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FTC Says Some VW Dealers Are Misleading Diesel Owners About Buyback Deal

August 11, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Some dealers and private parties are offering to purchase defeat device-equipped Volkswagen vehicles from consumers in an attempt to profit from the OEM's pending $10.3 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the regulator warned this week.

The FTC is now advising consumers to check VWCourtSettlement.com to see if their vehicle will be part of the settlement. The regulator also issued a warning to dealers attempting to deceive victims of the automaker's emissions scandal.

“It’s unwise for anyone — including independently-owned VW dealers — to make separate offers that falsely imply that the offer is part of the pending $10 billion settlement, falsely tell owners they have to spend compensation under the settlement on a new VW or Audi or use “Act now!” tactics that lock owners into a separate deal before owners have the full picture of what they stand to gain as part of the $10 billion settlement,” read a blog post written by Lesley Fair, senior attorney at the FTC.

According to the FTC, the money that will distributed as part of the settlement will not have any stipulations tied to it, such as requiring that owners spend the settlement proceeds at a Volkswagen dealership.

The FTC believes some dealers are attempting to purchase affected vehicles from consumers before claims are paid because the amount Volkswagen will be handing out to owners will be worth more than the replacement values of those vehicles. By sending out buyback offers to consumers that are at or below the affected vehicle’s current replacement value, these dealers and private parties can then sell the vehicles back to the manufacturer for a profit once the settlement process begins.

Preliminary approval on Volkswagen's $14.7 billion settlement was given on July 26. Final approval is set for Oct. 18. Buybacks and lease terminations are expected to begin soon after that date.

As part of two related settlements, one with the FTC and the other with the United States and the State of California, Volkswagen will spend up to $10.03 billion to compensate consumers affected by its emissions cheating scandal. The manufacturer will also spend $4.7 billion to invest in green vehicle technology in order to mitigate the environmental harm its emissions-cheating vehicles caused.

According to the FTC, the scandal affected nearly 500,000 2.0 liter diesel vehicles (model years 2009-2015) sold in the United States. As part of the settlement, Volkswagen will buyback purchased vehicles or terminate leases early at no cost to the consumer.

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