Splatinum Tony

Letters published Ocotber 26, 2005

The check is in the drawer: You have barely scratched the surface ["Platinum Tony," October 12]. I was one of Anthony Hodel's claims managers. He didn't know there were checks in the drawer? Bull! He regularly told us not to send out checks. That way he could say the check had been cut, but when it didn't show up to the client or repair facility, he could claim it was lost in the mail. This guy is a real piece of work. This is why I chose to leave the company after less than a year.

I started out in the accounting department, trying to clean up the dealer accounts receivable. I worked with the former controller, who did her damnedest to keep Hodel's feet planted firmly on the ground. It was a losing battle. Once she found that he was creating his own financial statements, not the actual ones, to give to people like the banks and Ford/Roadloans, she left too. She wasn't ready to lose her professional reputation over this moron.

He was adamant about the checks and what could and could not be mailed. You did not dare send out a check without his express approval. You didn't do anything without him or his wife, Kimberly, knowing about it. He kept the checks in his office until he wanted them mailed out.

Kim Seal

Why would you buy a car from this man? I love how you put this guy on blast. Single mothers like me don't have money to waste, and the law should make these crooks take more responsibility.

It is genius how you make him look like the happening thing in town; it's what drew me to read what I thought was going to be a success story about "Platinum Tony." Hopefully, enough people will read it, and it will decrease his sales at his car dealership. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

Thanks for being a consumer's eye. I never would have known about this kind of scam. I am forwarding this story to all my friends.

Shirelle Copeland

Throw him in the bin: As a $3,500 victim (not including the price of the warranty) of this sleazeball, I sure wish they could find a way to throw his sorry ass in prison. I just don't understand how people like this can move money around and it can remain legal.

We were listed as one of his creditors, and yesterday we got the letter informing us we were officially hosed -- Chapter 7 all the way, baby. Bend over and smile.

Thanks for your article. I only wish I had seen it a few years ago, before I bought the policy and my '98 Ford Expedition!

Casey Smith
St. Louis, Missouri

How it works in the real world: I really enjoyed your article on Platinum Warranty. It is truly a shame that so many people have been victimized by the company. As a vice president for a service-contract company, I wish all states would adopt the industry regulations of Florida. Some examples are:

1. All companies offering vehicle-service contracts are regulated by the state's Department of Insurance.

2. Consumers purchasing the same vehicle-service contract (e.g., five years/75,000 miles) on the same vehicle (e.g., 2004 Malibu) from the same service-contract company must pay the same retail price (this eliminates negotiating and discriminatory pricing).

3). Every service-contract company must do one of the following: a) Have the risk fully insured by a company regulated by the state, or b) put 50 percent of the retail price paid by the consumer in reserve to pay claims.

4). The Florida Department of Insurance audits all service-contract companies through quarterly financial reports. If you step out of line with your finances, Florida shuts you down immediately.

5). The DOI also holds a portion of the claim reserves to help ensure stability and fair play.

Finally, the auto dealers that marketed Platinum Warranty must share a portion of the blame. While I'm sure many are reputable, some assuredly wanted the lowest-cost/highest-margin product. A quick look at the prices should have alerted every dealer that claim reserves would be inadequate.

Robert J. Hehr
Lake Worth, Florida

[Editor's note: Unfortunately, we live in the Third World of Ohio, where the legislature has banned all forms of consumer protection. But thanks for letting us know how they do things in America, Robert.]

O Brother
A clueless senator . . . Go figure:
Thanks so much for a riveting review of George Clooney's take on Edward R. Murrow and Tail Gunner Joe in Good Night, and Good Luck ["Exhuming McCarthy," October 19].

Perhaps because I spent over 30 years in the ACLU, I have long been fascinated by the McCarthy era and its primary players, including these two protagonists and attorney Joseph Welch, who played a pivotal role in ending this massive witch hunt. I watched the "hearings" in which Army General Zwicker was a subject of McCarthy's baseless charges. I remember watching Welch successfully skewer McCarthy and show him up for what he was -- a total fraud.

An anecdote in Richard Rovere's classic tome on McCarthy captures the man's basic lack of awareness. McCarthy spent a day persistently attacking an "uncooperative witness," who was an acquaintance of McCarthy's. Having eviscerated him on camera and turned his life and reputation into a shambles, McCarthy approached him right after the hearing to ask the witness whether he and his wife could get together soon for dinner with Joe and Jean McCarthy!

Howard Besser