The highest penalty in UOKiK history for infringing consumer rights.
More than usd 120 million – this is the penalty imposed by Marek Niechciał, the President of UOKiK, for the so-called the dieselgate scandal. The sanction was imposed on Volkswagen Group Polska for misleading as to the level of exhaust emissions and directing guidelines resulting in rejection of complaints.
– The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection is another consumer protection body in Europe that issued a decision on this matter. Volkswagen manipulated emissions indicators – misled consumers by saying that its vehicles are environmentally friendly. Poles' ecological awareness is growing, so many people may have intentionally chose cars that emit smaller amounts of harmful substances – said Marek Niechciuk, the president of UOKiK.
The German Volkswagen group used engine control software in Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars produced after 2008 EA 189 EU 5. Under test conditions, it allowed to lower the value of nitrogen oxides emission. This software recognized that the car was at the control stand and reduced the emission of nitrogen oxides. During normal driving it was definitely higher. These values significantly differed from those declared in advertising materials and in approval documents. Consumers have been misled. Moreover, the concern issued guidelines for dealers, according to which they were not to take into account legitimate complaints of consumers related to the level of nitrogen oxide emissions.
The Office said that the practice lasted 8 years, and during the proceedings there were no settlement submissions from the company. According to the President of UOKiK, the false information in the advertising materials caused misinformation – they referred to Volkswagen's pro-ecological attitude, when in reality cars were not environmentally friendly.
UOKiK also reports that the practices have been discontinued: the company does not disseminate misleading information and guidelines which have been questioned by the office in the proceedings. Nevertheless, the effects of this last practice may continue – many people may have waived redress. In addition to the financial penalty, the president of the office ordered to inform about the decision of all consumers who bought cars from the VW group with EA 189 EU 5 engine. The company should also publish the decision on its websites.
The fine for Volkswagen Group Polska amounted to over usd 120 million (usd 120 607 288). Decision of the Office is not validbecause he can appeal to the court.