Jamie and Anthea’s story is one many couples can relate to. Three years ago they took out a personal contract purchase package on a new Mercedes-Benz CLK Convertible, but with children now on the way the car became too impractical.
The final balloon payment was due, but seeing as the car was now worth less than this payment, they decided to hand back the car. As is customary, BCA logistics were sent by Mercedes to inspect the car at Jamie and Anthea’s home in Glasgow. Jamie was expecting a damage report of around £400 considering the CLK’s light wheel scuffs and bonnet chips. A breakdown of costs totalling £355.17 was issued and, seemingly, all was fine.
Then, 13 days later, a second inspection report was issued. Suddenly the total had increased to £3468.75, mainly due to serious roof damage that wasn’t present at the first inspection. The second report also showed that the car had travelled 175 miles farther than it needed to on its way back to BCA’s given address.
Jamie contacted Helpdesk and we approached BCA and Mercedes UK, asking why the second inspection was carried out without Jamie’s approval. We also wanted to know why the reason given for needing a second inspection was wet weather during the initial one, when in fact the photos show a completely dry day.
Mercedes was quick to respond, and agreed that there had been a problem with its process in this instance, and that it would absorb the costs added at the second inspection, leaving Jamie the original £355.17 to pay.
A spokesman for the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said: ‘Leasing companies have a variety of end-of-contract procedures. The process should be completely transparent for the customer. All customers should receive a condition report, advising them of any charges that are due, together with summary details of how these charges are calculated.’
Jamie said: ‘Mercedes De-Fleet and Remarketing has apologised profusely and stated that even if the revised figure was one penny above what was initially asked for it would have been unacceptable.’
What if this happens to you?
- Get your own independent inspection of the car before you hand it back. This will highlight any damage that you could get fixed yourself.
- Request to be present at the car's inspection and take note of the time, the light and the weather.
- Take your own photographs at the time of inspection, and query each item picked up by the examiner at the time.
We've prepared lots of useful advice, including a full guide on warranties that could help you with either a new or used car.
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