Second inspection after lease return inspection at dealership?

Hi everyone, I am hoping someone might have some insight into my seemingly unusual return inspection situation.

Three days before the end of my 36 mo. BMW lease, I was in an accident and had to extend the lease while the car was undergoing extensive body work on the front part of the car. BMWFS was very understanding each time I called to extend again and pay another month’s lease due to delays in the repair.

When the car was finally ready, BMWFS had already granted a grace period of almost two weeks into the 4th month and was understandably going to have to charge me the 4th month if I couldn’t return the car in the next few days. Since the body shop was hoping to get the needed part within the next two days, I asked BMWFS what to do if the car was finished in the next couple days, but I couldn’t get an appointment for a return inspection at my leasing dealership (Proactively I had already called dealerships in the area and none would do a return for a lease they didn’t write - at least at this particular time in July 2021). The BMWFS representative said to call the leasing manager when the car was ready and to tell him/her that I had been instructed by BMWFS to return the car that day.

The evening the car was ready, I did as instructed and left a message for the leasing manager. I relayed in the message what BMWFS said about returning the car immediately and gave the time I would arrive unless another time that day would be better for them. I heard nothing back so I arrived at the dealership late morning at the time I left in the voice mail.
The gentleman helping me asked if I had an appointment for the return. I told him about BMWFS’s instructions and about the message I left the night before. He told me I could turn over the keys, and he could record the return date, but they wouldn’t be able to inspect it until the next morning. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this, but all of my other lease returns were fair and problem-free, so I didn’t question it.

A few weeks later, I received the invoice from BMWFS. In addition to the invoice, two inspection reports were enclosed, which initially appeared identical.

The first inspection report was dated the morning after I turned in the car, which corresponded to when the gentleman at the dealership said the car would be inspected. The report noted 4 dents - 2 of which were marked normal wear and tear, and 2 classified as excess with a charge of $100 for each. Each of the 4 dents had measurements and descriptions that corresponded to the pre-printed criteria on the inspection report for the category into which each was placed.

The second inspection report was dated 6 days later. It had the same inspection number and contained the same 4 areas of damage with no change to any of the measurements or descriptions.

But on this second version dated 6 days later, one of the normal wear items changed geography on the report from normal to excess, now with a cost of $100.

A second item, a quarter panel dent, was categorized as excess in both versions and both had the same damage measurements and descriptions which were in alignment with the form’s criteria, but in the second report, the charge was changed from $100 to $3,500.

After carefully reviewing both inspections field by field, I confirmed that the reports were identical except for the inspection date and time, the movement of the one dent from normal to excess and the associated $100 charge, the change of the quarter panel charge from $100 to $3,500 and the summary of charges increasing from $200 to $3,700.

After much back and forth with BMWFS, they offered a take-it-or-leave-it $600 reduction of my balance “to maintain good client relations.” This ‘balance’ was only the difference between the two inspection reports because I had already paid the amount of the invoice minus the additional costs added to the second report.

I declined and said that absent any written proof that a second inspection after return was BMW policy, I was not going to waste more time debating them. A few days later I received what I can only assume to be what they considered proof - a copy of an inspection report from a 3rd party inspector containing the same damage areas and descriptions, but also containing pictures and a note under the quarter panel description that because of the depth, the entire quarter panel needed to be replaced for $3,500.

Besides not being proof to substantiate a second inspection after the dealership return inspection, why was I just now receiving this report with pictures and the additional statement instead of receiving it with the invoice?

Now, nine months later, credit alerts have started to fly into my inbox. BMWFS is now listed as a major derogatory for the amount of the difference between the two versions of the inspection report, and my credit score dropped 100 points from excellent to fair as a result.

Has anyone else had a second inspection performed after a lease return to the dealership and also received copies of both inspections along with the invoice? And if I am mistaken and for some reason unbeknownst to me, BMWFS has the right to perform two inspections after a lease return and is therefore justified in expecting payment for the charges from the second inspection, please let me know so I can make it right. I’m not trying to avoid paying a valid lease-end charge, but I certainly don’t want to pay the amount if I were a victim of a scam I never would have discovered if not for some sloppy paperwork. Thanks so much!

What a nightmare.

I know it’s impossible to go back in time, but leaving this unresolved at the time of the dispute is going to complicate the recovery.

It might still be possible to open an arbitration case per the terms of your lease agreement. The one I signed in 2019 requires BMWFS to pay for consumer-initiated arbitration for disputes < $25,000. They also have to pay your (reasonable) attorney fees if you prevail.

It could cost BMWFS somewhere around $2-3,000 just to have AAA or JAMS officially open the arbitration case, and then they have the internal administrative costs of handling the case if it moves forward.

They might just fold, write off the balance, and remove the credit report entries to avoid the whole affair.

But others will likely have some very good questions and other suggestions, so we probably aren’t at that point just yet. :slight_smile:

Similarly situated, I’d be concerned about how BMWFS typically handles bad debts… whether they stop at adverse credit reporting, or if they turn the debt over to outside collection agencies (or sell the paper to junk debt buyers), and/or are likely to sue you in this circumstance.