VW Passat Complaint - "Retail" Lease
I leased a 2006 Passat from Palisades Volkswagen, in Nyack, NY. It was a 4-year lease. During those 4 years, it had numerous repairs (fuel pump "melted", both boot blocks cracked, coolant system crack, and then your various brake jobs, 8 tire replacements, and more -- I drive a LOT). Every time I diligently took it in for service, it had recalls to be fixed. While I had VW's before, this Passat seemed to be laden with defects. With 9 months left on my lease, faced with more repairs, I talked to my sales person and voiced my dissatisfaction, wishing to turn the car in early and pay the penalty. I wanted to be rid of the car and its headaches. He, now the finance manager of that dealership, told me to turn in the car with the remaining payments, and that would be it.
When I called VW Credit to get the exact amount of payments left, I was surprisingly informed I could not turn in my car, regardless of my agreement to pay the penalty, because it would then be considered a "Voluntary Termination" and would adversely affect my credit. I had never heard of this, nor had the salesman who leased me the car when I called him to confirm! According to VW Credit, I have to wait until 90 days before the lease was up, and that was the earliest I may turn in the car, even paying the penalty! I made it painfully clear my dissatisfaction, and my intent to purchase another car, and pleaded to turn in this car to be rid of it and its headaches.
Had I leased another VW, they were ready to let me break the lease. (I had broken 2 previous leases when I moved up into another VW.) But since I was not, the same consideration vanished. I was a loyal VW customer for YEARS, and touted the brand when everyone else I know steered clear of it. Had they looked at their policy and realized that they could recoup the value of the car more quickly on their lot than in my garage during the next six months, they would see that allowing me to turn it in -- paying a significant penalty -- would be more beneficial to them, and a win-win for both. Now, I will use my connections to virally spread the word of my dissatisfaction so that future VW customers can make a more educated decision on whether to do business with VW.
In this economy, with the magnitude of auto choices available, VW needs to brush up on their understanding of brand management and customer loyalty. When customers vanish, so does the brand.