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Greater communication with drivers key to reducing damage charges

Educating and advising drivers on the expected condition of vehicles returned at the end of lease contracts is critical to avoiding damages, the BVRLA has said.

Speaking last week at ACFO’s Spring Seminar (27th March 2019) ahead of the arrival of the association’s updated ‘Fair Wear and Tear Guide: Cars’ industry standard, Nora Leggett, the BVRLA’s head of member services, said greater transparency was needed.

“Many people do not know how to look after a vehicle,” said Leggett, who revealed that the organisation’s dispute resolution service had handled more than double the number of complaints in the past three years, with the vast majority relating to vehicle damage.

“Customers are not aware of their responsibilities. But the BVRLA wants to ensure that drivers receive information on how they should service and maintain vehicles and generally ensure they are looked after so they are returned in good condition and to a standard in accordance with the Guide.”

Leggett advised that to potentially avoid any charges, drivers should self-appraise a vehicle 10-12 weeks prior to its return, thereby providing enough time for repairs to be undertaken and any missing items, for example a spare key, replaced.

She also urged leasing companies and vehicle providers to have more contact with their customers during the lifetime of the contract.

“We want leasing companies to act as more of an adviser to customers and educate. I don’t think that it is fair that there is no contact with drivers over the period of a contract, usually three years.

“Customers fear that they will be treated harshly by their supplier so our members must be seen to be undertaking a fair vehicle appraisal/assessment at the end of a contract and advise customers accordingly.”

Leggett finished: “The aim of the guide is to describe the condition vehicles should be returned in and to be a source of advice to drivers. I don’t think that we can eradicate complaints, but we can make a much better job as to what ‘fair wear and tear’ standards are and how they can be implemented at end of lease.”

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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