Volkswagen Tries to Win Customers with Gift Cards

VW_Golf_TDI_Clean_Diesel_WAS_2010_8983Too little, too late? Volkswagen is finally trying to rebuild its image, but the approach may not work. The company is offering U.S. customers two credits for $500: one to be spent at a VW dealership and the other to be spent anywhere. In addition, customers with diesel cars will have free roadside assistance for three years.

The "Goodwill Package" is announced on the VW website.

A Fortune writer doubts the cash will have any impact:

"When it comes to throwing money at a problem, we can learn something important from an experiment that was conducted on 632 eBay users in Germany, who had left negative feedback following a transaction. In the study, published in 2010, half received an apology 'I would like to apologize and ask whether you might withdraw your evaluation.' The other half received a cash rebate (about $5) 'as a goodwill gesture.' The results? When offered cash, 21% removed their critical rating. But when offered an apology (without any cash), 45% removed the critical rating."

Customers are still waiting for a solution, but U.S. CEO Michael Horn says the company isn't ready: "We are working tirelessly to develop an approved remedy for affected vehicles. In the meantime we are providing this goodwill package as a first step towards regaining our customers' trust."

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • How effective do you think the customer credit will be in rebuilding VW's image?
  • The company is taking a long time to identify a solution for customers. What's your view of the situation? Do you find it understandable, stalling, or something else?