Chase Auto Finance Sucks!

So a guy in Cos Cob lists his Subaru on Craig’s list: 2007, take over lease, low mileage etc. My brother in Maine spots the ad, knows I’m looking for a car for my daughter, sends it me and there you have the new commerce model, internet style: car in Cos Cob, send ad 500 miles north to Maine, return it to Riverside and buyer and seller, two miles apart, meet. Pretty cool.

But that’s not why I’m writing. The lease this fellow has is with Chase Auto Finance. Paragraph 35 of the lease says “you may not assign or sublease this agreement without the prior, written consent of Chase. Chase may refuse to permit such assignment or sublease if in good faith it believes that such assignment …may jeopardize its security” blah blah blah.

First call to Chase yields a nice young man with a working, if primitive command of the English language. “Chase doesn’t permit assignments of leases” he says. Period. We eventually bump our way up to his supervisor, Chealsea, who does employ English as her native tongue but she too speaks only the party line: Chase doesn’t permit assignments. ‘What about Paragraph 35?” I ask. “Chase doesn’t permit assignments.””” “What about that bit in Paragraph 35 that says Chase can refuse only if it in good faith feels its security threatened?” Same answer. “So you’re telling me,” I ask, knowing that the call is being recorded,”on the record, that without any investigation into our credit history you in good faith feel that your security interest would be jeopardized by a sub-lease, in which the original lessor remains liable on the lease?” “Chase doesn’t permit assignments”.

Chase offers only one choice to lessees who want to end a lease: pay the entire balance due, period. No assignment,no sublease. This position is completely at odds with its contractual obligations under the lease instrument Chase drafted and Chase imposes on its customers. Chelsea practically begged me to sue them secure in the knowledge that she was speaking on behalf of “a very large bank”. And I’d love to do it. Would they lose? In a heartbeat. Are they violating Connecticut’s consumer protection/unfair trade practices acts? Absolutely. Of course, Chase slipped in a binding arbitration clause so a defrauded lessee probably can’t take his case before a jury but he would certainly win on the law, regardless of who tried the case. The real reason for the arbitration clause is to shield Chase from a class action suit. I’m no fan of such suits but here, where Chase is deliberately breaking its own word to squeeze newly-unemployed customers, I’d kill to bring one. 

Will I sue? No – it’s not my car, and the lessee leaves the country tomorrow. We can probably arrange a work-around and consummate the deal, but Chase emerges unscathed. How many people can no longer afford their leases? How many people is Chase fleecing by refusing to let them assign their leases? We’ll never know. Are these crooks on the government bailout giveaway list?

5 Comments

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate

5 responses to “Chase Auto Finance Sucks!

  1. CEA

    What a charmer Mr. Rosenstiel sounds like! He tried to sub-divide Conyers Farm into 0.25 acre lots for “moderate income housing”, was refused, and took it to court – where he got slapped down. Then Peter Brant bought it and made it into 10-acre lots.

    Can you imagine quarter-acre lots there?

    “In 1936, Mr. Converse sold the property for $800,000 to the founder of Schenley Distillers, Lewis Rosenstiel, who shocked Greenwich in the early 70’s by attempting to downzone the property from four acres to quarter-acre lots. When he sued the town for rejecting his scheme to build hundreds of moderate-cost housing units, state courts struck down his plan as an overwhelming burden on municipal resources.

    Peter Brant, a polo enthusiast and owner of Bato Company and Riviere du Loup Newsprint Ltd. in Greenwich, bought the property for $18 million in 1980.

    For the past 20 years, he has lived at White Birch Farm, a 200-acre spread facing Conyers Farm on North Street, with a polo field and training track. Last spring he was convicted in Federal Court in Bridgeport of charging $1.5 million worth of personal items to business accounts and was sentenced to three months in the Federal Correctional Institute in Danbury, starting Sept. 17.

    He was also fined $200,000 and required to perform 500 hours of community service. Mr. Brant has an unlisted phone number and Joan Caldwell, his property manager, said he could not be located for an interview. “

  2. Retired IB'er

    “Are these crooks on the government bailout giveaway list?”

    Ah, yes JP Morgan Chase (though the easier question seems to be who is not getting government money).

  3. Jack McClure

    Great story, and frustrating.
    My suggestion: write certified letter to Chase Legal Dept. Worked for me (eventually) some years back. VP of Consumer Satisfaction, or words like that, called me, made offer which I negotiated down.
    Suggestion #2: It would be great if you would Blog about how to buy out a lease NOW, that the banks are all in trouble. They’re selling REO at very low prices. Why not lease buyouts?
    I’d like to buy a car now leased by older couple from US Bank. They have 16 months to go on 48-month lease. Payments are too high, because they didn’t negotiate a very good deal. They just want out of the lease, with no cash; they listed at LeaseTrader.com.
    If they just stopped payments and turned the car in to USB, they’d take a credit rating hit, a little like letting their mortgagor take over their home.
    I want to buy the car, and am willing to pay Kelley BlueBook Private Party value — thousands more than TradeIn value shown. Seems like everyone should come out OK.
    But, I don’t know how to negotiate with US Bank.
    Maybe you can blog and lend your expertise. Maybe you can even set up a service, charge a fee (as LeaseTrader does), or advise LeaseTrader in offering a service for early buyout. I for one would be willing to pay $100 or $200 to LeaseTrader if they offered this now. There have to be others who would want such a service, since taking over existing lease is not attractive at old rates, which fail to recognize much lower car values now.
    Could be a business opportunity for you, in your practice. And, you have the fire in your belly already…
    –Jack McClure

  4. Sandiahead

    I am a Chase Auto Finance customer and I got to this page by googling “Chase Auto Finance sucks”. I can tell you first hand that even aside from their nonsense in regards to contract law they’re a bunch of morons. Some of the most inept telephone customer service representatives I’ve talked to are from Chase. They’ve also taken it upon themselves more than once to authorize and automatic loan payment without my consent. I’m looking forward to five years from now as I won’t have to deal with their crap anymore. Good luck!