Volkswagen executives recently announced that they will extend amnesty for any workers coming forward with information on the “cheat device” software that was discovered in 11 million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles sold in Europe and the U.S. So far, Volkswagen has set aside $7.72 billion (USD) in order to handle vehicle recalls – but with impending fines and civil judgments as well as the cost of repairs, the final figure could reach more than $34 billion (USD). Diesel car owners have seen the resale value of their vehicles drop significantly. Despite an internal investigation, Volkswagon executives claim to have no clear idea of how the deception was created, nor the identity of the individuals who were ultimately responsible.
The software installed in the cars involved in the scandal turns on pollution controls during emission tests, but turns them off when the car is driven on the road. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that cars with the 2-liter 4-cylinder diesel engines emitted 10 to 40 times the allowable amount while being driven. Volkswagen has been unable to develop a fix that will both maintain high performance and also meet the emission requirement and thereby restore the value of the car purchased by unsuspecting buyers.
Volkswagen is now offering diesel-powered car owners $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers in an obvious effort to regain their customers’ trust. Volkswagen claims that acceptance of the offer will not prohibit the car owners from taking part in any class-action or individual suit against the company, or exclude them from any future compensation. However, as you might expect, things are not always as they appear.
If you have received such an offer, it is recommend that you postpone use of the cards until Volkswagen's legal counsel confirms that doing so will not jeopardize owners’ existing and future claims against the automaker. Specifically, it needs to be confirmed that Volkswagen won’t try to invoke a buried arbitration clause that is in the terms and conditions of the Visa debit card.