Many Canadian Volkswagen owners say they are being frustrated instead of compensated almost two months after a court-approved class action settlement with the German automaker.
The Volkswagen customers who own vehicles equipped with the 2.0 litre diesel engine are the subject of the $2.1-billion settlement approved by Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba in April.
“Once you file it and once they’ve accepted your documents, it’s like a black hole there,” said Richard Forkun, who lives in Uxbridge, Ont.
Forkun decided to park his 2014 Jetta and use public transit to get to work, concerned that he will lose his buy-back option from Volkswagen if he is in a collision.
Like others, Forkun filed documents with the company on April 28, the first day it was possible.
“The most frustrating part is the lack of information on when I can expect the offer and appointment. This was OK for customer service in the 1970s, but is not acceptable in 2017,” Forkun told Global News.
Consumers have been writing to Global News for weeks complaining about long delays to have their claims processed. Many said they are getting contradictory information from London, Ont.-based Ricepoint, the company in charge of administering the claims.
“It was a complete kerfuffle,” said Vernon, B.C. resident Sascha Heist, who said there have been inconsistencies in information, long delays and all-around poor customer service.
“I was willing to consider buying another Volkswagen, giving them the benefit of the doubt, because they settled,” he said, adding he’s not likely to do so now given the difficulties in getting reimbursed.
“They’re not offering a huge amount of incentive to come back,” said Mark Nattress of Mississauga, Ont.
“They’ve really turned their back,” said Nattress, an active member on a Facebook page for Volkswagen owners sharing information about the difficulties in getting compensation. The page is called Canadian VW TDI Owners. The page currently has almost 13,000 members.
Volkswagen Canada told Global News it’s working as quickly as possible to process claims.
“Processing times for claims depend on a number of factors, including the completeness of a customer’s documents, the benefits option selected, as well as the volume of claims being processed by the claims administrator at a given time,” Volkswagen spokesperson Thomas Tetzlaff wrote in an email to Global News.
“Volkswagen Canada strives to provide 2.0L TDI customers with a positive claims experience. In the first six weeks of the 20-month settlement program, more than 70,000 claimants – representing over 65 per cent of eligible vehicles – have registered claims, and appointments have been underway to execute settlement transactions at dealerships across the country,” he wrote.
Those statistics don’t impress many owners, who said the process is agonizingly slow.
“When you called in the first few weeks, you could be on hold two or three hours,” said Nattress, who owns a 2012 VW Golf TDI.
“You do feel like [Volkswagen has] handed it off to Ricepoint and they don’t want to get involved in any way,” he said.
Joanna Maron, who owns a 2013 Golf TDI, said she won’t buy another Volkswagen based on the problems she said she encountered trying to return her car to the company.
“It’s very frustrating,” Maron said. “I would love them to send a representative to my house, give me a cheque and I’ll give them the key.”
With files from Stephanie Gordon