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Yet Another BAP Thread

2773 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Anonymouse
Note: After writing this, I saw other persons posting to other threads. To clarify, when speaking of buying from a used car dealer, I mean a private, non-MB dealer. If it is a MB dealer, you are almost certain that they are going to push the BAP lease, and quite possibly, have signed it themselves. Pay close attention to the documents that you sign, because if you did not sign the BAP agreement, you cannot be held to the terms of it. However the dealer might have pushed another type of document under your pen that did release your power of attorney to them. As always, buyer beware.

I am taking an interest in purchasing a used Smart Fortwo Electric. I had the anxiety about the Battery Assurance Plus (BAP) program, and how it affects used electric buyers. I called up Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS), was transferred over to a rep for the BAP program, and had an interesting conversation with the rep.

I created a couple of very possible scenarios for the rep to respond to, and what I came away with lessened the anxiety. Its not a total relief, but it is something that I can deal with. Though I believe that there are others here who could not.

Summarizing the scenarios and getting to the gist of the discussion.

1. Who ever is the last person to sign the BAP lease agreement, and not fulfill the terms, is responsible for either returning the battery back to MBFS, or paying off the $5010. MBFS would prefer the latter. If they pay the $5010, they battery warranty will continue for the remainder of the 10-years when first put into service.

Yes, this means if you somehow acquire the car and battery 9 years into the warranty, and sign the battery lease, and then want out, you will have to pay $5010. Of course, it would be cheaper to just pay the lease for 1 year.

Now if this person is the original lessee, they did fulfill the terms of the lease, and did return the battery back to MBFS, so they are exempt, and MBFS just takes the loss. MBFS hopes that someone will sign for a new battery lease, and if asked will tell dealers that they have to sign the lease or get someone else to sign the lease. But MBFS will not initiate investigations just to find cars that were sold, to see if someone didn't sign a lease.

2. If the used car dealer does not make the lease available to the buyer, or sells the vehicle without the buyer's signature on the new lease agreement, then the buyer is not held responsible for the battery lease terms. However, see 5 and 6.

3. Even though MBFS reserves ownership of the battery (even with a signed lease), they will not confiscate the battery. If the vehicle is brought into a MB certified dealer for any service, the dealer most likely will run a VIN check. That check will indicate the battery is a BAP battery without lease. If there is no battery service needed, the dealership will not do anything about the lack of a BAP lease. It is not of their concern. The dealership will not seize the battery or the vehicle. The dealership will not threaten to withhold repairs until you sign the lease. The dealership might report to MBFS the car is being serviced, and MBFS might request the owners information, and then might send the new owner a battery lease agreement, but they will not pursue any more than that.

4. A little clarification. The glider (car sans battery) was leased from MBFS, the battery was leased from MBFS under a different contract and terms. When the glider's lease ended, and the glider was resold, all connection to MBFS was dissolved. However, the battery in the glider is still tied to MBFS.

This means when you take the car in for service, such as a problem with the air conditioning, the MB certified dealer is either doing warranty work (in that case, MB, not MBFS pays the dealer), or the car is out of warranty, and you pay the dealer for their work.

If MBFS wanted to repossess the battery, they would have to pay the MB dealership to remove the battery, and then pay to have the battery shipped somewhere for recycling. This costs MBFS money. They might refurbish the battery, but they will lose money upfront, and will then have to find a way to recover that cost.

If MBFS were to repossess the entire car, they would have a legal problem, because the buyer did not agree to the terms of the lease (because they did not sign it or it was never presented to them), and it is only the battery in contention, the glider holding the battery is exempt. The repossession of the glider would be theft.

5. And here is the important part. When you take the car in for battery service or battery warranty work, if you do not have the BAP, you will pay. Because you did not continue the lease, there is no warranty on the battery.

If the battery has a bad cell, you get to buy a new battery. If you had the BAP, MBFS would flip the bill for the battery replacement.

So, the question is, how much are you willing to risk?

  • Buy the car and pass on BAP, hoping to never need warranty battery repairs?
  • Sign the lease and cough up $80 a month for something that may never be a problem? There is a price for peace of mind.
  • Get creative, and only when you have a battery problem, do you sign a lease, because that route would be cheaper than buying a new battery?
So to summarize this succinctly, if you don't continue the BAP, there is no warranty for the battery. It's that simple.

6.Let's try some suppositions.

A. You buy the car at a used car lot, and the dealer won't sell until you sign the BAP lease. If the dealer did sign the older BAP lease and now wants to transfer that to you, he will easily refuse the deal and wait for another buyer. The last thing he wants is to pay $80 a month for absolutely nothing. Or maybe you are paying $5000 over the dealer's cost plus profit?

B. If the dealer wants you to sign, makes up horror stories, but still allows you to not sign yet take possession of the car, they might be seedy and try to get the money out of you later, or possibly take you to small claims court or put a lien on the vehicle. The latter two are unlikely, but still possible.

C. If the dealer presents you with all of the paperwork to sign as part of the normal process of buying a car, and you see the MBFS BAP Lease agreement in the pile, check all of the other documents and ensure that there is no mention of a lease, sign them, and do not sign the BAP lease. If the dealer makes a stink, expect A or B.

D. If the MBFS BAP Lease agreement is nowhere to be seen, be glad, keep your mouth shut about it. In fact, don't ever mention it at any time during your communications, inspection, test drive, or negotiations. If you change your mind and really want the BAP, MBFS will be happy to send you a lease agreement at a later time.
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That's not what my BAP contract says. It says if I cancel the contract by paying the $5010, the contract ends, including all of MBs responsibilities (i.e. battery warranty). As Steven says, the 4 year warranty would still be there, but not 10.
If what you were told was true, no one would keep paying monthly since that is $5k more expensive over the 10 year term.

Given this obvious error, I'm having trouble trusting the other statements like dealers would not alert MBFS when a non-paying BAP battery shows up...
I don't think there is so much an obvious error as a misunderstanding in the wording. Many people view BAP as an "extended warranty". Obviously if you cancel BAP, the "extended warranty" goes away while the 4 year factory warranty remains.

Do you have any evidence to support your contention that dealers would alert MBFS when a non-paying BAP battery shows up? On the contrary, there is evidence to support what Heima claims MBFS told him. Go to this link
and read where gewitzt said in post 61 that he took his ED with non-BAP battery in for service at the SMART dealership; he also called MBUSA to register the vehicle (giving them the VIN). Nothing was heard from MBFS about BAP; no letter, no repo men; nothing. This agrees perfectly with what Heima claims MBFS told him. Again, if you have direct evidence to support your contention, we would love to hear it; all the evidence I have seen is perfectly in line with what Heima says above.
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What Heima states above agrees with my own similar conversation with MBFS:
As I mention in the above link, there are several good reasons that MBFS would do exactly as Heima says they told him. It's a legal quagmire for MBFS to enforce a BAP contract that a resale owner never signed.

I suggest that anyone who is curious about BAP, its future, its policies, etc., simply give them a call. It's toll-free and they are very friendly (I must have called them a dozen times checking on VIN numbers and spoken to both BAP reps). They know more about BAP than any of us, or any salesman. Rather than take Heima's word for it, just do your due diligence. It'd be helpful if you told us what you heard so we can build a consensus.
One of the problems of getting the word from the horse's mouth, is that the horse might be schizophrenic.

I am relaying what I was told by the MBFS BAP representative. The poor woman was getting frustrated with my implied insistance that MBFS would come after me for not signing, that they would not do warranty repairs for other parts of the car, or that the car was going to be siezed. She re-iterated over and over, if I did not sign up for BAP, there would be no warranty for the battery. There is still a separate warranty for the wheels, suspension, brakes, doors, seats, radio, airbags, steering, ... should I continue? If the battery fails or has a problem, then it is all out of my pocket. And when I say battery, I mean the high voltage battery, not the 12v battery. That might actually be covered in the glider warranty. Prorated, of course.

One thing she was very adamant about was that the car must be brought to a Mercedes Benz Certified Dealer for warranty repairs. That somehow, there are Mercedes Benz Dealers who are not certified. I was scratching my head on that one. After more prodding, "Ceritfied" was a code word for "qualified to service high voltage systems used in electric automobiles". Of course, if the windshield washer motor fails, there isn't any high voltage there. But the following components are part of the high voltage circuit: A/C compressor, PTC heater, charge port, charger, DC/DC converter, inverter, drive motor, battery pack, and evse, but I believe that last one has a different warranty.

Now speaking of the horse, perhaps other MBFS reps call things differently, and have given different answers. So if someone else wants to call up MBFS and speak with a BAP rep, please do. Lets hear what they have to say.

Briefly, I asked these questions:
1. What happens if I take ownership of the car (glider + battery) but do not sign the BAP lease agreement?
2. Who is responsible for the BAP payments if I do not sign the BAP lease agreement?
3. Will MBFS attempt to repossess the car if I do not sign the BAP lease agreement?
4. What happens if I take the car into a MB dealer for warranty repairs not dealing with the battery, such as the air conditioner?
5. How would the dealer know if the car has a signed BAP lease agreement?
6. Would the dealer deny repairs because I did not sign the BAP lease agreement?
7. Would the dealer seize the car because I did not sign the BAP lease agreement?
8. Would the dealer report the car being in for repair to MBFS?
9. Would MBFS instruct the dealer to hold the vehicle?
10. Would MBFS instruct the dealer to remove the battery?
11. How would this all be different, if the problem was with the battery and not the air conditioning?

Do you see how the rep could be irritated by these questions? If you are the rep, and you know that the only thing that will happen is that battery warranty service will be denied (which was the answer to the first question), the subsequent questions seem ridiculous (and border on conspiracy theory wackiness).

If you are going to investigate, feel free to use the same questions, if you wish. However, do not talk to the dealer (MB, MB certified, private, or otherwise) or the consumer hotline. They can only provide second-hand information at best or unsubstantiated rumors or threats at worst. Talk to the ones who own the battery, collect the money for the battery, and consequently, set the policies for the battery. That is MBFS, the BAP division.
You are very thorough. A great set of questions and I appreciate the detailed accounting of your interaction with MBFS. There have been rumors spread about letters from MBFS but no solid evidence; however there has been solid evidence that supports exactly what MBFS told you.

I have my doubts that MBFS would be all that knowledgeable about the 4 year warranty, so some of your questions related to that (like 4 and 11) may get confused answers. If you are worried about warranty, just do as I do and get BAP. However, if you are willing to take some risk, go without it.

I encourage you to jump aboard, buy the ED you have your eye upon, and join our happy family.
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Do we have a single instance of MBFS enforcing a BAP contract on a car bought in the used marketplace from a non-MB dealer that forced it on the next buyer?
There have been several recent cases of the opposite, but no recent cases of a forced enforcement where the buyer was oblivious of BAP. Years ago it seems that may not have been the case, although that too seems more to be rumor or second hand information. It seems as though SMART is trying to get out of the BAP type programs and more into a standard warranty, and are only maintaining BAP where the buyer/owner requires them to do that.
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