By on February 13, 2017


U.S. owners of illegally polluting Volkswagen diesels have already flown to sunny vacation spots or picked up a new vehicle with the help of buyback and compensation checks. North of the border, over 100,000 Canadians who own a 2009-2016 TDI model are waiting for their cut of a $2.1 billion settlement.

However, Volkswagen’s “we’re sorry” gravy train isn’t rolling into everyone’s driveway. Some owners are finding that their vehicles are stuck in a cross-border limbo.

Consider the plight of a Toronto-area woman who picked up a used fifth-generation Jetta in July of 2015. Just two months after getting into her new ride, Jacqueline Charlesworth — like so many others — discovered that her vehicle was a rolling pariah. And, like so many others, Charlesworth hoped to drop the model in exchange for cash.

Unfortunately, taking part in VW’s self-shakedown proved difficult. Seventeen months after the scandal went public, Charlesworth still owns the car, with no guarantee of a payment. The problem lies in the vehicle’s American VIN, and the fact that it’s now registered in Canada.

“I’m really stuck in between two worlds,” the owner told CBC.

Charlesworth found she wasn’t able to take part in the Canadian settlement, as her car hails from the U.S. No problem, as Volkswagen offered her $13,425  from the American settlement pot. Confident in knowing that her car would soon be gone and her compensation money would soon be in the bank, she bought a replacement vehicle.

That’s when her plans went south.

Two weeks ago, Volkswagen sent a letter explaining that it couldn’t offer her the money, as her car was registered in Canada before the September 2015 cut-off date. That’s a big problem, as Charlesworth planned to use the money to support her family. Since receiving the letter, she has attempted to sell the car online, only to find that no one wants to buy a “scandal car.”

Meanwhile, she hasn’t heard anything more from the company, nor has she heard back from lawyers contacted in an attempt to recoup the cost of her Jetta. Volkswagen Canada hasn’t replied to CBC‘s requests to find out if the automaker plans to bring marooned owners like Charlesworth into the Canuck settlement.

The number of owners trapped in the cross-border loophole is small, but their headache isn’t a minor one. According to David O’Connor, partner at Roy O’Connor LLP, one of many firms working on a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen, 15 to 20 clients have contacted law offices in Canada for this exact problem.

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

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10 Comments on “No (Four) Pot of Gold: Some Volkswagen Diesel Owners are Stuck Between Borders...”

  • avatar

    I wonder if she can sell it to an American that can “flip” it back to VAG?

    • 0 avatar

      The following entities and individuals are excluded from the class:

      Owners who acquired ownership of their Volkswagen or Audi 2.0-liter TDI vehicles after September 18, 2015

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        From what I understand, it’s a different story. Everyone who currently holds one of the TDI vehicles is eligible. Owners who purchased their cars before September 18, 2015 get the full buyback, plus the full restitution.

        Then there was a limbo period, from September 16, 2015 and (I believe) June 28, 2016, when the final settlement was announced. If you purchased your car between these dates, you got the full buyback price and half of the restitution figure. The other half was to go to the previous owner…since VW wouldn’t have sold any new TDI cars after that; therefore all of the TDIs acquired after that date were pre-owned. This is also because it gave the people who sold their cars between these dates an opportunity to recoup some of their losses, because they sold their cars after the scandal, but before they knew they were eligible for money from VW, and for how much. These previous owners had 45 days after June 28, 2016 to claim the other half of the restitution. After September 16, 2016, they were no longer eligible.

        Anyone who acquired or acquires one of these vehicles after June 28, 2016 can sell it for the full price and get the full restitution sum. Even if you acquire one now on the cheap, you can sell it and get the same money as people like me, who bought our TDIs before the scandal was ever revealed. In fact, people are snapping up these cars and selling them back to VW for a substantial profit.

  • avatar

    Does that mean she can just keep it? If I weren’t forced to return mine, and it could continue to be registered I would probably just keep it…

    • 0 avatar

      No one was forced to sell back their car and in the agreement with the US every state that gets VW cash has agreed to leave these cars on the road and you can keep driving them no problem with the state DMV. You can also refuse the VW fix if you want to but then you do not get any cash at all but again that is up to you, I turned in my TDI for other reasons.

  • avatar

    1. She can keep it.

    2. If she can find an American to buy it, they can flip it to VW for the settlement offer. But she will have to sell it for well less than VW is offering for it.

    3. If she has the stomach for it, she can file a suit independent of the two class action suits (aka, opting out of the settlement class) and probably get more money back than she would by taking either settlement.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s just it, though…I think the fact that it was registered in Canada prior to the scandal’s reveal takes it out of the running for the American settlement, and it doesn’t qualify for the Canadian settlement because it has an American VIN and was originally sold in the ‘States.

      Basically, VW has determined that every vehicle that was registered (or purchased, but pending registration) on the day of September 18, 2015 is eligible for the settlement. Apparently, that means “registered in the United States”. Since hers was not, it’s not part of the class-action settlement, and wouldn’t be even if someone else (like an American) purchased it and sold it.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand:

    “Two weeks ago, Volkswagen sent a letter explaining that it couldn’t offer her the money, as her car was registered in Canada before the September 2015 cut-off date. That’s a big problem, as Charlesworth planned to use the money to support her family.”

    So, she bought a car. Somehow she must have thought she hit a lottery?

    In 2015, she bought the car. Other than her inability to sell it, how is it that her situation now is different than if it were not a TDI? Would she have otherwise sold it because she found herself unexpectedly needing cash?

    Details, details.

    • 0 avatar

      It sounds like she used all her money to buy a replacement car. Not sure why she was in such a rush to have a second vehicle if money was tight.

      I suppose she could sell the replacement car for funds and drive the TDI until this is sorted.

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