As part of a $15 billion settlement with the federal government, Volkswagen agreed to buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles equipped with emissions-cheating “defeat devices.” While the lure of receiving more than the current value of their vehicle is presumably high for customers who feel duped by VW, federal regulators want to ensure these consumers receive what they’re entitled to through the settlement.
The Federal Trade Commission has written a pair of blog posts today, advising VW dealers against trying to mislead consumers about the buyback program, and alerting affected VW owners to their rights under the settlement.
The first post is addressed to car dealers, especially those who might be thinking about making buyback offers that differ from those detailed at VWcourtsettlement.com.
While the details of the settlement, including the $10.03 billion buyback program, are available at VWCourtSettlement.com, regulators say it appears other companies have been reaching out to owners with alternate offers.
“It’s unwise for anyone – including independently owned VW dealers – to make separate offers,” the FTC warns.
These alternative offers may imply they are part of the $10 billion settlement; inform owners they have to spend compensation under the settlement on a new VW or Audi; or use phrasing, like “Act now!” to lock owners into a separate deal before they have the full picture of what they could gain as part of the actual settlement.
In a separate blog post, the agency explains that owners of affected vehicles may be approached by buyers offering what appears to be a good deal. However, it’s possible this offer may actually be less than what the owner could get under the actual settlement.
“Whether it’s a private purchaser or an unscrupulous dealer, those buyers are just going to turn around and sell the car back to VW for more money through the court-approved buyback program,” the blog warns.”
When it comes to offers of “Act Now!” the FTC reminds consumers that there is no pressure to act quickly. In fact, the buyback program isn’t actually making payments yet. Additionally, funds procured through the program can be spent any way an owner chooses, it does not have to be spent at a VW dealer.
Of course, the FTC says that while the decision on what to do with the vehicles is ultimately up to the owner, they should register with VWCourtSettlement.com before pursuing offers.
As for companies that may be sending owners solicitations, the FTC advises them to make sure their pitches don’t deceptively lead people to think the offer is part of the settlement, and that they are offering owners an accurate view of their options.
If someone makes you an offer for your VW or Audi car, or suggests limits on the buyback program that don’t exist, the FTC asks that you file a report.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.