Posted: January 7, 2004 at 6:25
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- Volkswagen's legal team was
in a San Francisco courtroom Wednesday, taking steps to
settle a lawsuit involving the popular VW Cabrio. It's a
story Contact 4 has been tracking for more than a
"It just rips right off," says Belinda Arge, tearing
a tiny piece of her Cabrio convertible top off. "There's
nothing to it. It's like paper."
We first began looking into complaints about VW
Cabrios in August of 2002. Three Bay Area owners had
Cabrios of the same year and same color, with the same
After our first report, more than 40 others came
forward with similar tales of disintegrating vinyl
convertible tops. We took their complaints to
Volkswagen. Some complainants got free replacement tops.
Others only had to pay half the replacement cost, with
VW footing the other half of the bill. But the rest got
no help at all from VW. And that's why the company was
accused of breaking California's "secret warranty"
"When a manufacturer has secretly decided to give
warranty coverage to people who have cars with known
defects, even though they're beyond the factory warranty
period, they have to extend that benefit to all owners,"
explains attorney Mark Anderson, with San
Francisco-based Kemnitzer, Anderson,
Barron & Ogilvie, LLP. Anderson sued VW on
behalf of Belinda Arge, one of the Cabrio owners in our
The lawsuit accused VW of refusing to offer repair
benefits to all Cabrio owners.
"They should've sent everybody a letter, every owner,
a letter saying, `Here's what we'll do for you.' In
other words, they're not allowed to just give it to the
people that complain."
After Belinda's lawsuit was certified as a class
action, Volkswagen agreed to settle, and to extend the
warranty to Cabrio owners not just here in California
but across the country too.
According to court documents, VW is agreeing to pay
for free replacement tops for cars that developed
problems within 5-years of purchase, or VW will
reimburse you if you paid for a replacement out of
If your Cabrio's problems developed between 5 and 10
years after purchase, VW will pay 50 % of the cost for
replacement, or will reimburse you for half of your
Wednesday was the preliminary hearing to approve the
settlement terms. A final hearing is scheduled for March
23rd. Once that's done, Cabrio owners should be getting
notices in the mail, including details on how to file a
(Copyright 2004, KRON 4. All rights