Washington, DC - Well, that didn’t take long.

The details of the historic $10 billion Volkswagen “clean diesel” settlement are still being finalized – and as we mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re already hearing reports of dealers targeting VW owners and lessees with promotions that include half-truths, misinformation, and downright deception.

At a hearing today, U.S. District Judge Breyer, the judge presiding over the matter, mentioned them, too – calling them “proposals for opportunities” that are “deceptive, adversely affecting rights of claimants.”

If you or someone you know owns an affected VW, here’s the straight story. At some point soon – perhaps the late fall – VW will start buying back those cars for at least their current replacement cost, and often more. (A modification to the car plus cash is also under consideration.) Owners or lessees should register now at VWCourtSettlement.com  to learn about their options. Don’t make any decision without visiting that site and getting accurate information about how much money the settlements mean for you.

We also have cautionary guidance for car dealers. Of course, there’s nothing illegal about truthful advertising, but savvy dealers will steer clear of promotions that could deceive owners or lessees of eligible TDI cars:

  1. Don’t suggest or imply that you’re making an offer in connection with the official settlements in the case.
  2. Choose your words wisely. Describing a promotion with terms like “buyback” runs the risk of deceiving consumers in this context. It’s also misleading to imply that consumers have to do business with you or have to spend their settlement money on another vehicle. Making misrepresentations about the settlement in an effort to sell cars could land you in legal hot water.
  3. Let’s face it: At some point soon, many current VW TDI owners will be in the market for another car. But it’s unwise to rush them into a choice before they have a complete understanding of their options. Dealers out to earn long-term loyalty will encourage affected consumers to register at VWCourtSettlement.com  to get an accurate picture of the alternatives.
  4. FTC staff is taking a careful look – a very careful look – at ads and direct mail marketing that target affected VW TDI owners. If you see something that makes a questionable claim, send us a copy. It’s not right for dealers that play by the rules to have to compete with those that don’t.