Car maker Volkswagen has received the highest possible fine for misleading consumers from the Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets.
On Tuesday the body announced a penalty of €450,000 for ‘unfair commercial practices’ as Volkswagen advertised certain cars as eco-friendly ‘while the results of emission tests had been manipulated by illegal software.’
Dutch consumer organisation the Consumentenbond believes this fine may have cleared the way for people to bring personal claims for damages, according to the NOS broadcaster. It wants to discuss compensation with the German manufacturer.
In autumn 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it had sold 11 million cars worldwide with secret ‘defeat device’ software that ensured it would pass emissions tests in a laboratory, while the cars emitted higher levels of pollution on the road.
Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, an ACM board member, said in a press release: ‘We have established that Volkswagen has misled Dutch consumers about the emission of harmful pollutants. Therefore, ACM has imposed a fine [to] send a clear signal. Consumers are entitled to [receive] reliable information.’
Volkswagen has set aside almost $15 billion to compensate American customers but yet discussed any payment in Europe, although customers with the cars involved do have an extra two-year guarantee, reports broadcaster NOS.
Volkswagen told DutchNews.nl in a statement: ‘Volkswagen disagrees with the decision taken today… and intends to appeal against it. Volkswagen does not believe it infringed Dutch consumer protection laws.
‘All Dutch customers who acquired a Volkswagen, SEAT, Audi or SKODA vehicle with an EA189 diesel engine have been treated fairly. All vehicles have kept type approval and so remain roadworthy, and there has been no violation of emissions regulations or laws. Our customers remain our number one priority and we are working hard to earn back their trust.’