TTAC Reader Unimpressed With Tone Deaf Volkswagen Mailout
Pity poor Volkswagen. It’s constantly accused of doing the wrong thing in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal.
But guess what? There’s reason for it, and here’s yet another example.
TTAC reader Rudy Lukez has waited months to find out what Volkswagen plans to do with his 2014 Jetta Sportwagen TDI. So, when a package from the company showed up in his Highlands Ranch, Colorado mailbox this morning, the repeat Volkswagen owner figured his questions were about to be answered.
The contents of the package didn’t do the company any favors, and it sure didn’t help Lukez. In his words:
The package, clearly marked from (Volkswagen of America), had a big bold announcement on the outside: “Inside, your next journey awaits”. As I walked home from our neighborhood mailboxes, I thought – “Wow, VW is finally going to give me some information about our diesel.” I could hardly wait to open the package.
What a surprise when I opened the package. Inside was a beautiful full color booklet on VW cars and I thought maybe I would find some sort of offer or enticement to get me ready for the buyback.
Then I found the letter. The letter was a marketing piece from VW thanking me for owning my car (it was very specific) and encouraging me to hop down to my local VW dealer to buy another VW.
Volkswagen somehow figured that after breaking customer trust with a deception-laced scandal and putting the fate of 480,000 vehicles in limbo for months, asking repeat buyers to buy another vehicle was a killer idea. A sure-fire, bona fide hit of a marketing ploy.
Lukez, who’s now on his fifth (and probably last) Volkswagen, wasn’t impressed.
“I just wish they would have given me an update on our diesel,” he wrote.
“It will be hard for me to even consider a VW after the lack of communication since the goodwill package last year. I would think VW would at least scrub their mailing list to remove diesel owners. Opening the package and finding a beautiful wrapper that says ‘Imagine your next Volkswagen’ is cruel.”
Volkswagen’s tone deaf response to anxious consumers is one reason why its reputation is more tarnished than cutlery on the Titanic. Last week, TTAC interviewed a corporate reputation expert who regularly tracks consumer sentiment. He gave Volkswagen a failing grade on its scandal management, and his data shows no sign of renewed trust in the automaker.
The letter to Lukez, which didn’t even contain a special offer (not that deals can solve Volkswagen’s woes), is more proof of the disconnect between the company’s concerns and that of its customers.
In a follow-up exchange, Lukez had more to say:
The whole experience was strange and reflects poorly on VW’s marketing team. The lack of communication and progress reports has been unfortunate. I believe when this is all done, whenever that happens, it will be studied in business schools for decades as a case study of what not to do in a major crisis involving multinationals … Somehow VW’s mailing almost seemed reckless and uncaring.
The multi-billlion-dollar settlement for Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter TDI models (which includes a buyback program, owner compensation, the possibility for a fix, and environmental remediation) won’t be finalized until at least mid-summer.
Until then, all owners can do is wait, and maybe read the glossy brochures Volkswagen sends.
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