Automotive News reports on an alleged scam regarding lease turn-in charges for consumer vehicles and an ongoing court case.¬† The case started with Ford Credit’s assessment of $2,658 for excess wear and use on a Windstar that a consumer leased from 2000 to 2003 through Ford Credit’s Red Carpet program.¬† Ford Dealerships conducted lease-end inspections until 2006, when the lender switched to third-party inspectors.¬† When¬†the consuymer¬†contested the charge, the lender sued to collect the full amount without disclosing that a second “verifying inspection” had appraised the Windstar’s excess use and wear at only $194.¬† The consumer, in turn, counterclaimed for breach of contract, violation of the federal Consumer Leasing Act and other allegations. In part, he asserts that the standard leases required inspections “based on our standards for normal use,” with no charge for vehicles returned with “average” use. However, Ford Credit’s dealer handbook and templates applied a stricter “clean” criterion, meaning “the vehicle is in great condition with only minor dents and chips.”¬† The counterclaims also assert that the lender’s operating procedure that held dealerships financially responsible for underestimates created incentives for inspections “biased towards an overcharge.” The result, the consumer contends, was a systematic overcharge of lessees.¬† A judge certified a national class of lessees. In addition, a certified subclass of Ohio lessees seeks punitive damages for fraud or misrepresentation under state law.¬† If a jury holds Ford Credit liable for breach of contract, the lender would be required to refund all excess wear and use charges collected from its lessees. Ford Credit could also be liable for statutory damages if a jury finds its wear and use standards were unreasonable.