Fairfax ramps up scrutiny on Volkswagen

Senay and Seniz Suleyman

The fallout from Fairfax Media’s article last Friday, reporting on cases of Volkswagen’s suddenly losing power, continues to gather momentum. First, Volkswagen issued an official response after the original Fairfax article was flooded with comments from concerned owners.

Since then Fairfax has continued to run stories about concerned Volkswagen owners and Volkswagen Australia has reportedly pulled all its advertising from Fairfax publications.

On the one hand it is pleasing to see Fairfax has not been deterred by the loss of advertising revenue, while on the other it now just seems to be turning into a schoolyard spat with two parties trying to score points at any opportunity. For Volkswagen Australia, this is fast becoming a PR nightmare.

The latest article from Fairfax reports on the ownership experience of an 18-year-old Sydney woman, Senay Suleyman (pictured on the right with sister Seniz), who was gifted a new Polo for her 18th birthday last October. According to the article it has suffered a loss of power on four occasions and been returned to the dealer each time.

The article says Volkswagen was considering replacing the car if the problems continued, but they now claim Suleyman’s Polo is fine.

Although the Suleyman family still wants out, Senay’s mother, Suzi, said: “It’s not an option to sell the vehicle because it will simply be like selling a death trap to another motorist.”

It’s important to remember that at the heart of the problem is an emerging group of dissatisfied owners who are sharing tales of worrying behaviour from what they should expect to be reliable and safe new vehicles.

Whether some owners have been whipped up into a frenzy amidst the scrutiny from Fairfax is a separate issue, the point is Volkswagen Australia now has an image problem that it needs to sort out. And fast.

[Pic: Sebastian Costanzo]

UPDATE: We note Fairfax now has a dedicated sub-section of their Drive.com.au website for Volkswagen Problems.