Should VW owners accept goodwill money offer?

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Volkswagen will be offering a total of $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers to owner of vehicles that are involved in an emissions cheating scandal.

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Goodwill money not as transparent as it seems

The offer, announced Monday, goes to owners of 482,000 cars in the United States. Many of those owners are angry at the company because they paid extra for the cars to be environmentally-sensitive without losing peppy acceleration, according to the AP.

‘This is very smart as a first phase of damage control, the Volkswagen customers are furious,’ says consumer expert Clark Howard.

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The offer includes a $500 debit card, good for any purchase, and a $500 voucher good for service or merchandise at the dealers. The company is also offering three years of roadside assistance to some owners. VW said that Audi will launch the same program on Friday.

Howard says VW still needs to find out how many vehicles are involved. He adds that when it comes to repairing the damage to the Volkswagen brand, ‘they have a long, long, long way to go.’

But here’s the rub about this goodwill money:

The Los Angeles Times did some digging and discovered that clause 11 of the Goodwill Package Cardholder Agreements may prohibit you from suing the company down the road.

As one lawyer quoted by the Times says: “It is a complete end run around the litigation that is in place,” according to Amy Williams-Derry, an attorney with law firm Keller Rohrback, which is involved in litigation against the car company. “They are trying to buy off plaintiffs who have already sued and consumers who would benefit from a class-action recovery.” In addition to the shady legal ground, the clause specifies that any arbitration must take place in Sioux Falls S.D., which is likely inconvenient for the vast majority of VW owners to reach.

So Clark is advising owners do not accept the goodwill offer until clause 11 is either modified or removed!

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