Car leasing & post contract fair wear & tear charges
Having leased vehicles in the past, I was aware of post contractual inspections on the return of the vehicle. However, I was astonished by the inspection and outcome of a recenty returned vehicle I'd had for 3 years. The inspection, by Manhheim on behalf of Novuna Vehicle Solutions, took over an hour and was done with what I can only refer to as microscopically forensic detail; the Police could have been seriously embarassed by comparison.
The so-called fair wear and tear levels used were ludicrously small in tolerance for a vehicle 3 years old with 36,000 on the clock. By way of example, macro photograhy was used to find 4 minute pin-!!!!!! paint "chips" of bertween 0.1mm and 0.15 mm in size, that were between 3 & 4 mm apart, inside a door opening. This they deemed as being an in excess of 15mm area of paint damage (they actually sit collectiveliy within 15 mm), which they want to charge £175 for. Whilst some were fair enough - I'd guess around £300 ish - most were of this ilk, yet the total bill initially presented, was £1,025.00 . Having complained to the car leasing company, the bill was reduced to just over £670, but I felt this was still way in excess of what was reasonable, so I asked them, "if you're asking me to pay this revised bill, then please can you send me evidence that you have carried out the repairs you claim were necessary, and I will pay it". Their response was as follows: "Our contract states that we do not have to carry out such repairs". Interesting! So, what their contract allowes, is that they can carry out such close forensic inspections, send you a large bill, not have to cary out any of the so called required damage repairs, but can still charge you for it.
Astonishingly, the Financial Ombudsman upheld their stance because it states this in their contract, and that makes it fair! Really!? I mentioned that under the new FSA Consumer Dutry rules, they may not have got away with this, to which they said I had a point about, but of course that only applies from 31st July 2023, and my contract pre-dated that.
My question is this: If a contract that allows such practices to be judged as fair by the Ombudsman, then I'm at a loss to understand how that can be (and I'm not blaming them - it's the framework they operate within). Surely, if you are being billed for something, you have a right to know that those things have indeed been carried out if you are being asked to pay for them? If a builder gave you an invoice for work carried out that they didn't actually do, would that be judged as fair because their contract said so? Surely this should be regarded as unfair/sharp practice, and potentially even fraudulent in nature?
Is this something consumers groups should be looking to address?
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