roof dents
Fair wear and tear? Roof dents (for illustration purposes only)
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SOMETIMES it seems like a lose-lose situation.

You return a hard-worked lease car with a few little scrapes and dents and expect some financial penalty. But what if the hire company levies more than you expect for end-of-lease charges? There can be a remedy.

The Financial Ombudsman has released this case study.

When Mr V reached the end of the finance agreement on his car, he returned the car to the hire company he’d leased it from. The company contacted him to confirm his contract had ended. And they also sent him a bill with some additional charges.

Mr V wasn’t happy with all the charges – in particular, £350 relating to damage to the roof of the car.

When he asked for more information, the company told him there were dents in the roof. They said they’d made it clear that Mr V would be charged for this kind of damage.

Two dents or three?

Mr V maintained that he hadn’t damaged the car’s roof. But when the company insisted he pay the charge, he turned to the Financial Ombudsman for help.

Mr V told the ombudsman he’d known he’d scratched the front of the car – and he’d expected to pay for this, as well as for extra mileage.

But he said the hire company hadn’t given him much information about the damage to the roof. They’d only told him the roof was dented in three places – and that their policy allowed up to two dents.

The ombudsman asked to see the paperwork the hire company had given Mr V which explained that the company considered “fair wear and tear” to the roof as a maximum of two dents – each no longer than 2cm.

Photographic evidence

The hire company sent the ombudsman photos they’d taken during their inspection of the car. They’d highlighted three areas where they said the roof was damaged – with a ruler next to the dents they’d identified.

But looking at the photos, the ombudsman could only see two dents. And going by the ruler in the images, each of these was only around 2cm long.

They asked the hire company if they had any other photos that showed the third dent they’d identified, but they said they’d provided the only photos they had.

The ombudsman concluded: “From what we’d seen, the dents on Mr V’s car fell under ‘fair wear and tear’ – as set out in his contract. In the circumstances, we told the hire company to waive the £350 charge relating to the dents.”

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