It was heralded last December as a landmark deal: Volkswagen would pay Canadian Volkswagen diesel customers up to $2.1 billion as compensation after the company admitted it used software to influence emissions tests and get regulatory approval for its 2.0 litre engines.
But in courtroom 4-9 at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto Friday, as many as two dozen Canadian VW customers turned out to express dissatisfaction with the proposed settlement.
“I didn’t feel the compensation is enough,” said Andrea Manuel, one of the 105,000 Canadian customers who owns a Volkswagen or Audi vehicle with the discredited diesel engine.
Manuel told Justice Edward Belobaba, the judge who will decide whether to approve the deal, that under the proposal she won’t receive enough money from the Volkswagen buy-back to pay off her bank loan.
Other owners say the deal is insufficient, because it doesn’t recognize the additional costs of products like extended warranties.
“I bought extended warranties because I intended to keep the car,” said Erich Bretholz, who spent $6,000 on two extended warranties for a pair of vehicles he bought.
He said while American owners can get the value of the warranties back, for an administrative fee of $50, Canadian customers like him won’t get anything.
John Archer of Toronto bought his VW diesel in Houston, Texas. Not to save money, he says, but because there was more choice of vehicles there.
“I bought it in the States because all they had in Canada was a black interior and I could get my choice of four different interiors in the U.S.,” said Archer, who says he doesn’t qualify for any compensation in the settlement proposal.
“I will not get any compensation in the United States because I don’t have a U.S. address,” he said.
He isn’t entitled to anything under the Canadian plan either, he says.
Justice Belobaba expressed concern to lawyers representing class claimants and Volkswagen that the proposed deal is not necessarily as it should be.
“I cannot approve the settlement the way it exists,” said Justice Belobaba, adding “I’m not saying the deal won’t be” accepted later.
Belobaba instructed lawyers to present information to the court about the U.S. settlement terms. He also wanted to know how much a Volkswagen customer might expect to receive in compensation under terms of the Ontario Consumer Protection Act, legislation he praised.
“My job again is to find out if it (the offer) is in the best interest for the class,” said Belobaba.
Belobaba has convened another hearing for Friday, April 7.
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