Thought I’d share my experiences with US Bank. My father leased a Volt through them in November 2013, before GM Financial existed. Biggest difference from our perspective is that, compared to a captive lender, 1) don’t expect any semblance of customer service and 2) expect to be dinged on any wear or tear.
As is customary, they send AutoVIN to do a pre-return inspection. AutoVIN sends the report back to US Bank, who then determines if the wear is “normal” or “excess.” If excessive, US Bank assigns a cost to each repair.
In our case, AutoVIN found a scuff in the front plastic air dam, as well as a small paint scratch on the front bumper and rear bumper. US Bank’s deemed this wear to be “excessive” and provided an estimated bill of $1,000+ for these repairs. Parts included an entire new front bumper and air dam, and labor consisted of painting and installing the new front bumper and a touch-up of the rear bumper.
To me, the wear clearly fell within the “normal” wear and tear guidelines that were mailed to us in a brochure. So we declined to repair the items, planning instead on disputing the charges. After all, it’s ludicrous to replace and paint an entire bumper for a scuff on an entirely separate part, the unpainted air dam.
We went ahead and returned the vehicle. The local Chevrolet dealer wouldn’t take the car – another disadvantage of a non-captive lender. We called US Bank, who found a local Ford dealer to use instead. About a month later, the $1,000+ bill came in.
I could go into detail about the dispute “process”, but in short, the process is bogus and opaque. Pursuant to instructions I received by phone, I submitted a letter and included all sorts of documentation as to how the charges are erroneous. We received no response, except for overdue bill statements. I called multiple times and got the runaround each time (“sorry, we’ve got a backlog – you’ll hear from us soon.”) Finally, in April, five months after the lease return, I’m told over the phone that a response was mailed to us in January. I had to follow-up with them three times to obtain a copy. The letter itself is a generic response saying that the charges are valid and the matter is final.
So, in short, if leasing through US Bank, fix any so-called excess wear and tear before returning the car, even if it’s normal wear and tear. Keep the receipts. In hindsight, a new plastic air dam would have cost $50 from the dealer, and a touch-up is at most $200 from a body shop. Don’t expect to successfully dispute anything; I have no reason to believe there has ever been a successful dispute. And I can see why – to US Bank, it’s free money. Don’t expect any goodwill, unlike with a captive lender who cares about customer retention.
On the upside, we were still better off leasing than buying. The residual was $22,662 and the car likely sold at auction for $12,000. Even accounting for the $7,500 federal tax credit US Bank got, they still lost a bunch of money.
Thanks for reading!