Audi takes its customers for a ride: An update on the TT window regulator issue

As temperatures across the UK plummet below freezing, most drivers will be preoccupied with the traction of their tyres on Britain’s icy roads, but for some, there’s an even bigger problem to worry about.

Owners of Audi’s Mk2 TT have discovered that their electric windows will fail – usually while mid-way open – leaving them unable to park their car (without risk of it being stolen) and with the unwelcome side-effect of winter open-air motoring on every journey.

We first picked up on the problem last February when the driver’s side window on our own 2007 TT 2.0 TFSi failed. After discovering it was caused by the fraying of a cable (connecting the window regulator with the pulleys which move the pane of glass), I decided to replace the part myself so as to understand ‘how’ it could have occurred.

SEE ALSO: Final Report: Audi TT 2.0 TFSi – window regulator problems solved!

The conclusion we reached was of the premature failure of a component which most owners would reasonably expect to last the lifetime of their car, or at least the custody of several owners.

Audi seem pretty chilled-out about the whole issue, leaving TT owners 'chilled in'.  Brr..

Audi seem pretty chilled-out about the whole issue, leaving many TT owners ‘chilled in’ their cars. Brr..

We soon discovered the problem was not an isolated incident and after being contacted by dozens of TT owners, we reached out to Audi UK to find out what could be done.

After much toing and froing, Audi UK eventually agreed this was an issue and released a statement advising customers to get in touch with Audi Customer Services who had been briefed to handle the situation.

That was back in May 2012, since then we’ve been inundated with emails and phone calls from TT owners telling us the same thing – official dealers are quick to slap customers with a £300 repair bill, while Audi Customer Services deny any manufacturing fault, dismissing it instead as ‘wear and tear’ (i.e. the customer’s fault).

* * *

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 gives customers the right to claim compensation for a faulty product if it’s proven to be of insufficient quality or not fit for purpose. The seller (i.e. the official Audi dealer) must either repair or replace the goods ‘within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience to the customer’.  I’d say driving around in a car while freezing your nads off counts as ‘inconvenience’, as does the fear of it being stolen when parked outside your house.

If the retailer refuses to replace or repair the product (as appears to be the case in this instance) then the customer has the right to arrange for someone else to repair the item, and then claim compensation from the retailer for the cost of doing this.

The customer has up to six years to take a claim to court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or five years in Scotland, so every one of the incidents we’ve seen fall into this period of jurisdiction.

If you’d like to pursue this route, then there’s a handy guide on the website that talks you through the process.

* * *

We took these fresh concerns to Audi UK and between the beginning of August 2012 and the end of November 2012, they chose to ignore us. It wasn’t until we rattled our social media cage that one of Audi’s Customer Relations Managers (Craig Westwood) got in touch on 23rd November.

After a further two weeks of waiting, last Friday we received the following response (copied to Jon Zammett, Head of Audi Public Relations):

So, as you can see, after 10 months of liaising with Audi’s Customer Service teams we’re back to square one. No apologies for reneging on the promise made to customers in May, or any further insight from Audi’s ‘public relations’ people on why the failures keep occurring and what this says about Audi’s commitment to its customers and the quality of its cars.

In the meantime, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, Audi continues to grow at a double-digit rate with worldwide deliveries up 10.9 percent last month on the same period in 2011. The company is on target for its biggest sales year ever, exceeding the record amount of 1,302,659 new cars sold in 2011.

I’ve worked with many of my corporate clients over the years, helping them deal with a symptom called ‘Brand Arrogance’, where market leaders stop listening to customers and become intoxicated with the sound of their own voice. Maybe they’ll awaken in time to avoid the inevitable decline, but the signs are not good.

The company’s latest RS 4 seems acutely compromised, the R8 continues on with a dated cockpit and was the Crosslane Coupé really worthy of its Paris Motor Show build-up? And of course anyone who’s visited Goodwood’s Festival of Speed over the past few years, can’t help but have noticed the vastness of Audi’s monument to itself.

In the meantime after living with an RS 4 and R8, we still own our Mk2 TT, and still love it to bits, which I guess makes us part of the problem – if only Audi’s cars weren’t so damned desirable..

Previous updates

  • Darren

    Has anyone had any luck getting Audi to admit the window regulators aren’t fit for purpose and had them replaced by a dealer? Or compensated by Audi in any way?

    • Audi have admitted the fault to us and will generally compensate owners, usually for 50% of the bill when replacing both window regulator units. Unfortunately the service remains a little inconsistent (especially the response from Audi Customer Services), and usually depends on your Audi dealer offering a goodwill discount who are then compensated (in some way) by Audi UK.

  • Karl

    Just had this window problem with our 09 TT………Audi uk absolutely wasted my time, they said take it to my local Audi dealer (which is about 45 mins away) to check what the problem was, the car stayed in all day and I had to pick it up the next day, I informed Audi uk that the Audi dealer said it was the common window regulator problem and the cost of repair was £260. Audi uk’s answer was they didn’t want to know, end of !!
    As I said, what a waste of time!

    Vorsprung Durch Technik and all that !! Ha!

    • Hi Karl, I spoke with Audi UK recently about the failure of their front-line CS reps in handling this issue. They are ‘fully’ aware of both the technical fault and the way some members of their staff were handling customer complaints. We were also contacted by BBC Watchdog and asked if it was something they should get involved with, but at the time I said no because the people I trust within Audi UK assured me it would be dealt with internally.

      Unfortunately the handling of the situation is sometimes patchy. Some owners receive good support from Audi CS, who will direct customers to their Audi Centre (which is the correct step) who then assess the problem and may approach Audi UK for financial support in compensating the customer. The compensation offered will depend on the customer, how long they’ve owned the car, its condition and any other contributory factors (i.e. misuse), but in most cases they will shoulder up to 50% of the bill (assuming both window regulators need replacing at some point). This is actually pretty standard and more than many other car makers would offer.

      My best advice would be to be persistent, show the Audi CS reps this article (and the first in the series which contains an official letter from Audi’s Head of Communication) and don’t take no for an answer.

      • Karl

        Me again :/

        HAHA, Being blackmailed by Audi uk, not a good start,
        If i pre book a service and pay for it now they may possibly offer a good will payment towards the regulator replacement, then again they may not !! WHAT!!
        I’ve had enough now, I’ve just ordered a new regulator and I’m going to fit it myself,
        I was looking at buying the new Audi TT next year, I now think I’m going back to BMW, the new i8 looks to be the option 🙂

        • Sorry to hear that Karl, lets hope Audi has learned from the Mk2 TT and the problem won’t reappear in the Mk3.

          The i8 is fun, but just remember there’s plenty of ‘new’ technology which needs to go through its own cycle of user testing..