December 8, 2015 — Just in time for the holiday season, Volkswagen of America has offered $1,000 gift cards to nearly 500,000 drivers of diesel vehicles with illegal software designed to cheat emissions.
Acceptance of the gift card includes an arbitration clause in the “fine print,” which some lawyers feared could extend to the impending litigation over the emissions software, according to Forbes.
Volkswagen insists there are no strings attached and called the offer a “goodwill package.” The auto-maker says the arbitration clause is part of the bank terms for the gift card — not intended to fool owners into waiving their legal rights, according to Los Angeles Times.
Michael Horn, Volkswagen Group of America’s president and chief executive officer, told Bloomberg Business:
“We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicle. In the meantime, we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers’ trust.”
Volkswagen has set up a website (www.vwdieselinfo.com) where customers can verify eligibility and register for the goodwill package. It should arrive in the mail within four weeks and customers can visit a dealership to get their gift cards.
Volkswagen marketed the cars as “environmentally friendly” and charged up to a $7,000 premium for the diesel cars compared to similar gas models. Since September, the average resale value of the cars has dropped $2,100 (16.1%), according to Kelley Blue Book price information.