Sex sells, they say, but it isn't helping Volkswagen dealers in Germany.
German tongues are wagging over a sex scandal that has rocked the country's largest carmaker. Prosecutors are investigating charges that top VW labor union officials trotted around the globe, attending lavish parties and having prostitutes supplied to them, much of it on the company tab.
The scandal has reverberated from the German chancellor's office right down to VW's dealers.
"I really wanted to finally buy a new Volkswagen this year," a longtime VW Bora (Jetta) owner told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News. "But after this unsavory affair, a VW is out of the question."
A salesman at a VW dealership in Hurlach, Germany, said customers can't stop talking about the affair. One customer said: "I have to pay 1,200 euros (about $1,400 at current rates) more for my Golf than for an Opel Astra because these gentlemen whooped it up in Brazil."
Now customers are even using the scandal as a tool to negotiate prices downward.
"Customers come into the dealership with the latest tabloids and make fun of the sales staff," said VW dealer Burkhard Weller, who until recently was spokesman for the VW dealerships within the ZDK, the German franchise dealer association.
Weller said the result of the verbal battering is that "self-confidence breaks down, and sales suffer because customers apply pressure on price even more."