Builder Tony Smith has revealed his anger at VW – after his van broke down twice after supposedly being fixed following the emissions scandal losing him more than £10,000 of business.
The 72-year-old from Orpington is joining over 60,000 people nationwide – including more than 1,000 motorists in Kent – taking the car manufacturer to court in one of the largest group class actions in UK legal history.
Tony said that the scandal left him out of pocket by £10,295 after VW told him to bring his VW Caddy Van TDI in for a ‘fix’ which then stopped him from driving above 20mph, which meant he missed out on two important pieces of work.
“My van was a big investment, I couldn’t get any more extras, sat nav, air con - it was my mobile office. It was my first VW purchase and now my confidence in VW has completely gone.
“I haven’t even attempted to re-sell my van because I’m worried about the detrimental effect this emissions scandal has had on it’s value. Not only have I lost over £10,000 worth of business but it now costs me more money to run my van because of the drop in mpg.”
Tony Smith is one of the 1,141 people in Kent who have joined the case for compensation from the car giant which admitted cheating emissions tests on some models of VWs, Audis, SEATs and Skodas.
Yet there are thousands more in the Kent area who might not realise they are eligible to join the legal battle.
They have until October 26th this year to add their name to the group litigation order in London’s High Court by contacting lawyers Slater and Gordon which is leading the case for the claimants.
Tony, 72, a grandfather from Orpington in Kent, found out about the emissions scandal when he received a letter from his South Motor Group dealership. He bought the VW Caddy Van TDI in 2012 for just over £24,000 to help his family building business which he runs with his wife, Jenny.
“As soon as I got the letter from the Southern Motor Group dealership saying that my van had been affected by the emissions scandal, I brought my van in. The dealer told me that the “fix” was a ‘goodwill gesture’ from VW. They were very reticent to give anything else away to me though.”
In June 2018, a year after taking his van into the dealership, Tony started experiencing some serious issues.
“I was driving to a job when my van went into safe mode - the van wouldn’t go above 20mph. I couldn’t make it to the job so the client just called up another supplier. This “fix” has not only de-valued my car but it’s lost me business.”
After calling the VW Diesel Hotline the AA took Tony’s van to his dealership. The dealership claimed that Tony’s van broke down because of a faulty part and told him his breakdown had nothing to do with the “fix”.
After his van was returned to him it was only a week till Tony’s van broke down again while he was out on the way to another job.
“I had to get to a meeting with a current client and my car went into safe mode again. I knew that I was going to have to miss the meeting because I couldn’t get above 20mph - it was just another job I couldn’t make because of the fix.”
Tony called his dealership again and they took his car in again at no cost but he’s concerned about the future of his van.
“My miles per gallon have plummeted - this “fix” has not only cost me petrol money but also my livelihood.”
He added: “I think the transport minister should be getting involved - he is a toothless tiger. He clearly doesn’t want to upset the VW empire. He should be doing more to help the average British consumer - we pay his wages after all.”
Tony is among more than 60,000 UK motorists who have signed up to the group litigation against VW. The German car firm is facing the unprecedented legal case after admitting fitting ‘defeat devices’ to some of its diesel-engine models to cheat strict clean air regulations.
In the US, VW admitted deliberately equipping diesel-engine cars with illegal software. Civil and criminal fines and the bill for repairing engines has cost it almost $30bn and the emissions scandal has also resulted in VW executives being jailed.
In the UK, VW’s only response has been to offer consumers a ‘fix’ that claimants have reported did not work, with 40% of those signed up through Slater and Gordon revealing their car has suffered technical problems since undergoing VW’s procedure.
Gareth Pope, a specialist group litigation lawyer from Slater and Gordon, which is leading the legal action against VW, said: “It has been nearly three years since the scandal was exposed yet VW’s only response has been to offer consumers in the UK a fix that our clients are telling us doesn’t work. Our clients deserve an apology and compensation.
“We know there are potentially thousands of motorists in the Kent area who qualify to join the legal actions against VW. We urge them to come forward so they can claim the compensation they deserve.”
Slater and Gordon is urging the 1.2m British motorists who owned a vehicle manufactured by Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT or Škoda between 2008 and 2015 with a 1.2, 1.6, or 2.0 litre diesel engine to join the claim for compensation for a percentage of the value of their vehicles.
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