough to read.

Final switch tips. When you make your final selection, don’t call your current electricity provider to cancel. Sign up with the new company only. Try to sign up at least 5 to 7 days before your plan expires so the overlap between the two billing cycles is negligible. Some people switch too late and pay higher prices during the transition. If you have a smart meter, the state rule is you must be switched within 48 hours. But 5-7 days is safer.

Remember, there’s no loss of power when you switch. It happens, and you don’t even know it.

Until the bill comes.

Click on "Complaint History" and "Complaint Scorecard" for important information.

Click on “Complaint History” and “Complaint Scorecard” for important information.

# # #

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites:

Personal: YankeeCowboy.com

Hipster site: DaveLieber.org

New book site: BadDadBook.com

 

Watchdog Nation goes on TV to warn about crooked repairman

You know what would suck? You’re a crooked appliance repairman who advertises on Craigslist.

Then some guy goes on TV, shows your face and warns everyone about you.

That’s what happens here.

The story of Dallas Morning News Watchdog Dave Lieber and convicted thief Michael Stoneham.

Read the full story here in The Dallas Morning News Watchdog column.

Here’s the ad he has used:

michael craiglist ad

 

Michael W. Stoneham

Michael W. Stoneham

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Dave Lieber book that won two national awards for social change.\

Still here? Visit Dave Lieber’s other fun websites: DaveLieber.org