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VW buybacks to begin under $14.7 billion diesel scandal settlement

6a00e550081576883401b7c8446fe9970b-320wiEarlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission sued Volkswagen for falsely claiming that its diesel cars had low levels of harmful emissions.

A federal judge approved a FTC order Tuesday that requires Volkswagen to provide up to $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars.

Here are some details from the settlement for people who own or lease a 2009 to 2015 VW TDI Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat, or Audi TDI A3:

  • You have until Sept. 1, 2018, to submit a claim. You can change your mind about which option you want until you bring your car in to VW.
  • You can submit a claim on VWCourtSettlement.com, or call 844-98-CLAIM to request a paper claim form. In order to complete your claim, you’ll need documents, including the vehicle title and proof of registration.
  • VW has 10 business days to tell you whether your claim is complete after you submit your claim. If your claim isn’t complete, VW will tell you what you need to do to complete it.
  • VW has 10 business days to review it and confirm that you’re eligible after your claim is complete. Then, you can schedule an appointment. You will be able to choose from different options. If you choose:
    • Buyback, you will be able to schedule an appointment within the next 90 days.
    • Lease termination, you will be able to schedule an appointment within the next 45 days.
    • An approved emissions modification, VW will notify you when a modification is available for your vehicle. Once a modification is available, you will be able to schedule an appointment within 90 days.
  • If your car was drivable on Sept. 16, 2016, but isn’t drivable on the day of your buyback or approved emissions modification appointment, you’re still eligible for some compensation. Visit VWCourtSettlement.com or call VW at 844-98-CLAIM for more information.
  • You can choose to get your payment by check at your appointment, or have it deposited electronically to your bank account within three banking days. If you have a car loan, VW will apply your buyback payment to the loan and pay you any remaining amount. If, at your buyback appointment, your car’s mileage is more than the expected mileage range from when you submitted your claim, your buyback amount could be reduced. If that happens, you’ll get a check within three banking days.
  • When your buyback or approved emissions modification is complete, VW will give you an itemized receipt that shows the amount you received and explains any adjustment, such as mileage or a loan payment.

You can use the buyback money however you want. You don’t have to spend it on a car from VW or any other manufacturer.

If anyone offers to buy your car outside the settlement, or pressures you to “Act now!”, walk away, said Bridget Small, consumer education specialist for the FTC. If you see something that doesn’t seem to follow the terms of the settlement, you can report it to the FTC.

The U.S. PIRG’s Education Fund said the inclusion of up to $10 billion for buybacks at pre-scandal trade in value and additional monetary compensation is a big win for consumers. It had originally called for buybacks at full purchase price, said Mike Litt, program advocate the organization.

The inclusion of monetary compensation for lessees who choose to terminate their lease without penalty and for owners who choose an emissions fix if and when regulators approve one also is positive, Litt said.

The settlement also requires VW to provide $2.7 billion in environmental mitigation funds for states to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution and requires VW to invest an additional $2 billion in infrastructure for Zero Emission Vehicles.

Volkswagen polluted the air with false claims of “clean diesel” technology.

In September 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen, alleging that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards. California separately issued a regulatory letter to Volkswagen.

The cars are equipped with a “defeat device,” software that switches to cleaner emissions when the vehicles are hooked up to official emission testing equipment.

Civil penalties and criminal charges weren’t covered by this settlement.

Copyright 2016, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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