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do not want to advertise or make statements that aren’t verified. For instance, if the seller says the heating system is new, we want to see something in writing on that unit.” A Lubbock realtor: “A salesperson must ‘know whereof he speaks’ and should have a specific reason for each statement. Is the statement honest and accurate and will it be a step toward securing the listing or closing the sale? Unless a statement meets these qualifications, it shouldn’t be expressed.” A College Station realtor: “Not only are lawsuits avoided, but time and emotions are spared when conditions are spelled out in a written and signed agreement.” A Houston realtor: “When we list a home and the seller tells us, for example, ‘the dishwasher is new,’ we ask, ‘how new?’ An eight-month-old dishwasher may seem new to the homeowner, but in reality it is a used appliance. When agents demonstrate their cognizance. we find that buyers won’t perjure themselves in a future suit by saying, ‘She said it was new.’ ” All of which goes to say that the law is doing what it was intended to do, and that is precisely what has it in such trouble this session with some of the state’s biggest business lobbies: for their taste, the law works too well. What’s being proposed? Business interests can’t find enough good things to say about the general idea of consumer protection, but then they can’t find anything good to say about the current act. “There should be consumer legislation,” an El Paso builder assured an El Paso Times reporter, “but by and large this [act] is a kind of shotgun approach. They’re trying to kill an ant with a shotgun.” An Odessa realtor says, “I don’t oppose any program that seeks to protect the consumer against deceptive trade practices, but such legislation was unnecessary because through our state and national associations we have made the term “realtor” synonymous with integrity, competency and fairness.” So these Honest Joes have come up with a deal for Texas consumerswe’ll be allowed to have a consumer protection act, but it won’t do anything for us. Their package of amendments, SB 357 in the Senate and HB 744 in the House, is one of the crudest, most arrogant power plays since the lobby used to carry satchels of money directly onto the floor during a key vote. What they are offering is nothing less than the gutting of the 1973 act, leaving Texas consumers with less protection than if there were no law at all. It gets a bit technical, but there’s no better way to understand what the lobbyists have in mind than to review some of the major sections that they want to amend: For openers, they propose to scratch “breach of express or implied warranty” from the language of the act, a simple six-word deletion that only eliminates the number one consumer cause of action, not only in Texas but nationwide. About 75 percent of all actions under the current law arise from refusals by auto dealers, homebuilders and other to comply with the terms of their warranties. If this amendment passes, they won’t have totheir “warranties” will be worthless paper to consumers. Norbert Kossak: getting down to business By Vicki Vaughan Austin On February 26, a long line of paid business lobbyists came before a House committee to tell the members that all sorts of evil would befall Texas’ businesses, especially small firms, unless the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act is radically altered. Much to their chagrin, however, Austin electronics repairman Norbert Kossak slipped in among them to give the lie to the image of crippled businesses that they had been carefully conjuring up for the committeeKossak, a small business operator with 15 years’ experience, said he flourished under the current law and saw no reason at all to tamper with it. “It’s only the crook who has to worry about deceptive trade,” Kossak told the lawmakers, and added, “You can send a policeman to stand on my doorstep to watch me and I don’t care, because I want to do what is right.” Kossak, who learned his trade in Germany and Switzerland, says he’s seen strong consumer laws work to everyone’s benefit in other countries, and while he does think “all that attorney language” in the Texas statute ought to be replaced with everyday English, he says it is a law that he canand does live with, triple-damage threat -and all. Kossak is owner, operator and resident raconteur of the German Musik Shop in northeast Austin, where, with the slightest encouragement, the voluble Sudetenland-born technician will hold forth on any subject from furniture design \(he was apprenticed in Germany and worked in Switzerland as an interHe gets a break from English once a week as the Sunday afternoon host Kossak sits surrounded by electronics manuals, vintage radios, and newer German brands, all of which he knows inside out. He took up electronics as a hobby, but since 1961 he has parlayed it into a profitable trade, and he’ll not hesitate to tell you that he’s proud of his work. His customers are proud of it too, and that is the most important thing to him. If anybody ought to be worried about the strong language of Texas’ consumer protection laws, it should be Kossak, for most of his repair work is on products under warranty. Indeed, Kossak’s independent operation is the only warranty station in Central Texas handling repairs for the Robert Bosch Company, an international manufacturer of electronic gear especially noted for its Blaupunkt automobile radios, which are installed in most German and Scandinavian cars. So, when an unhappy Mercedes owner finds his or her 4 MARCH 16, 1979