My wife and I leased a wonderful vehicle from BMW; however our experience with the local dealership was one that left a bad taste in our mouths. We’ll regrettably never be leasing from them again. Below are a few photos of our vehicle the day we turned in our lease, and below that is the letter that I sent to both the dealership and to the President of BMW of North America describing our experience. I hope this blog entry can help someone else avoid the troubles that we did.
BMW of North America, LLC
May 7, 2013
To whom it may concern,
My wife and I leased a BMW 135i in June of 2010 from “BMW of Melbourne” in Melbourne, Florida. It was due to be returned next month. We are returning it today, almost 2 months early.
Yesterday, with only one remaining payment on our lease and very little mileage, I attempted to make a deal with the Sales Manager, Jeff Smith. I asked if I could turn in the vehicle early. I explained that although we were permitted 30,000 miles during our lease period, we had only driven a total of 12,800 miles. Additionally, the vehicle was kept in our garage and very well maintained. In other words it was in fantastic condition. Literally, not a scratch could be found on the vehicle. You could open the door and still taste that “new car smell”. Given the excellent condition of the vehicle, he agreed that although the rear tires were worn to the point that they would need to be replaced (after only 12,800 miles) if I were to turn the car in now, he would “eat the cost of the tires” and buy the car back for resale. He was very clear in indicating that each tire would cost us $200 if we kept it to the end of the lease, so this was a no-brainer for him to only have to invest $400 in tires and be able to resale such a fine vehicle with so few miles.
Of course, he said that I would have to make the remaining lease payment and a $350 “acquisition fee”; however considering my offer he said he’d take the car back early given the conditions agreed upon above. I shook his hand and said I’d be right back. I went straight home and got my wife so that we could bring the car in.
After only a short period of time (perhaps 30 minutes) I had returned to the dealership with the vehicle. The Sales Manager, Jeff Smith, met with me and tried to find someone who could do a lease final inspection. Of course, as the car was in perfect condition with the exception of the premature wear on the rear tires, I figured this was going to be a breeze. Upon finding a service technician to do the inspection I was informed that the inspection could not be done at this time, as it was now 4:30 pm and they were going to leave at 5 pm. So much for customer service. Additionally, I was now told that the agreement we had was “contingent” on the tires not needing to be replaced. This is a complete 180 degree contradictory statement to the agreement we’d made only less than an hour prior! We spent the next 10 minutes or so debating what we’d agreed upon; however in the end it became apparent to me that the Sales Manager may have been making promises that he didn’t have the authority to make. We agreed to leave the vehicle with the dealership overnight and that they’d do the inspection first thing in the morning. I asked that Jeff Smith call my wife when he was able to give us more information. He promised that he would do whatever he could to ensure that he would be able to stick to the agreement we’d made, despite his adamant statements to the contrary.
He called my wife this morning, at approximately 10:30 am to let us know that the inspection is underway. We heard nothing more from him all day. Finally around 2:45 pm I decided to give him a call. I got his voice mail on both his cell and his office number. I then called the operator at the dealership and asked to speak to “whoever can help me with turning in a lease”. After some time I was told that Jeff Smith would be calling me back. About 10 minutes passed. Jeff Smith called me and informed me that he could do nothing for me. He said that had I bought or leased another BMW, it would be different; however since we did not I was simply out of luck. He informed me although that the inspection was complete and we would be charged $600 for the 2 rear tires instead of the $400 I was originally quoted! Again, he tells me another lie. He told me we had the option to come pick up the car; however he was quick to point out that in two months the front two tires may not pass inspection and I could be faced with even more damages.
My chief complaints are the following.
- We had an agreement to turn in the vehicle early and the Sales Manager reneged. This deal would have benefited the dealership greatly, as they will be able to easily re-sale this vehicle and make a nice profit. This was a win-win for both parties, as I would have saved a little money on the fee for tires that wore prematurely.
- I was returning a vehicle with 18,000 miles less than I was allowed. How much would BMW have charged me had I gone over on mileage? It seems that nitpicking on the cost of tires given how little miles we actually put on the car is not a good way to do business.
- I was told that if I held on to the vehicle until the end of the lease I would be facing a $200/tire fee when in fact it turned out to be $300/tire for a total of $600.
- The “run flat” tires on this vehicle are unbelievably absurd. I’ve never in my life heard of a tire that only lasts less than 13,000 miles. That is inexcusable, and the fact that I had to pay for them is even more so.
In the end, I decided it was not worth the hassle anymore and we just turned in the vehicle early. We have been so completely frustrated by the lack of integrity shown to us by the Sales Manager and ease with which he lied to me that we will never lease nor buy another BMW from this dealership again. I plan to inform all of my friends and family about this incident and especially about this particular dealership. It’s a common saying that car salesmen are sleazy. This guy really takes the cake.
This is a very unfortunate end to what we considered a great time leasing this vehicle. We never had any trouble with it and truly loved it. However; this experience has soured us to the core. I would love for BMW of America to try to make things right. I can’t imagine that misleading customers is a policy that BMW maintains. Unfortunately my future with this particular dealership is finished. I’ll certainly share my experience with my family and friends and peers at work.
Christopher L. Kirkman
Cc: BMW of Melbourne, FL
Unfortunately, shortly after this disaster of a situation from the dealer, I received an email from BMW of North America letting me know that there was also nothing they could or would do to satisfy my wife and I. Consequently, we’ll never purchase nor lease a BMW again. Although I prefer German cars, as they are typically very well made, we replaced this vehicle with a fine American car. My wife now proudly drives a Ford Focus, which gets fantastic mileage. And guess what? The tires don’t wear out at an unreasonable rate, and the dealer treats her with the respect she deserves…and because of that she’s likely to be a loyal customer in the future.