Volkswagen’s $1000 Gift Cards Fall Short

Media Releases

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

Automaker Should Still Offer Full Rebates

Illinois PIRG

UPDATE: Information available to us continues to change. We do not recommend any consumer accepting this card until VW makes clear that the card does in actual fact come with absolutely no strings attached, and that consumers retain the right to sue the company, individually or in class actions, to recover the full value of their car, as we have always called for as the only fair remedy. (Some news stories are reporting that accepting the card is a final step -– not first step — and that any further disputes would be subject to arbitration as the only remedy for further disputes. Other stories report that any arbitration clause only applies to disputes over the terms of the bank-issued prepaid card, not to your rights to sue VW, but courts have previously interpreted arbitration clauses very broadly.)

“Seven weeks after news of Volkswagen’s emission scandal broke, the automaker is offering $1,000 in gift cards and vouchers to owners of affected diesel cars.  

“Michael Horn, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America said they, “are providing this Goodwill Package as a first step towards regaining [their] customers’ trust.”

“While this is a good first step since it appears to come with no strings attached, VW should take full responsibility for its deceit and harm to nearly 500,000 customers by offering to buy back defective cars at their original prices. 

“$1,000 pales in comparison to the money consumers spent purchasing vehicles that were fraudulently marketed to them.

“Additionally, VW should be held fully accountable for the environmental harm it has caused. They built elaborate software — called a “defeat device” — to turn on emission controls during testing and turn them off during regular driving, emitting as much as 40 times the legal limit of smog-forming pollutants.”

In the wake of the scandal, Illinois PIRG launched a Make VW Pay Campaign to hold VW fully accountable while preventing future corporate lawbreaking that cheats consumers or places health, safety, wallets or the environment at risk.

Key elements of Illinois PIRG’s Make VW Pay Campaign include:

1. Volkswagen must offer to buy back all “defeat device” diesel cars with full rebates to customers. VW cheated customers in selling them a product that was different than advertised in material ways. 

2. The EPA must demand tough penalties: For VW’s violation, the law calls for penalties up to $37,500 per car — or $18 billion total.

3. Congress must put an end to the auto industry’s “get out of jail free” loophole: Auto industry lobbyists have won and defended a loophole in the law that makes it harder to prosecute their executives for intentionally violating the law and putting the public at risk. It’s time to close that loophole and any others that threaten consumer safety or wallets. 

4. The Department of Justice must stop allowing tax write-offs for wrongdoing: We’ve fought against tax write-offs for JP Morgan, BP and other companies when they were forced to pay penalties for violations of our laws. We’ll keep fighting to end these write-offs for VW, GM and other companies.

5. The Department of Transportation to enforce strong federal fuel efficiency standards. 


Illiniois PIRG is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that stand up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at