Auto lender buyout quotes on leases can vary - WSMV Channel 4

CBS 5 Advocate

Auto lender buyout quotes on leases can vary

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A Phoenix man thinks the lender for his leased vehicle is pulling a fast one related to the buyout price to end the lease early and acquire the car.

The actions of U.S. Bank in this case are legal, but not common in Arizona. Still, it could happen to any consumer, so you need to know how to get around it.

"I'm their customer and they don't seem to care," David Henson said.

Henson wanted to buy out the lease on his 2011 Chrysler and trade it in on a new Lexus. Henson says the lease company on the Chrysler, U.S. Bank, told him the buyout was around $20,800. But when the Lexus dealership called U.S. Bank on Henson's behalf to facilitate the buyout, Henson says the Lexus dealer was quoted a buyout price that was $6,000 more.

"They called me and they said, 'Wow, what's going on? We've never heard of this,'" Henson said.

Henson says U.S. Bank told him that the $20,800 buyout was for him only. If a dealer writes the check, as they might on a trade-in deal, the bank could sell the vehicle for whatever price it wanted.

"He said that's what the market will bear now, so we can get that, so that's what we're going to do," Henson said.

But the "purchase option at end of lease term" clause only refers to one buyout price and Henson says he sees nothing about charging different prices to different people written in his lease.

"I've read it completely, I've looked it over, it tells me a buyout figure at the end, and that's it," Henson said.

Dealers typically handle buyouts on trade-ins for their customers and it is not common to see a different quote for dealers. Henson doesn't think there should be.

"What difference does it make who buys the car? If the car's worth $20,000, it's worth $20,000 to whoever," Henson said.

U.S. Bank points out that leased vehicles are owned by the lender, not the dealer. Two different quotes are uncommon because lenders can rarely get a better third party deal, but they do have the right to try.

So, if this happens to you, do what Henson did, have the dealer write you a check, you buy the car at the lower price, then transfer title to the dealer.

The dealer may not agree, but it may be your only option.

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