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Volkswagen Offers Cash, Vouchers To Defrauded Diesel Owners


Volkswagen is calling it a goodwill package. The carmaker announced it today, and it's for owners of cars with a VW two-liter diesel engine. These are the engines that were the focus of the emissions cheating scandal. A majority of the diesel cars in the U.S. have these engine. NPR's John Ydstie reports that Volkswagen is offering each car owner a thousand dollars in cash and vouchers.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: VW is giving owners who sign up for the program a $500 visa debit card that they can spend on anything. They also get a voucher card worth $500 for use at VW dealerships to pay for oil changes and other services or merchandise. In addition, the package includes three years of free 24-hour roadside assistance. VW says the program is a first step towards regaining its customers' trust. Brian Skow of Scottsdale, Ariz., owns a 2014 Jetta SportWagen. He thinks the program is a waste of money.

BRIAN SKOW: I believe they would be better off putting that money toward the fix for having a real solution rather than just throwing some money at customers at this point.

YDSTIE: Skow says if he does sign up for the program, he'll use the money for repairs and maintenance on his car. Jane O'Neill, another Jetta SportWagen owner from Dubuque, Iowa, also thinks the VW effort is misguided.

O'NEILL: I guess if Volkswagen wants to give me a thousand dollars, I wouldn't say no, but if they didn't give me a thousand dollars, I wouldn't care.

YDSTIE: O'Neill says she's driven VWs for 32 of the past 38 years and is not planning to walk away from the brand despite the scandal. She says all she really wants is for VW to bear all the costs of fixing the car and making sure she gets a fair price when she trades it in.

O'NEILL: It's Volkswagen's problem. They created. I want them to bear the cost. And if I don't get any other money from them, that's fine.

YDSTIE: Volkswagen faces a number of class-action law suits stemming from the emissions scandal. One of the law firms pursuing Volkswagen said today there's a risk that VW owners could be signing away their right to sue the company by joining the program. Volkswagen denied that charge and said in a statement, quote, "affected customers eligible for the goodwill package are not required to waive their rights or release their claims against Volkswagen Group of America in order to receive the package." Volkswagen says a similar deal will be offered to Audi customers affected by the emissions scandal this Friday. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve at NPR for nearly three decades. Over the years, NPR has also employed Ydstie's reporting skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was a lead reporter in NPR's coverage of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession, as well as the network's coverage of President Trump's economic policies. Ydstie has also been a guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Ydstie stepped back from full-time reporting in late 2018, but plans to continue to contribute to NPR through part-time assignments and work on special projects.