/ Money, Motoring

Update: Do you think Volkswagen should compensate car owners?

Car model

We’ve surveyed more than 2,000 VW diesel owners – nine in ten think people affected by the scandal should be compensated. And yet, Volkswagen has so far failed to announce redress.

What’s most important to you when you buy a car? Well, when we asked VW owners, 96% said fuel efficiency and 90% the environmental impact. These are both areas that have been undermined by the scandal involving ‘defeat devices’ that were fitted to diesels.

The scandal has had such a big effect on VW car owners, that over half would now be put off buying a VW diesel car in the future.

Diane felt she bought her VW under false pretenses:

‘What they said at purchase point influenced my decision to purchase, and had I had the full facts, I never would have done so. Categorically not. I want it recalled and offered an alternative car.’

Letters from Volkswagen

I know lots of you have received letters from VW now, which point you to a website where you see updates. The fact that the company is contacting affected owners is great, but the letters are short on detail. There’s also still no mention of redress.

When quizzed by the Government’s transport committee on Monday, VW’s UK boss Paul Willis refused to confirm whether they’d compensate customers, saying it was ‘too premature to talk about loss of value’. He also said that a recall might not happen until the new year, despite more than a million UK cars being affected.

Anne told us she’s really worried about the re-sale value of her two cars:

‘This is the first time we have ever been able to afford new cars and sadly both of our new cars are affected. I’m really worried about the re-sale value now and feel we’ll need to hang onto these cars forever so that we don’t lose out too much. The environmental impact concerns me greatly too.’

VW must address redress

Today we’re again urging VW to set out a clear timetable for redress, and calling on the Government to closely monitor the car maker’s next steps to ensure recalls and redress happen quickly and easily. We also want assurances from the Government that it will prevent anything like this happening again

Do you think VW needs to address redress? Will you think again before buying a Volkswagen, Audi, Seat or Skoda car?

[UPDATE 19 OCTOBER 2015] – According to our second survey, the effect of the VW scandal has spread beyond just those affected to owners of other cars.

In our survey of more than 1,000 UK car owners, eight in ten people expect more car makers to be drawn into the emissions scandal. Only one in five said they think the Government has a clear action plan in place, and more than three quarters agreed that the Government should ensure new fuel tests are brought in as soon as possible.

We’re calling on the Government to quickly start an independent investigation into the scandal, and to work with the European Commission to bring in new tests you can trust.

[Update 14 January 2016] – VW’s UK boss, Paul Willis, has told MPs that VW will conduct repair work on vehicles rather than making payments to British drivers.

And yet, payouts are being offered in the US. In November 2015, around 482,000 US motorists were offered a compensation package equivalent to £693. Then earlier this week an announcement was made to extend compensation to cover tens of thousands of US owners of larger diesel vehicles.

Paul Willis said that the US is a ‘very different situation’ due to regulations which leaves it unclear as to whether the vehicles can be fixed. We don’t think that’s fair.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘This is just not good enough for VW customers, when nine out of ten told us they thought those impacted by the scandal should receive compensation.

‘British consumers deserve to be treated fairly. We urge Volkswagen to reconsider its position, and we want assurances from the Government that it will introduce measures to prevent a scandal like this happening again.’

[Update 22 April 2016] – Volkswagen has announced that it will pay ‘substantial compensation’ to US car owners affected by the diesel emissions scandal. The news came in a California court, where the judge said that the settlement is expected to include an offer to buy back affected cars. The car maker and regulators have until late June to agree all the final details of the pay out.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd commented on the announcement:

‘Volkswagen’s customers in the UK will be angry about this news. People will not understand why a deal is being offered to US consumers when there is nothing on the table for the 1.2million owners affected in the UK.

‘Volkswagen needs to act now and set out what they will do for their UK customers.’

[Update 28 June 2016]– Volkswagen will pay out £11bn to settle the diesel emissions scandal in the US. The terms of the settlement were revealed today in the US District Court in San Francisco. It’s been agreed that VW will pay over £7.5bn to either purchase the cheating vehicles or pay for repairs, and owners of around 10,000 VWs will receive £7,500 in compensation. A further £2bn will be paid to the US government for environmental mitigation. The company will also pay £1.5bn for research into zero-emissions vehicles.

Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Alex Neill, commented on the announcement:

‘Volkswagen customers in the UK will rightly question why a deal is being offered to US consumers when there is nothing on the table for the 1.2 million owners affected in this country.

‘VW must not be let off the hook, the Government should intervene and stand up for UK consumers.’

If you think UK VW owners should also receive compensation, join almost 80,000 others by signing our petition.

P Harvey says:
22 September 2016

Re the emissions saga, first I would like to see some independent research from Which? as to whether the VW ‘fix’ works and can be recommended. I have received several letters from VW asking me to take my car in for a ‘free’ fix – but can I be assured that it does work – without adversely affecting other parameters like fuel consumption. Come on Which?, get on with it. I cannot be the only Which? member with a VW car being chased by VW. To a certain extent, the issue of compensation would be influenced by whether the fix works.


Most of these tests have been , and are being done, by KBA (the German Type Approval Authority) with some by VCA (the UK’s Type Approval Authority). VCA will not themselves receive details of KBA tests, only notification of approved technical solutions. We in the UK should be given results of the tests that affect the motorist – notably mpg – to see whether owners have suffered “detriment”. I hope Which? is requesting this information. No point in repeating expensive tests.

Terry. Blaber says:
23 September 2016

VW claim to have sent customers three letters re. the problem, but I have only received two at the present time.

Peter Doyle says:
4 October 2016

We also have had two letters – one in Dec 2015 and one in April 2016 – still heard nothing regarding when it will be fixed and cannot get any indication from the website or phoning VW or the local main dealer. We are very unhappy with the way VW is handling this.

Andy Du Port says:
21 October 2016

I bought my 10-Reg diesel Golf when it was about six months old. If I had been buying new, I might have been influenced by the emissions scandal, but no-one knew about it then. My Golf was a great car before the scandal came to light, and it is still a great car! It regularly returns 60+mpg and is impressively reliable. In addition to several letters from VW UK, my local dealer has kept me in the picture re a ‘fix’. At the moment I have no wish to be compensated because I have not suffered any stress or financial loss. However, if the fix significantly reduces the performance or fuel consumption, I think VW should offer some compensation.


I think it is important that knowingly deceiving the public is not treated as a major crime.

To do so would be an inhibitor on the ability of companies to gain market share at the expense of more cautious competitors.

I too have suffered no harm directly so far so lets give VW a break. If they lied to protect themselves it has not hurt me personally so so what.

The VW shareholders will have been stuffed but that is their problem, and of course those “greens” being mislead about buying low emission vehicles don’t need my support.

David says:
4 March 2017

The value of your car has reduced because of the saga.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited as it breached our Community Guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]


Patrick sorry but-knowingly deceiving the public ? – i cant get my head around that , if anybody deceives me I never ever trust them again –period . I would rather somebody tell me they hate me and would have respect for that view than a propagandist/ public psychology / advertising group lie to me I never accept lies .