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Volkswagen Crafter Bus / quality of product, customer service

1 Cape Town, South Africa
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Between July and November 2012 we purchased 5 brand new Volkswagen Crafter BiTDI buses to carry passengers around South Africa. We had been buying Volkswagen buses for over a decade.
In less than 32 months, these 5 buses had a total of 50 Breakdowns, 109 Additional repairs (excluding services) and 1 062 days of downtime (excluding servicing).
That’s an average of 7 months of downtime for each of these 5 buses, in less than 32 months!

The full list of the 50 breakdowns, 109 additional repairs and 1 062 days of downtime can be found on There is also a highly entertaining “must see” 5 minute animated video showing these 50 breakdowns.

We have suffered incredible stress and financial pain. We requested VWSA to compensate us for our breakdown costs (towing expenses and hiring of vehicles): R[protected]. We requested VWSA to compensate us for being forced to replace some of these buses long before they were scheduled to be replaced. We could not endanger the lives of our passengers by having them get stuck in the middle of nowhere late at night. This meant that we had to continue paying the monthly installments to the bank, despite no longer being able to use these buses: R134 523.

Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) will not compensate us for any of these. They will not even give my 16 page letter of complaint to Mr. Thomas Schafer, the Managing Director of VWSA, to whomit was addressed . I have requested again and again that Mr Thomas Schafer reads my letter, but to no avail. I was told by one of their “specialists” from their “Office of the Managing Director” (i.e. customer service call centre) that: “Mr Schafer is too busy with his daily schedules to read the letter that you addressed to him.” (as confirmed by email on 6 May 2015). No-one from VWSA has even bothered to meet with me face to face. In response to my complaints I have received letters written by their National Aftersales managers, Bohdan De Wet and Warren Kable statingthey“consider this case concluded and closed.”

Our staff have been traumatized. We have had to deal with breakdowns late at night (and mornings and afternoons). Our drivers have had to deal with unhappy passengers who have had to wait hours for a replacement bus to arrive (often on more than 1 occasion). We have had to wait for parts to arrive from Germany which often did not arrive on time. We often received a repaired bus back from a VW service station, only for it to break down the very next day. We have suffered enormous stress.

Jul 30, 2015

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