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Returning lease cars, part II

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 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020

So having taken some advice a while back from the hive mind about prepping my lease Outlander for return, I find myself in an odd position.

I did change the tyres over (part worns, £30 a corner with loads of tread, and they were accepted without a word).  I went over the scratches and chips on the bodywork with a paint pen and then used fine grit paper and T-Cut to blend them all in.  If you knew where they were you could still find them, but I did a pretty good job.

The chap who came to collect it (who was hours late and cost me an hour's worth of work, but that's another story) spent absolutely ages going over it.  He kept saying things like 'you've made it really hard for me to find all the marks'.  There was no question that he saw his job as finding things to mark me down for.  At one point he said that, because he couldn't tell how deep the scratches had been, he would have to mark them all as being worst case - down to bare metal.

Eventually he presented his iPad to me, with a bill for £1300.  I flatly refused to accept it, and he seemed very unsurprised by this.  They will be putting it on the forecourt for something like £15000, so their bill is nearly 10% of the car's value.  I've also handed it back with more than 4000 miles less than I'd actually paid for (if that had been in the other direction they'd have been charging me more than £500).  

More than two weeks later and I haven't heard a thing.  I begin to hope that it's been taken back in by the dealer, who's run over the paint with a mechanical buffer, realised that it's now perfectly good to resell, and they have decided not to charge me.  Am I fooling myself?

I can't decide whether to contact the lease company and say that, in the absence of any contact, I now presume the matter is closed, and then remove their direct debit from my account, or just keep quiet and continue to hope.  Any suggestions?

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I can’t offer advice beyond “2 weeks isn’t that long”. Just want to ask, have you been presented with no bill at all? How did the visit from the collector conclude? 

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

He hasn't a leg to stand on if you've repaired the damage to the standard you describe. Sounds well within the fair wear and tear guidelines. 

If your tyres were road legal they shouldn't have needed to be replaced.

When I returned my lease car in 2019 it took about a month for me to get the letter that all was fully settled

 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Cheers, both.

The pickup concluded with him showing me the bill for just over £1300, and asking me to press the 'I agree' button.  I did not, and he hit the 'does not agree' button, and then left.  It was all very amicable and he didn't appear at all surprised by the exchange!  Since then I haven't heard a thing - no email, no bill, nowt. 

Tyres: the fronts were fine, as I replaced them about a year back.  The rears were right on the limit (2mm, which is what the fair wear and tear guidelines give as a minimum) so for the sake of spending £60 to avoid an argument, I got a pair of part-worns.  

The paintwork is an interesting case.  The fair wear and tear guidelines say something like repairs must be perfectly matched, and I have not achieved that - you can find them, if you look closely - but half an hour with a mechanical buffer in a workshop will make them vanish.  I just don't have that kind of kit.  The car manual does explicitly say that any chips and scratches that show primer must be covered, so that's exactly what I did.

OK, so perhaps I'm being hasty.  I expected them to look it over and bill me pretty much straight away.  

Still not sure if I should cancel the DD.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> Still not sure if I should cancel the DD.

I don’t know the terms of your contract and I know nothing about leasing vehicles but if it were me (and I mean actually if it were me, rather than “I advise you to...”), I would cancel it. What’s the worst outcome of cancelling? They try to collect, fail, and you enter into discussion, you having the upper hand as you still have your £1300.

Whereas the worst outcome of not cancelling, is that they take £1300 off you and you enter into discussion, you at a disadvantage as they have the £1300. 

You didn’t agree to any billing for damage and the car was taken away. That’s why I asked how the visit concluded, as in “was he shaking his fist and saying ‘the lads will check it over properly and we’ll screw you for even more’” ?! 

Post edited at 10:24
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 Mr Lopez 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> At one point he said that, because he couldn't tell how deep the scratches had been, he would have to mark them all as being worst case - down to bare metal.

He doesn't have a leg to stand on. The damage is ether repaired or not. If it's not repaired to acceptable standards that is for them to prove. Ideally you have taken photos in case they want to check the repair by sanding it down to the end of the paint to see what's underneth. If they use a paint depth gauge you should be able to be present to be shown the readings.

As a sidenote, i'm surprised that following your inputs in the other thread invoking the climate apocalypse it turns out you have been driving a big SUV with a token electric motor giving about 15 miles range resulting in real world consuption of under 30mpg and emissions of over 200g/km of CO2 once you've driven more than those 15 odd miles since the last charge.  Haha

3
 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

I thought very carefully about the Outlander!  The battery gives 22 miles or so real world (I've had 28 in the summer, and as low as 15 in the winter).  About 75% of my driving is commuting between clients in Oxford, so I did that on battery alone. 

Of course, a Leaf would have done that.  But, every now and again, I need to move four clients or climbing partners to the Peak and back.  Less comfortable.  Also, its driving position was terrible for my back.

Over the four years, the Outlander returned a smidge over 100mpg.  Almost 100% of the time on petrol will have been on motorways.  I literally couldn't think of a car that would have beaten it, given my requirements and what was on the market in 2016.

It has a bad reputation, but a lot of that comes from people who bought it, believing that they would get 160mpg.  It is absolutely not a good call if you do a lot of long drives.  But as a very comfortable short range car with the ability to do the odd long trip, it was great. 

 Mr Lopez 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I was pulling your leg, but if i take the eco-devils advocate position, you should be cycling if you are only commuting short distances in Oxford, use taxis to move clients, and use the train to go climbing in the Peak. At least that's what i'm told i have to do.

> I literally couldn't think of a car that would have beaten it,

A bicycle paired with a fuel efficient diesel for motorway journeys easily beats it.

Post edited at 11:26
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 kaiser 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Wow sounds like you had a real hard case inspection...  I've had all sorts of DIY scratch repairs not even noticed.  Rainy days and a dirty car help, as does silver & white paint.

Last lease I handed back he marked 1 scratched alloy and showed a £65 charge on the report.  Same as you I pressed 'do not agree' and heard nothing more.  He seemed to almost encourage me not to agree as if it's his job to find absolutely every little thing but that the lease co were unlikely to pursue it.

I always cancel the DD before the car is collected as I would always want to dispute/haggle any of their charges, even valid ones.

Good luck

 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> I was pulling your leg,

Fair enough - it's possible some of the responses on that other thread have left me feeling a touch defensive..!

> A bicycle paired with a fuel efficient diesel for motorway journeys easily beats it.

Mmm.  My typical working afternoon would be four hour-long tutes, starting when the first kid gets home from school at about 3:15pm.  I allow 15 mins to get between them, and frequently need to cross the city - I try my best to minimise distance by clever scheduling, but even so. 

I need to arrive on time and looking vaguely presentable.  If I tried to do this on a bike I'd be adding an hour, so I'll be finishing up after 9pm, and between November and February I'm going to be soaked and frozen.  Bike commuting makes perfect sense if you're going from home to one location, preferably one with a shower (of where it doesn't matter if you're bathed in sweat) but it's not really going to work for me, and the last bus home to my village is too early.  Doing it in a PHEV charged from my solar panels was the best way I could find.

Before covid, almost no-one would even consider online tuition.  Now it's 100% online, of course, and it's going to be very interesting to see what happens when we go back to normality.  I suspect about half will stay online (I charge a little less that way) but half will still want me in person.  It'll be interesting.

 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to kaiser:

Thanks - that's really useful.  So in the cases where you have cancelled and then they have chased you, you just came to an agreement on what was fair and then paid by BACS, I guess?

I'm leaning towards cancelling the DD, and dropping my lease company a very short email saying that as I have heard nothing, I consider the matter closed (just so they can't complain that they tried to take a payment and the DD bounced). 

 kaiser 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Jamie, Unfortunately I can't advise on that as I've never been chased.  The only charge they've ever tried to impose was that scratched alloy.  But yes, that was my plan.  I've been leasing since 2002 so about 9 cars I think and that was the most recent occasion so perhaps they're getting tougher...

I personally wouldn't email the leasing company for fear or stirring a hornet's nest.  I don't think they should take a disputed payment via a DD anyway...  The DD is for the regular lease payments IMV.

If they're BVRLA members then I suggest that body's arbitration scheme if they pursue you for £1300 (which sounds absurd).

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I wouldn't email them. They wouldn't email you in advance of taking the DD. Whether you email them or not, makes no difference to whether they try to collect, nor to the level of "complaint" from them when it's blocked. You gain nothing by emailing them and you might even be inviting a claim from them (i.e. if they've accepted the vehicle and aren't chasing any bill from you, they've already moved on - whereas you flag yourself up as a reminder, they check the details, see that there had been a disputed bill, and decide to chase it because it's quiet during December...)

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Did you get a copy of the inspection report?

Did you get a receipt for the return of the vehicle?

 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

I have a paper signature for the collection.  I was told I'd get an emailed condition report, but that hasn't surfaced.

Have just cancelled the DD.  Let's see what happens now. 

 Jenny C 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> Thanks - that's really useful.  So in the cases where you have cancelled and then they have chased you, you just came to an agreement on what was fair and then paid by BACS, I guess?

Only done this once, but I cancelled the ddebit.

They should send out a bill prior to taking payment, so you can then pay (or dispute) this bill as appropriate. Far easier to put pressure on them to resolve a disputed invoice if you owe them money, then when they have taken payment and closed your account.

 neilh 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I would have asked for a print copy written your counter observations on it and photographed everything as a permanent record. Then signed , dated it and asked him to do the same. Fight fire with fire so to speak. 

 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to neilh:

He said I'd get an emailed copy straight away - even typed my email address into his iPad (as I watched).  More fool me for believing him, perhaps, or maybe it will come when they send the bill... but yes, I see your point about contesting them at the time. 

I was already furious at having to cancel a tutorial after he rocked up four hours late and was keen to get shot of him quickly.

 DancingOnRock 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

It will have gone straight to auction. 

They’ve already made their money from you. 
 

I’d check your credit agreement and see how long you have to keep the agreement open after the vehicle is returned. 
 

Personally I would have expected them to have a quote for any repair work, that was needed before it went to auction, within a few days. I wouldn’t have thought they’d want a car lying around that they can’t sell. 

 DancingOnRock 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I think I mentioned in the last thread that the company was scamming us and claiming all the works as insurance claims. 

Our company risk went sky high, we all had to do additional driver training, and I now can’t get insured on my wife’s car. 
 

If it’s a personal lease I’d expect them to contact you immediately the car arrived at their depot.

 Philip 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Next time consider VT a month before. Apparently by using VT you are not subject to the end of contract rules. My A7 went back in a worse state and no consequences.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> The car manual does explicitly say that any chips and scratches that show primer must be covered, so that's exactly what I did.

If they claim the scratches are all to the metal then the above is surely your retort - ask for evidence.

IMO you've definitely done the correct thing in cancelling the DD - make them come to you.

Only possible downside I can think of (and I've no actual idea whether this "thought" is a real possibility) - is it possible they could do something that would affect your credit score? Have a look at the T&Cs in the lease agreement, what does it say about end of lease "repair" costs? Anything about them having to present a bill before taking (or trying to take) payment?

In reply to Michael Hood:

I’ve cancelled a few direct debits in my time without prior agreement, in scenarios like this (always much smaller scale) and AS FAR AS I KNOW it hasn’t affected me. eg one time when Vodafone continued to extract a small amount (something like £1.40) every month for a while after a phone contract had come to its natural end. After many hours of being lied to by customer service about cancelling from their end and refunding me, I realised it was easier just to plug the leak at my end. I was a bit nervous about credit rating but decided the risk was worth it. I never heard from Vodafone again. Some other examples but I forget the details. A reputable lease company chasing a large bill  would presumably put effort into contacting Jamie, before getting him blacklisted 

 Wainers44 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Philip:

> Next time consider VT a month before. Apparently by using VT you are not subject to the end of contract rules. My A7 went back in a worse state and no consequences.

This!!

Did this three times. Ok the car was looked after but each time there were stone chips and scratches etc. Absolutely no hassle and no question of being asked to pay anything. 

 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Wainers44 and Philip:

Does this apply to PCH as well as PHP? I'd not heard of it before this evening.

 Wainers44 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Pretty sure mine was PCP. Once you are past 50% of the payments you can just terminate and hand the car back. If your mileage is high, as mine was, it can be a really good idea as it avoids the penalty charges for excess mileage.  Well it did on the agreements that I had anyway. 

 Jamie Wakeham 22 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

A brief look on google suggests voluntary termination is not applicable to PCH (which mine was).  I'll dig further tomorrow.

There is nothing in any of the paperwork I have signed about keeping the DD open to pay any end-of-lease costs.

Post edited at 23:25
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Only been here once, I had a hire van for a few months whilst mine was off the road, I dented the back door (reversing sensors didn't work) and a machine fell over inside it damaging the ply lining. The guy that collected it went to town. There was no provision on the form to accept some of the damage but not all so I rejected the lot and rang their office the next day. 

I was told don't worry about it, the dent was small enough to come under wear and tear, the ply is expected to be damaged and the rest were all minor things.

I doubt they will put your car on the block, most of the lease outfits have a sales arm to move on anything that comes back in decent condition and it sounds like yours was fine. 

 Philip 23 Nov 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

No, PCP only.


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