FTC warns VW dealers not to mislead owners about buybacks

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2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test

Volkswagen diesel owners are still waiting for final approval of the proposed settlement that will allow VW to buy back their cars.

But on Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission took the unusual step of warning VW dealers not to mislead owners about the buyback terms.

It also issued an informational post for owners themselves, alerting them to their rights under the proposed deal.

The post to owners is titled VW owners, get the facts!

 

Consumer Reports tests 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI diesel in 'cheat mode,' October 2015 [video frame]

Consumer Reports tests 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI diesel in 'cheat mode,' October 2015 [video frame]

It points out that owners could be approached by third parties offering to take the cars off their hands more quickly than the pace of the court process and buyback offers will allow.

It warns that the prices these buyers offer could be much lower than what an owner is entitled to receive under the various parts of the settlement—and that owners retain the right to keep their TDI diesel cars, have them modified, and still receive a cash payment.

But it's the post aimed at dealers, entitled Dealers: VW owners deserve the straight story (via Consumers Union) that's more interesting in some ways.

Scores of online outlets have published information aimed at the more than 450,000 owners of 2009-2015 VW and Audi TDI diesel vehicles, outlining their rights and linking to the official buyback estimator.

Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencap

Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencap

For a Federal agency specifically to target Volkswagen dealerships is unusual, though, and it suggests that confused owners of these cars may be susceptible to pitches not only from independent operators but even from franchised VW dealers.

The FTC writes:

It’s unwise for anyone – including independently-owned VW dealers – to make separate offers that: 1) falsely imply that the offer is part of the pending $10 billion settlement; 2) falsely tell owners they have to spend compensation under the settlement on a new VW or Audi; or 3) use “Act now!” tactics to 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.

And the commission advises VW owners to get full, accurate information on the settlement and buyback terms from the official site, VWCourtSettlement.com.

Dealers: you have been warned.

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