1. Archive

Communication dispels car lease confusion

I need help to resolve an issue with Chase Manhattan Bank. Several years ago I leased a car that I financed through Chase. At the end of the lease period, I returned the car to the dealer; a representative from the dealership told me the bank would contact me.

A month later, I received a lease return letter from the bank. I called the leasing department to inform it I had already returned the car to the dealer. At that time the bank representative told me that if I owed any money the bank would contact me. Since I had been told twice that the bank would contact me, and since I never received any bill or correspondence from the bank, I assumed that the disposition fee had been paid at the front end of the lease.

Recently I found out that there is an item from Chase on my credit report indicating a "write-off" of $511. When I called the bank to inquire about this, I was referred to the recoveries department, where I spoke with a very rude woman. She could not tell me what the charge was for and when I asked for billing statements, she said, "the bank does not have to prove that it billed you."

I called the department manager twice and left messages requesting that she call me back. I also sent her a letter. I mailed the same letter to three other bank addresses, to auto finance customer service, account inquiries and customer service. I have not received any response from anyone except for an unsigned bill from the recoveries department telling me to pay $634.94.

Next, I tried asking for a copy of my lease and information about the disposition of the car. I also requested an account of what bills were sent and to what address. I have sent this request twice to Chase Auto Leasing in Wilmington, Del., to the Tampa address on the bill, and to the dealership.

Thus far, I can get no information from any bank representative. Since I never received any bill from Chase, I am uncertain what this charge is. I cannot pay a bill unless I know what it is for. Can you help me get information from Chase about this matter? Myra Hernandez

Response: Lisa Tursellino, assistant vice president and executive correspondence manager for Chase Manhattan Automotive Finance Corp. in Garden City, N.Y., said you received a direct response from Chase but that its privacy policy did not permit her to release your information without your consent. Apparently your letter seeking our help was not enough.

A day after we received her letter, however, we got yours, so we're happy we can let your fellow readers know that you were contacted by a vice president of automotive finance who explained the charges in question and apologized for not informing you of the unpaid balance "in a timely manner." He also told you that in the interest of customer relations the balance has been waived and your account updated to reflect that it is settled in full. The credit reporting agencies have also been notified to update their records.

We're glad we were able to help open the lines of communication. We have one suggestion, however. Wait a few months and get copies of your credit report from the three main credit reporting agencies to make certain this delinquent account has been removed. The credit agencies are Equifax, toll-free 1-800-685-1111,; Experian, toll-free 888-397-3742,; and Trans Union, toll-free 1-800-916-8800,

You will be charged about $9 for each, but we think this price is worth your peace of mind. Plus, it's a good idea to look over copies of your credit reports at least once a year anyway, to check for possible fraud.

Rebate is on its way

On June 23, I purchased a Buslink 52X internal CD-RW drive with a $30 mail-in rebate from Staples. All necessary forms were mailed the same day. On July 1, I received an e-mail from stating that my rebate was received and approved and I should receive the check within 30 days. I sent e-mail inquiries about the rebate in August, September and October. Each time I received a return e-mail that state the same thing: The rebate was approved, and the check would be mailed within 30 days.

To date I have received nothing. All correspondence with the company is attached for your review. Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Frank Sevick

Response: Karen Bailey, customer relations specialist for Staples in Framingham, Mass., said she contacted you with an apology for your inconvenience and assurances that your rebate check would be issued and sent to you immediately. Let us know if you do not receive it.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.