7 On Your Side helps VW owners navigate 'Dieselgate' emissions recall

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Monday, March 27, 2017
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Nina Pineda has the latest

NEW YORK (WABC) -- After being caught cheating on emissions from its diesel cars, Volkswagen began an expensive settlement plan to compensate car owners and address environmental harm.

500,000 VW and Audi cars sold in the United States since 2008 are part of what became known as "Dieselgate," but some consumers complain the buyback program is stuck in neutral.

This was a huge and unprecedented scandal, estimated to cost VW $14.7 million to settle.

Consumers thought it was pretty cut and dry, bring your car in, get a buy back, car loan cancelled.

But it wasn't, months later, they say they're being billed for vehicles they no longer own.

Two owners put the pedal to the medal and got 7 On Your Side on the case.

"I don't understand how's there's miscommunication, this is the seventh phone call," said Christina Mase, car owner.

Frustrated is an understatement for Mase who says she's been stuck in customer service black hole created by VW.

"I was told three days, three days now it's almost 30," Mase said.

The art teacher's 2010 VW Jetta was part of the dirty diesel buyback settlement, when VW admitted nearly half-million vehicles were rigged by to pass emissions tests while really spewing out excessive pollutants.

"You're putting your trust into a car company that promises you they'll take care of it. I wasn't happy, but you're going along with it," Mase said.

Mase turned the car in February 3rd, and says she was told her loan would be paid off within three-to-five business days.

"I'm out a car, a loan and a refund, good times when you have three kids," Mase said.

She's owed $7,356.82 on her pay off.

In West Islip, Scott Gerber owed even more for the VW Golf he turned in after Christmas: $12,259.77.

Both customers tell 7 On Your Side they kept getting told their cases are being escalated, then this shocker, bills, their car payments, were overdue!

They were actually getting notices of late payments.

"So you had to make your payment because you were going to get into bad credit here?" 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda said.

"Exactly, I would've been a late payer or no payer, I would've been in default," Gerber said.

Both Mase and Gerber say they told they could not speak to a supervisor.

"Now I'm getting the runaround, just the runaround," Mase said.

"Nina, this has been a complete nightmare," Gerber said.

So, 7 On Your Side contacted VW customer relations to find out about the delay. Instead of perpetual hold, 7 On Your Side got real action.

"They gave me a FedEx tracking number, and all I can say is thank you Nina and thank you 7 On Your Side!" Gerber said.

Gerber's loan for $12,259 dollars was paid off and Mase finally got her $7,356.82!

"I would say thank you so much, I want to give you a big hug!" Mase said.

The Big Takeaway:

-Deadline for consumers is September 1, 2018

-choose buy back or repair

-VW must complete by June 2019

A VW representative say it knows that there have been some issues along the way with the roll out of the buyback program, but is assured teams have been working tirelessly to make necessary adjustments and continually improve the process. The company released a statement saying:

"Overall, we are encouraged by the customer response to the 2.0L TDI settlement program and the exceptional participation rate so far. We're not even four months into a two-year program and already we've extended offers to more than half of all affected current and former drivers and modified or removed from the road more than 25 percent of the 475,000 affected 2.0L TDI vehicles. This program is unprecedented in terms of its size and scope and we have hired approximately 1,300 contract employees to help accommodate demand. We know that there have been some issues along the way and our teams have been working tirelessly to make necessary adjustments and continually improve the process. We will review the information provided and reach out to the customer directly."

-Jeannine Ginivan

Sr. Manager, Corporate and Internal Communications

For more information on the recall please visit: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/guide-to-the-volkswagen-dieselgate-emissions-recall-