Forum Home» Motoring

Lease Car Return Problem

New Post Advanced Search

Lease Car Return Problem

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Motoring
43 replies 141.4K views
gw73gw73 Forumite
1 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Motoring

I have recently returned a Mercedes A class to Lombard after completion of the 2 year lease

The car was collected and an inspection completed with only a minor scuff to one of the alloy wheels noted on the sheet (collector advised that this would probably be classed as fair wear and tear). Otherwise the car was classed as in good condition.

I have now received a letter stating that at a further inspection it has been noted that a repair to a small dent on the rear wing / bumper has not been completed to the required standard.

I had a minor collision reversing into a railing early one morning! I had this repaired albeit not by a Mercedes approved franchise. I could not see any issue with the repair/respray whatsoever. Technically I should have used a Mercedes approved dealership.

What is my best course of action here?

I should also highlight that in addition to the car being in generally good condition I had only completed 15k of a permitted 20k miles under the contract - which should add to the car's value?

Would it help to write to the company Chief Executive, or at least assert that I am considering this?

Do I have any recourse resulting from the collector not notising this?

Does anyone have any thoughts about how much Lombard would be likely to charge me for this?

As mentioned this was a small dint resulting from a very low speed impact with a railing.

Many thanks


  • Well they have noticed it so it probably wasn't that well done.

    How much are they wanting to charge? +/-£200? If so you will probably have to just pay up.

    As for mileage its irrelevant.
  • You can always try and get your money back, but frankly, you have no recourse with the lease company. In your contract, and in the BVRLA standard (industry guidelines) is says that "repairs must be completed to an acceptable standard" - or words to that effect.

    It's a problem that many people are finding they are lumbered with. But to be honest, the problem is your's, not the lease company's. After your car it taken away, it is given a full inspection by a trained inspector... he will be looking for damage which is beyond 'fair wear & tear', but also evidence of repair and checking that it has been done properly. Frankly, he has no way to tell if it was done by an approved crash repair centre, or by your wife's brother... all he cares about is if the work was done properly.

    In my experience (inspecting cars), poor repairs are just as likely to be done by an approved crash center as not -- possibly because centres get approved because they are prepared to work for £20 per hour, not on the quality of their work!
    Either way, your argument is with the person or company who carried out the repair.

    When you have work done, ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure it is done properly. The fact that you used an approved centre is irrelevent... the car is your responsibility.

    Idealy, you would have got this sorted out before returning the car. This is what I normally advise people to do. Even a year later, you can go back to the repair centre and tell them you are not satisfied and get them to re-do the work. Unfortunately, it may be to late to do anything about it now. The crash centre has an obligation to put the work right, but they are not obliged to pay for any resulting recharges.

    Furthermore, it's likely that the other damage, such as the wheels, may have come under the threshold meaning you wouldn't have been charged for them. But this additional recharge takes you over the threshold meaning you'll pay for the lot.

    Lease company make re-charges running into tens of millions of pounds every year ( even so, one company told me they were losing £2 million a year on damage they had missed!) But they don't emphasise this part of the story when they want you to sign the contract. Generally, the lease companies are fair... but if you want to avoid paying hundreds in recharges, you need to take great care of your car, and take the business of repair very seriously.
  • Olly12Olly12 Forumite
    1 posts
    I received a letter from Flexxi-lease when I returned a Citroen Grand Picasso, saying the vehicle was dirty plus damage to one wheel and bodywork damage. They were asking for £235 I disputed this as luckily I took loads of photos on collection (the guy collecting the car spent over an hour checking it)! I responded saying the 'alleged' damage was within the standard as detailed in the BVRLA's Fair Wear & Tear Guide. I made them an offer of £75 plus vat but this was rejected and my cheque returned. They have now put a Credit collection company onto me so I took my evidence to my solicitor and two body shop repairers. Both repairers agreeed the damage was trivial and within limits and my Solictor has recommended I let them take me to court over the debt. These Lease companies make £120,000,000 pa in penalty recharges although some of this comes from excess mileage some are charging an average of £600 per car for wear & tear. My photos clearly show the car being clean and not dirty as described by the lease company. I will update the website with the results of the court action.
  • sillygoosesillygoose Forumite
    4.8K posts
    Whilst not related directly, I thank the posters for re-inforcing my reluctance to enter into a lease for my next company car. For work I park daily in many public car parks and with so many people coming and going alongside a degree of damage is inevitable. I don't want all this hassle.

    I think I will go with plan B and buy/run my own car with the allowance for sure.
    European for 3 weeks in August, the rest of the year only British and proud.
  • EnfieldianEnfieldian Forumite
    2.9K posts
    sillygoose wrote: »
    Whilst not related directly, I thank the posters for re-inforcing my reluctance to enter into a lease for my next company car. For work I park daily in many public car parks and with so many people coming and going alongside a degree of damage is inevitable. I don't want all this hassle.

    I think I will go with plan B and buy/run my own car with the allowance for sure.

    Same here.

    I have had company or leased cars for the last 15 years.

    It all seems wonderful to begin with. A nice new fully maintained car with all servicing costs paid.

    The problem is that you don't often get a choice in colour, trim or extras (purely cosmetic, I know)

    With some companies a car can be used as a pool car but you will be charged for the scratches and dings on it's return....

    Parking tickets become £100 a time, legal or otherwise, due to the "admin fee"

    Best of all, you are sold on the idea of a 2,000 mile a month allowance and keep the car for 3 years. On its's return they expect it in showroom condition after 70,000 miles.

    (Or they go bust halfway through the deal!)

    I am buying my first car this week at the age of 37.

    My choice of model, colour, trim and extras.

    I will drive it as much or as little as I like and if it gets damaged I will decide if a repair is necessary.
  • I'll be honest, I'm an independent, BVRLA trained lease inspector. My company works exclusively for fleets and retail public -- NOT for lease companies. So basically my aim is to help people avoid these refurbishment recharges.

    Please don't be put off by what you read here.

    Yes, the standard you have to return them in is high (and precise), but they don't have to be in showroom new condition... they want them back in showroom used condition so they can sell them on quickly for reasonable money.

    You have to realize that the lease company is making money because it is buying a lot of cars and getting them at a discount. It then leases them to you for the period in which they devalue the most (effectively getting you to pay for the cost of devaluation over the first 2-3 years). And then it sells them at standard market second-hand prices.
    So what they are doing is buying cheap, selling at market price and winning the difference. Your part of the story is actually as caretaker for a few years, they are not making much money out of you.

    When the car goes to auction, if it is in a condition where a dealer can buy it and put it straight into a showroom, it will get snapped up at a good price, first time. If it has dents and dings, a dealer won't even want it, let alone pay good money. So it won't get sold and hangs about at the auction for weeks, all the time devaluing.

    But here's the thing of it! It's exactly the same story if you buy your own car outright! If it gets damaged -- true, you can decided if a repair is necessary... but you pay for it one way or another. People don't want to buy cars with damage, so they will pay less for it. So you lose money when it comes time to sell.

    Manheim car auctions say that damage typically devalues a car by three times the cost of the repair. The lease companies know this, thats why they make refurbishment/devaluation recharges, but it still applies if it's your car.

    It may be true that choice is limited if you are getting cars through your fleet manager at work, but with a personal lease, you can have pretty much any car you want with any level of trim. We have a leased Ferrari to do an inspection on next week!

    If you would like to send me the photos, I'd be happy to look at them for you and advise if we think they are acceptable or not, or borderline. BVRLA have a mediation service which may save you from going to court. So it would be worth finding out if you have an argument.
  • sillygoosesillygoose Forumite
    4.8K posts
    That is the problem with lease, you don't get good value because its always a new car with the worst possible (initial) deprecation cost to be covered, by you even though the lease companies get cars at big discount.

    I have been doing some investigating and have turned up a lot of tales of woe at the moment. A lot of lease companies that priced their leases 2 or 3 years ago, now as the leases are ending the cars are worth a lot less than they predicted and guaranteed. In desperation to avoid a loss many are excessively scrutinising cars and applying outrageous charges on the owner as an alternative form of 'income' I have found many people in this fight.

    I would also like to choose what repairs are necessary and get them done at the best price and not some profiteering scam price from the lease company. I don't believe a car is expected to be as new at 80K by buyers just tidy enough.

    A few other issues to consider, I like decent grip tyres on my cars not whatever is cheapest and I have them changed at 3mm not 1.8mm. I like new windscreen wiper blades when the old ones don't work well not what/when the lease company say. Finally if the car no longer suits my needs I want to be able to change it when I want. Not be stuck in some deal for another 3 years. With interest rates so low and likely to stay low for some time I intend to buy using my flexible mortgage as a loan. A year old low mileage vehicle around £13K (nearer £19K when new), run it on my allowance comfortably and sell it two years on when the manufacturers warranty expires. Better car, total freedom and on my calculations cost free.
    European for 3 weeks in August, the rest of the year only British and proud.
  • I think it depends on what deal you get.
    Obviously, the higher mileage you do, the more expensive it will be, and generally leasing is not good for high mileage drivers.
    Also, if certain lease deals do not allow you to have the tyres of your choice or change your wiper blades when you wish, then it's news to me...

    It's like anything, there are pros and cons, and to get the best out of it you need to understand the subject and do your research. And it's here that I would criticize the lease companies and brokers... when you are 'buying' a lease car, they very much skim quickly over the subject of recharges and I don't think they do enough to educate people that they really need to keep on top of the condition of their cars and return them in a state which is within the terms of the contract. The use of the expression "Fair Wear & Tear" is slightly misleading as its subjective as to what is 'fair' over a 1,2,3 or 5 year lease. But actually the standard we inspectors work to is very precise, very little we see is border-line.
    (Some lease inspectors that work for the lease companies use hand-held computers and work out the recharges right there on the spot. Otherwise the report is sent up to another department where they decide what to charge and they may have some flexibility and use leeway with their bigger customers).
    In desperation to avoid a loss many are excessively scrutinising cars and applying outrageous charges on the owner as an alternative form of 'income' I have found many people in this fight.
    They have been making a loss over damage for years!
    As I have said, we don't inspect cars for lease companies, we do it for private individuals and fleet managers so they know what they are likely to be recharged for and have it fixed themselves before they return the car. So we have to keep a close eye on what lease companies are charging for and how much so that we can advise our customers accordingly.
    I can say that I have never come across any evidence that your statement is true, even though this rumour has been around for a very long time.

    Regarding "excessively scrutinising cars", the cars should have always been scrutinised at about the same standard. The standard has changed very little over the years. What has happened is that the lease companies have got better at inspecting the cars -- this really happened a 2-3 years ago due to the fact that people were returning cars in very poor condition which lead to the lease companies losing money on them. The state of the car market at the time was a factor, but the current state of the economy definitely has nothing to do with it.
    I understand that in some instances, they rolled over the cost of damage and devaluation into the next lease deal so that some people didn't really get a grasp of the fact that returning cars in poor condition was costing them. And some companies were paying more but being let-off more.
    The other change was that any damage was being passed back to fleet managers who had to foot the bill, therefore drivers never knew about it - they just got nagged by fleet managers to look after cars better. It's more common now for fleet managers to pass the costs back to their drivers. In which case fleet managers should be doing more to inform divers of their responsibilities before handing over keys.

    As to "outrageous charges"... it's best if I explain this with examples.

    Lets say you have a 50mm scratch on one door, and three dents on the opposite door.
    All of these fail and would incur a recharge for the panel price of that vehicle.
    If an inspector looks at the scratch, he cannot tell if that scratch could be polished out or not, all he knows is that it is twice as big as the standard allows, so he marks it as a fail. The panel price you will be recharged would be roughly £200+vat.
    He looks at the dents on the opposite door, all are fails. Normally they charge you around £55+vat to remove one dent, which is somewhere between the retail and trade price for having it done. But not all dents can be removed, and with three on a panel there is a higher chance they would not be able to remove one of them, so they charge you the price of repainting the door. Again this is £200+vat.

    So you now face recharges of £400+vat. But in the real world, a bodyshop at a dealership would likely charge more than this for painting two panels.
    And in the real world, they would have to fade out the paintwork into the panels either site, so you'd actually have to have to paint 6 panels and pay nearer £1200+vat to have the work done! Plus the car would likely be off the road for 3 days.

    So in my opinion, the recharges they make are very fair.

    However, there is an alternative which can save you large amounts of money. You get a copy of the standard and an inspection form and you inspect the car yourself (or bring it to a company like the one I work for which can inspect the car for you), and you have the work done yourself.

    On our hypothetical car we had a 50mm scratch which the lease inspector didn't know would buff out or not so he charged panel price. To try and buff it out may only cost £25. You might not be able to remove it completely, but if you can reduce it to less than 25mm and touch-in the rest, then it will pass.
    And having the dents done - removing one might cost £55-£65+vat, but having three on the same panel would work out more cost effective and may only be £100.
    Again, you may not be able to completely remove one of the dents. In which case, the dent removal technician probably won't charge you for it... but he may be able to reduce it's size to less than 10mm so that it falls within acceptable standards.

    So you can easily see that you can reduce your charges from £400+vat to around £125+vat or less. Although I will remind you of the original post on this thread -- All work must be carried out to an acceptable standard so go to reputable companies, preferably on recommendation.

    If anybody wants to inspect a car themselves, do a search for: "DIY Lease Return Inspections" and you will find a page that links to a PDF inspection form with instructions. You will also need a copy of the Fair Wear & Tear Standard, you can buy these from the BVRLA but your lease broker should be able to supply you one for free if you ask nicely.

    I agree with you, buying a used car is another option... I have just got myself a Focus last week. But you should be aware that cars devalue most during the first 3 years, you are still getting pretty steep devaluation on a one-year-old car. Furthermore, because of the state of the economy, people are not buying new cars, which means that used cars are expensive... "Hugely overpriced" is what one trader told me. So you could easily pay over the odds now, and then find the used car market has fallen again in a couple of years when you want to sell. I'm afraid there is no easy answers to escaping devaluation. :confused:
  • SirbendySirbendy Forumite
    537 posts
    Au contraire..I'm currently running a courtesy lease, as my vehicle got written off - I've been told the rules, given the "return it with 1/2 a tank", had the inspection, taken out the damage waiver etc..I've photographed it, the guy has inspected it.

    It's a lovely machine, but I'm looking for a new vehicle ASAP..Astra for £2k..not going to lose much cash on that..OR, an ace in the hat, a 1995 Astra that fits my needs for £490...I'd like to see that lose any value..heh..

    Bangernomics FTW.
  • Some "old bangers" in the right condition, can actually go up in value if they are collectable, MkII VW Golf GTIs spring to mind.
    And as 'modern classics', you can also have them on rather cheap classic car insurance if you are willing to put up with limited mileage allowance.
This discussion has been closed.

Quick links

Essential Money | Who & Where are you? | Work & Benefits | Household and travel | Shopping & Freebies | About MSE | The MoneySavers Arms | Covid-19 & Coronavirus Support