February 13, 2009
I recently went through the process of returning my leased Honda vehicle, here's how it went.
They (Honda Finance) start sending you notices in advance of the return date, but they trickle out the important information, in the end providing only a vague brochure as the bulk of the substance about the process.
Before returning the vehicle you must schedule an inspection, this cannot occur more than 45 days prior to returning the vehicle. Getting the inspection scheduled was a lot of back and forth and legwork on my side as they constantly failed to phone. I later discovered this was because they kept getting my phone number wrong even after several fixes. It was perhaps closer to 35 days when I finally was able to have the inspection done. The good part is that the inspection will happen wherever you are, the bad part is that the inspector uses cable company style scheduling (I'll be there between 10 and 6). The inspection report was due to arrive a few days later, but took more than a week because they screwed up my phone number again, as well as my email address. After finally receiving the inspection report I could then set about repairing the defects on the vehicle that went above normal wear and tear.
I knew there were some outstanding repairs as I left them until I knew exactly what they would be assessed as. I was quite surprised by the report, it omitted things that both I and the brochure I had been provided indicated would need to be repaired. It also included things that the brochure, myself and several other people indicated should be classified as normal wear and tear. So I guess it's a bit of a wash. On the plus side, the report details the charges for the items if you do not repair them and uses quite reasonable labour rates, below MPI rates in fact.
So by this time, it's about 25 days prior to return, getting body work done in the middle of December on short notice is a challenge at the best of times. One of the items I needed to repair was damage caused by a 3rd party for which I had initiated an MPI claim much earlier. This claim was stuck at MPI and took another week or two after the inspection report was received before it was finalized and I could actually schedule an appointment at the body shop. By then it was too late, the body shop was booked beyond the return date. In the end I found another shop that could do the work on short notice and was able to get most of the work done, but didn't have time for all the repair work I would have liked to finish before returning the vehicle.
Returning the vehicle to the dealer was quite easy. Any dealer can handle the return as they just need to receive the vehicle and fill out some paper work. A few weeks after the return, someone called to ask if that was my vehicle and why it was parked at the dealer, never did hear back from them. Honda Finance also called several times after the return to schedule an appointment to re-assess the vehicle after the work I had done. This was contradictory to the brochure which just indicated returning the vehicle with the receipts. Eventually they scheduled the inspection on their own. A copy of the new inspection report was returned with the final invoice for work. Oddly the inspection report missed several items that were on the initial report and added several items which weren't on the original. In the end the value balanced out to the same thing. Their dependence on these quick, one off inspections seems rather odd.
The final invoice did not include any documentation about how to submit payment. I called the number on the invoice several times over a period of weeks and left messages which weren't returned. Eventually someone got a hold of me and I was able to obtain the information necessary to submit final payment. Hopefully, this is the end of the story.
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