UPDATE: There is a clause in the ‘Program Rules’ that could permit Volkswagen to modify the terms of the agreement after the fact. We’ve added statements from Volkswagen, a law firm representing TDI owners and a law professor so you can make an informed choice on whether or not to register for the Goodwill Package.
Owners who signed up for Volkswagen’s “Goodwill Program” to acquire $ 1,000 will nonetheless be in a position to take the automaker to court, according to documents posted by Volkswagen on Monday.
The plan outlines specific actions owners would require to take to receive the positive aspects offered. Such as taking ownership of the 2-liter diesel automobiles ahead of Nov. 9, owners would want to take their vehicles to Volkswagen dealers to have their present cards activated, an action Volkswagen deems needed to curb fraud. Cards will also be printed with the name of the goodwill package recipient.
Volkswagen mentioned it would send one $ 500 black prepaid Visa card that could be utilized anyplace, and one more $ 500 white prepaid card that could be redeemed at Volkswagen dealerships only.
The automaker also provided three years of roadside assistance in addition to the gift cards.
At least 1 dealer group is organizing to use the activation procedure to its advantage, telling personnel that dealer management hopes buyers will spend each prepaid cards at its Volkswagen store.
Volkswagen stated the goodwill plan only covers 2-liter diesel automobiles for now. Its 3-liter diesel vehicles — which the EPA claimed are cheating as effectively — are not covered under the program.
According to a FAQ posted by the automaker, the prepaid cards can only be registered by the owner at a participating dealership. The owner would require to present a license, proof of ownership, the goodwill package and the affected car to activate the cards and roadside help coverage. Volkswagen stated the prepaid cards are not transferrable, but the roadside help would be if the owner sells the car.
Volkswagen will also record the mileage of the vehicle at the dealership.
Volkswagen mentioned owners who have registered for the goodwill program should be getting their cards within 4 weeks. Owners would require to register their gift cards at a dealership prior to April 30, 2016. The cards are great for one particular year.
While the quantity of consumers eligible for the program is likely the vast majority of owners of affected autos, there are some groups who are ineligible for the plan. One particular of these groups is utilised auto dealers.
You are not eligible for the Goodwill Package if:
- You buy or lease an Affected Automobile on or following November 9, 2015 or
- You sold, turned-in or otherwise transferred the Affected Automobile prior to the program initiation (November 9, 2015) or prior to Goodwill Package activation or
- Your Impacted Vehicle is owned by either Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., or VW Credit, Inc. as portion of an employee/retiree lease program or other corporate fleet plan or
- Your Impacted Car was reported sold as a Volkswagen corporate fleet sale or
- You are a new car or utilised vehicle automotive dealership and the Impacted Automobile is in your inventory.
A supply tells us that the initial round of goodwill packages are anticipated to be mailed out November 20.
Nearly 500,000 automobiles are affected by the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Those cars can emit up to 40 times the legal level of NOx.
Whilst the rules themselves do not limit a Goodwill Package recipient’s right to sue, there is a clause under “Additional Plan Rules” that acts as a catch-all for future rule modifications:
Plan Guidelines are void to the extent exactly where prohibited by law. Taxes may apply exactly where essential by law, and are the responsibility of the Goodwill Package recipient. Eligibility, registration, activation and redemption of Goodwill Package are topic to present and future plan rules, which are incorporated by reference and might be modified by VWoA at any time with out notice.
Organizations routinely include catch-all lines in agreements, similar to the one employed by Volkswagen, that gives them permission to revise conditions soon after the truth. Alterations might be required due to a legislative change that impacts the original conditions of an agreement. For instance, men and women living in a specific geographic region may possibly have been exempt from an agreement in the starting, but legislative alterations could enable that group to be integrated, necessitating a adjust in the guidelines.
A law firm that represents Volkswagen diesel owners doesn’t see it that way.
“We believe that both the current language and the ability to alter the guidelines creates a non-trivial threat to shoppers of foregoing future rights,” said Amy Williams-Derry, companion of Keller Rohrback L.L.P., a law firm that at present represents around one hundred Volkswagen diesel owners.
“This indicates the rules of the system a VW TDI diesel consumer agrees to nowadays could be changed by VW tomorrow, with no notice to shoppers, and however shoppers would nevertheless be bound.”
Nevertheless, Volkswagen of America says customers will not be necessary to release the automaker of liability nor give up their proper to sue by taking the Goodwill Package.
“Impacted consumers eligible for the Goodwill Package are not required to waive their rights or release their claims against Volkswagen of America in order to receive the Package,” said a representative for the automaker.
Interpretations of the guidelines posted Monday have flummoxed even skilled law pros.
University of Denver Law Professor Michael Siebecker pointed to the catch-all paragraph and said that it seems to apply to the Goodwill Program only — not future litigation — but that it contained obvious errors.
“It’s in fact very bizarre that they would publish something like this on the web. That is normally one thing that individuals would get fired for — at least the lawyers who were supposed to be reviewing this ought to,” stated Siebecker, who teaches corporate social duty at DU.
[Source: Goodwill Package FAQ, System Rules]