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FAW-VW’s “data forgery gate” on the Sagitar recall

FAW-Volkswagen claimed that by March 11 the company had completed installation of a metal plate on the axle frames of 293,003 units of recalled Sagitars, or 52 percent of the total vehicles to be recalled.

The numbers were released at a press conference on March 12, right before the annual CCTV 3/15 Gala program, FAW-Volkswagen also claimed that 97 percent of its customers were “satisfied with the recall.”

But consumers in Beijing, Shanghai, Helongjiang, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong, Hebei, Henan, Inner Mogolia, Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Guangxi and Chongqing complained that they have never accepted the offer to install metal plates. But their Sagitars are described on the company official aftersales service website as having been “recalled.”

“Data forgery” suspected

A Beijing Sagitar owner, a Mr. Ren, logged on to FAW-Volkswagen website on March 26 and found that his car was “recalled” even though he had refused to accept adding a metal plate as a solution to reinforce the rear suspension beam of his problematic Sagitar.

He did visit an FAW-Volkswagen 4S dealership on February 6 for a paint job but was surprised to find out that his car was designated as being “recalled” on the official website.

“I went in to patch up paint on my door,” Ren said. “I wanted them to inspect my rear suspension beam and the mechanic confirmed that the 1 mm crack was still there. I did not accept the metal plate solution. They should not have identified my car as having been recalled.”

Sagita owners challenge FAW-Volkswagen’s claim about customer satisfaction. A Mr. Chen in Hangzhou said: “I have never agreed to their recall solution but have been informed that my Sagitar has been recalled. How can I trust the 97 percent satisfactory rate for the recall?”

Analysts believe that FAW-Volkswagen’s hastily announced recall numbers and consumer satisfaction rate on March 12 in order to prevent from possible follow-up investigation by the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). The AQSIQ is entitled to demand that FAW-Volkswagen resubmit its recall solutions if consumers are not satisfied.

Sagitar owners have found out that starting from February 2, any Sagitar registering on the FAW-Volkswagen’s online service system must enter the “Recall” page, whether the owner agrees to the recall solution or not. Most likely the 52 percent recall number as well as the satisfaction rate was tallied through this online system.

At 2:00 pm on March 31, an official FAW-Volkswagen Weibo tried to explain the disparity between the numbers of recalled and unrecalled Sagitars. “There are in fact three different categories under the “Recall” page: recall complete, waiting for parts and recall incomplete,” reads the Weibo. “But because our service APP software was still under testing, it did not identify the specific category of the recall. We deeply apologize for the confusion of our customers.”

Some Sagitar owners would not take such an apology for an explanation. “We use computers to find out service information on the company official website and it has nothing to do with a mobile App. It would be absurd to claim that FAW-Volkswagen’s website was also under test!” The author was unable to log onto FAW-Volkswagen aftersales service site using a computer up till this article was written on the night of the 31.

Netizens quip that FAW-Volkswagen is probably “testing the intelligence of Chinese citizens.”

(Rewritten by Wayne Xing based on author’s article published in Jinri Zaobao or Morning Express)

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