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Setting the course towards mass settlement of the future by successfully processing diesel settlements for Volkswagen

The manipulation of emission values by car manufacturers that sought to evade the limit values defined by law made history as the diesel scandal in Germany. More than 430,000 affected owners of a diesel vehicle participated in an action for a declaratory judgment, initiated by the consumer group VZBV, against the Volkswagen Group. The parties' agreement to an out-of-court settlement posed an enormous challenge for the world's largest car manufacturer. On the one hand, it was necessary to unequivocally identify the actual claimants in order to provide them an individual settlement offer. This process required a suitable online portal that is able to deal with high visitor numbers. On the other hand, the process had to be designed as consumer-friendly as possible to achieve a high number of concluded settlements. This is where 3C Deutschland GmbH, a subsidiary of Arvato Financial Solutions, stepped in. As part of a partnership, the risk management unit of Arvato Financial Solutions, which includes 3C, has been operating under the Experian name since 1 July 2020.

Agile development work was key

Reviewing settlements primarily involves reconciling vehicle and owner data, manually examining additional documents, and submitting an individual offer to consumers based on their data. With its locations in Erfurt and Heilbronn, 3C Deutschland GmbH has been an expert in digital and structured claims management in the field of motor vehicle and property damage for years now. It already offered settlement reviews for the administration of motor vehicle claims with its “Fast Claim” product – albeit at a smaller scale. In order to adjust the process of the existing product to the increased demands, a new portal had to be set up within a very short period of time, which could handle the expected visitor numbers and satisfied the top security requirements.

Besides creating a database with all necessary information on the claimants and the affected vehicles, 3C developed processes for calculating the respective settlement amount and for executing the payment. Here, a range of different sources, such as lists of affected vehicles, overviews of the participants in the action for a declaratory judgment, and many other datasets, had to be compared.

At times, the tremendous dynamism with which the project requirements changed was the greatest challenge for our entire team; individual steps in the process had to be adjusted on a continuous basis. Since there had been no comparable case in German legal history, particularly agile development work was needed.

Seamless cooperation as a success factor

Not only 3C but also Majorel, the company specialized in customer service, were involved in the process. To competently support consumers throughout the offer process, a service center with a team of 650 call center staff was established within just three weeks. What’s more, documents such as registration certificates and purchase agreements were manually reviewed in the service center. Campaign, the direct marketing service provider from the Bertelsmann Printing Group, was likewise involved. After all, more than half a million letters had to be sent on behalf of Volkswagen during the entire process.

With its tight timing and high staffing requirements, the project was only possible with the excellent project work between 3C Deutschland, the law firm commissioned by Volkswagen, and Volkswagen itself, as well as the seamless cooporation of 16 Majorel locations and the lettershop experts at Campaign. Thanks to the outstanding information sharing between the different organizations, everyone involved in the project knew who was working on what component at any given time.

The blueprint for mass settlement of the future

The online portal went live on 17 March. At the same time, the letters were posted to the consumers. The visitor numbers on the first day were immense: up to 14,000 users registered per hour, there were up to 12,000 technical accesses per second, and 93,056 activation emails were sent in total. All the preparations had paid off. The portal was able to handle the rush of visitors and always generated and processed the right documents.

From letter dispatch and digital processes on the settlement portal to customer service, all the cogs in the machine worked perfectly together. The short communication paths within the corporation paid off especially. The success of the project is also reflected in the number of positively concluded settlements (more than 235,000 cases), far surpassing Volkswagen’s expectations.

We are pleased that we were able to support Volkswagen successfully in processing the settlements. In doing so, we wrote legal history and provided a blueprint for the swift and smooth processing of future settlements. We are proud that our business units were able to quickly master this challenge in close collaboration.

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