The Class Action
In the Class Action filed in 2007, Plaintiff alleges that VW knowingly concealed, suppressed and omitted to disclose to consumers that Class Vehicles contained defectively designed timing belt tensioners, timing belts and/or associated parts (”timing belt system”), and that VW failed to disclose and/or misrepresented the appropriate service interval for replacement of the timing belt system in Settlement Class Vehicles. VW has denied any defect, wrongdoing or liability whatsoever and deny that this lawsuit could properly be certified as a class action for trial.
Has yours snapped yet?
Mine did. And it was a thoroughly sickening and indignant episode that occurred during an extremely heavy commute time, on a dangerous and well-traveled curve in the road, along one of the most congested streets in all of San Francisco.
I’m on the Audi side of this class-action coin. I’ve owned my TT since 2000 (one of the “original” owners) and have had only a handful of superficial problems with the car; the majority of which were covered and repaired under the three-year warranty Audi provides. Naturally, had the timing belt snapped within the three years, you wouldn’t be reading this post.
It was into my fourth year of ownership and under 80K miles when the belt decided to give — and from that point on, there would be a whole lot of givin’ going on: to the tune of $5,000+ in total repair costs paid to my beaming Audi representative, who claimed there was nothing that could be done by way of compensation from Audi since I was out of warrranty.
Unsettlingly, Audi has known about these problems since as early as July of 2005, but has refused to take action, claiming instead that the company was “not obligated to inform customers until the extent of the problem had been fully determined.”
Well, this eagle has landed: The belts are inherently bad, thoroughly flawed, and embarrassingly weak in construction. I’d say it HAS been determined that these particular Audi & Volkswagen timing belts have some serious, and potentially life-threatening defects.
The recent Olson vs. Volkswagen of America Class Action Suit is underway, and full details of the settlement can be found here:
The Dirty Details
A Settlement has been proposed in a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen of America, Inc. involving all persons or entities which, on or before May 19, 2008, owned or leased a model year 2000, 2001, 2002 and/or 2003 Audi A4 or Audi TT or a model year 1999 Volkswagen Passat vehicle equipped with a 1.8 liter turbocharged engine sold or distributed in the United States by Volkswagen of America, Inc. through its unincorporated division “Audi of America, Inc.”
The proposed Settlement reimburses applicable Class Members for losses due to covered timing belt failures, including damage to the engine and related reasonable out of pocket expenses, provides an extended warranty, free inspection of the timing belt (where applicable) and updates the owner’s manual.
What to expect?
- If you haven’t received your notification in the mail from Audi, call 1-877-465-4899 and let them know that your vehicle meets the guidelines of the settlement. Don’t delay.
- Once you receive your documentation, fill it out (include repair receipts) and mail it in.
- Someone will get back to you within 60 days.
- VW must make payments under the Reimbursement Program within 30 days of the date on which the order of the Court finally approving the Settlement is not subject to any appeal or the Settlement Administrator’s receipt of the claim, whichever shall be later. Under applicable court rules, the earliest deadline for these payments is January 2, 2009.
- Bottom line: you’re either entitled to a free inspection of your current timing belt, or a reimbursement of the damage incurred to your car as a result of a timing belt breakage.
February 23, 2009 update:
- Click the following link to access the Order Granting Final Approval of the settlement (PDF), along with the pen and ink signature from United States District Court Judge, Hon. Manuel L. Real.
- Several e-mails have come back, “Payments will begin being mailed in mid-February” - so we are all on the same page and receiving the same, stock answer regarding the disbursements.
- By now, everyone should have received the green confirmation card (featured below) stipulating that your documentation (qualifying or not) HAS been received. If you have not received the card, find out why. You’ll want to be on the entitlement list when the claims are finally processed.
February 27, 2009 update:
From the PSWPLAW website:
On February 27, 2009, the settlement administrator sent settlement checks to those class members who submitted timely and valid claims. If you have specific questions regarding your claim, please contact the settlement administrator directly at 1-877-465-4899 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 19, 2009 update:
As of mid-March, the Settlement Administrator agency has been distributing new letters to class members who were denied during the first round of reimbursement issuance. It is unclear at this stage whether or not the letters are being sent only to those who submitted follow-up documentation, or if the letters are being sent to individuals who the S.A. deems worthy of reconsideration (my hunch is that it’s the former).
The letters read as follows:
You recently received a letter indicating your Claim Form has been denied in the above referenced Settlement. It has been determined that your Claim Form requires additional review, and a re-evaluation will be performed. You do not need to submit further documentation at this time.
You will be notified in writing of the decision of the re-evaluation, by either receiving your payment or by receiving another letter where you will be provided the opportunity to submit additional documentation if required. This process should be completed within 4-6 weeks.
If you have any questions, please contact the settlement administrator at the number listed above. You may also email the Settlement Administrator by visiting the website at www.timingbeltsetttlement.com.