TTAC Reader Unimpressed With Tone Deaf Volkswagen Mailout

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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2 of 60 comments
  • Southerner Southerner on May 29, 2016

    If I owned one of these scandalous cars what would be my incentive to get rid of it? Each copy on the road flips and flaps the giant bird to and at EPA, no? I call that a win. And I want to buy one to do just that. The revenuers would have to pry it from my cold, dead hands to "fix" it.

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Jun 01, 2016

    You aren't going to an answer about the TDi solution for a while. So don't hold your breath. VW has until late June to submit a proposed solution. If they managed to do that, then I think in the best circumstances, a final resolution will be agreed to in August and deployed starting in Sept. But I think in reality this is going to drag out for a very long time. I own a TDi and I don't expect to get an answer until 2017 at the earliest. My wife has been bugging me about what I am going to do. My 2012 Passat has over 100k on the clock, so I reckon that if VW is ordered to buy it back, then worst case they will look at my miles and give me scrap value, perhaps $5. I am betting that it doesn't come to that. She told me that if that is how it pans out then we will sue them. I told her that our Passat has been, and continues to be, a great car for us. So until they force me to give it up, I will hold on to it. In other words, my strategy is to ride this one all the way in to the ground and deal with the fall out after I find out what that is.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.