We need to give a shoutout to WPLG Local 10 and investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier. They have apparently uncovered some bad practices happening at “some” (not all) local dealerships in South Florida. According to their reporting, consumers are being charged all sorts of fees at the end of their lease that is NOT in their lease agreement.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
We all know there’s a car shortage. New cars are in short supply. Used cars are in short supply. And prices for both have gone through the roof. So the typical customers who lease cars every three years have a conundrum. At the lease end, they can just turn in their car and lease a new vehicle or they can purchase the leased vehicle outright at the agreed upon purchase price in the original lease agreement. The problem today is that they may not be able to lease the new car they want due to the shortage. Or they may not want to pay a significantly higher monthly payment due to the price increases in new vehicles. Furthermore, the buyout for their current vehicle is oftentimes a lot less than its current market value. Think about it. The typical 36 month lease was signed before the pandemic back in 2019. Nobody back in 2019 expected the skyrocketing prices of used vehicles we see today. This is causing a HUGE increase in customers who decide to purchase their vehicle at lease end. Of course, this is further exacerbating the shortage of used cars, but that’s a different story.
DEALERS ARE HURTING
It’s no secret that many dealers are hurting. The lack of inventory means they are not selling as many vehicles as they did pre-pandemic. WPLG is alleging that some dealers are using what they say are “illegal” tactics to charge consumers fees that were not in the original lease agreement.
According to WPLG, these tactics include the following:
- Charging a dealer fee above and beyond the agreed upon purchase price
- Requiring a mechanic to inspect the vehicle to “certify” the vehicle
- Charging a vehicle inspection / certification fee
Let’s start with the first part. You do not have to pay a “Dealer Fee” on your lease end purchase unless it was in the original lease agreement. According to WPLG, they are alleging some dealerships like Gunther Volkswagen are charging “Dealer Fees” on lease end buyouts. I repeat. Unless it’s on the agreement, you do not have to pay that fee. If the dealer gives you a hard time, go to another dealership or contact the financing company that manages your lease.
Furthermore, the WPLG report alleges that Gunther VW required a recertification inspection of your vehicle. Now, there is an inspection process that happens when you turn in a lease to make sure you have not incurred excess wear and tear on the vehicle. However, if you’re buying the car, none of that matters. Do not be fooled or strong armed at a dealership to have your vehicle “Re-Certified.” That’s just a bunch of hogwash. In fact, in many cases the car may still be under warranty. If something is actually wrong, you can get it taken care of for free. It appears this “re-certfication” is just an attempt to collect more revenues from unsuspecting customers. Do not pay for a recertification of a lease end deal you’re trying to purchase.
To be clear, we’re talking about when you lease a vehicle. At the end of the lease, you have the option to purchase the leased vehicle at the contracted purchase price. According to attorney Joshua Feygin, who was interviewed by WPLG, you do not have to pay any fee that is NOT in the lease agreement. Furthermore, if you did pay a fee, Feygin says you’re entitled to a refund.
WPLG REPORT: BIG FEES ON LEASE BUY OUTS
WPLG REPORT: GET A REFUND
Have you been charged a lease end dealer fee during a buyout? Were you charged a “Re-Certification” fee to have the vehicle you leased inspected before you bought it? Let us know in the comments or via social media. If you prefer, you can message us privately at feedback@MiamiCars.com