A first-time car buyer said he was unexpectedly charged a $1,000 lease fee that he said the dealer didn’t want to waive.
After driving a leased Kia Optima for three years, Benjamin Sugarman was shocked to see the extra money in his contract that promised no buyback.
Sugarman, a Pennsylvania-based real estate agent, wanted to purchase a Kia Optima from a lease he had signed three years earlier with Conshohocken-based Raceway Kia.
As he was about to sign the dotted line to make his purchase official, he noticed that the dealer had to pay a hefty $1,000 fee to buy out his lease.
In an email exchange with the merchant’s finance department, he politely asked for the fee to be removed, but was disappointed.
“I am willing to proceed with the purchase, but ask that you remove the $1,000 ‘Lease Buyout Fee’ as I have a $0 fee as part of my lease,” Sugarman wrote to the dealer, as The Inquirer reported.
The finance manager quickly responded and said, “This is the amount we charge to purchase your lease from this dealer. You can go to any PA Kia dealer if you want.”
The US Sun reached out to Raceway Kia of Conshohocken but declined to comment.
After doing some research, Sugarman was shocked to discover that Raceway Kia of Conshohocken was not the only dealer charging additional fees to those who wanted to purchase a car on a lease.
But most dealers have refused to even talk to Sugarman about his lease takeover, he said.
Others were more expensive than the original dealer.
Jim Sipala Kia of West Chester, for example, added an additional $1,000 to the vehicle’s price and a security check of nearly $400 to buy out his lease.
According to a Pennsylvania attorney general, these fees are illegal unless they are written into the lease from the start.
“We can now say with a clear conscience that certain fees may be illegal,” said a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
Feeling exhausted, Sugarman decided to pay the $1,000 fee and take his Optima home.
“In the end I just bit the bullet because I had no other choice,” Sugarman said.
“I wanted the car.”
While Sugarman ended up getting the car he wanted, he warned other car buyers to read contracts carefully and hopes dealers will be held accountable for surprise fees in the future.
“I want to see these fees eliminated,” Sugarman said, “and for dealers not to allow them for lease acquisitions.”