Volkswagen TDI Owners Are Getting Revenge — Maybe


If you own a Volkswagen TDI, you have reason to be upset with the manufacturer. You own a car that plummeted in value after news of the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal broke in September, 2015. In some states, you may not be able to even renew your car’s registration if it won’t pass an emissions check. You still have to pay your car loan, though, and if you live in a state that levies personal property taxes, it is unlikely the local tax authorities are sensitive to your plight.

Volkswagen TDI buyback

In line with the terms of a legal settlement reached by the company with several states, federal regulators, and private owners, the company has begun buying back some of the cars for what they were worth in September of 2015. One such owner is Joe Mayer of Cincinnati, Ohio, who owns a 2010 Golf TDI. The terms of the federal court settlement are quite general. They specify that any eligible vehicle “must be operable, meaning that it can be driven on its own engine power.” Mayer called Volkswagen to see if he could remove parts from the car before selling it back to the company. He spoke to a representative who told him, “I’m not telling you you’re allowed to, but the only thing required is that it’s driveable and operable.”

Mayer decided that meant he could remove all the parts of the car except the engine. He would drive the stripped chassis to the local Volkswagen dealer, collect his check, then resell the doors, seats, bumpers, carpet, radio, instruments, switches, and other assorted bits. But first he took photos of his stripped out Golf and posted them to Instagram. Jalopnik picked up the story, which got Volkswagen’s attention. The company complained to the court. Federal judge Stephen Breyer, who approved the settlement, was not amused.

“Clearly the purpose of the agreement by Volkswagen was to accept these cars in the condition that they were in as they were being driven on the road, and not to strip the cars.” He said he would consider further action if necessary, though it’s not clear exactly what that means. However, federal judges have enormous power to enforce their orders. If Mayer has any sense, he will back away from a fight with Judge Breyer.

Apparently, other owners have also removed certain “souvenirs” from their Volkswagen TDI vehicles, but none has been quite as brazen as Mayer. If he had not felt compelled to brag about his plan online, Volkswagen probably would have swallowed hard and bought back his hulk of a car. My old Irish grandmother would say Joe Mayer is too clever by half.

Source: AutoBlog   Photo credit: Joe Mayer, Instagram


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I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Rick Danger

    Too funny! The guy just *had* to post it on social media.
    Meanwhile, boo hoo to VW and the judge. All these lawyers should know enough to say what they mean in an agreement such as this.

    • Steve Hanley

      One thing I did not put in the article because I didn’t have enough information was the curious timing of Mr. Mayer’s TDI purchase. He describes himself as a car salesman. He buys a 5 year old TDI the same month the diesel cheating scandal breaks. Did he perhaps buy the car for less than market value from an owner who was spooked by the cheating news, betting VW would have to buy it back from him later for more money? Don’t know, can’t say. But the timing and his rather over the top behavior when it came time to sell the car back to Volkswagen get my Spidey Sense tingling.

      The rest of your comment struck a chord with me. I practiced law for most of my adult life. I practiced and practiced but I could never get it right, so I gave it up to pursue honest work as a writer.

      I too was struck by how vague the wording of the settlement agreement was. It left loopholes large enough to drive a semi-trailer through. People often criticize lawyers, and justifiably so, for using densely packed legalese that only another lawyer can comprehend. On the other hand, when they try to write stuff in plain English, people like Mayer sharpshoot them to death with fiddly little nit picking interpretations like this.

      It’s a no win situation. On balance, I am far happier being a writer than I was being a lawyer.

      • kevin mccune

        WTF ! people shouldn’t try to take advantage of a company that is trying to do half right ,I have been screwed so many times by the big guys ,it just doesn’t bother me that much – but , it has cost them word of mouth and actual business ,( I don’t do rude Doctors anymore either , for every SA ,there is a nice provider ,you just have to look around ) and the dealers don’t get but one shot at me anymore.
        Pet peeve with the dealers ,unabashedly trying to sell me a one to two year old vehicle for a ” new ” price ( I like the warranty thank you )