“Volkswagen of America will not be changing its name to Voltswagen,” said the German automaker after its premature April Fools' Day PR stunt crashed.
A “bogus press release” temporarily surfaced on March 29 touting the name switch as part of VW’s US launch of its ID.4 electric sports utility vehicle.
It identified Scott Keogh as president/CEO of Voltswagen of America and quoted him as saying, “We might be changing our K for a T, but what we aren’t changing is this brand’s commitment to making best-in-class vehicles for drives and people everywhere.”
The news release triggered social media buzz and news reports about VW’s commitment to electric vehicles, which sent the company’s stock five percent higher.
It was a PR slam dunk. But there was one tiny problem: the Voltswagen name change claim was not true, though VW will put a Voltswagen badge on its electric vehicles.
A VW spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the company didn’t mean to mislead anybody.
“The whole thing is just a marketing action to get people talking about the ID.4,” said the PR rep.
Unfortunately, the bogus rebranding stunt had people talking about the last time VW lied to consumers and governments.
That was the great emissions scandal, which ranks as the biggest fraud in auto history.
In 2015, VW confessed to rigging 11M diesel cars, including 500K in the US, to illegally conceal their emissions.
As of June 2020, VW has paid $33.3B in fines, penalties and car buybacks connected to the scandal.
Ironically, that scandal sparked VW’s drive into the electric car market.
Manhattan’s elite Lenox Hill Hospital also is embroiled in a scandal after the New York Times reported March 30 that the hospital was charging patients $3K for a COVID-19 nasal swab test, an amount 30 times higher than the test’s typical cost.
Lenox Hill, which the NYT calls “one of the city’s oldest and best-known hospitals,” charged such an exorbitant fee by billing the test as a “moderately complex emergency room visit” at its Greenwich Village facility located at the old Saint Vincent’s Hospital.
Meanwhile, medical technicians have been administering COVID-19 swab tests on the sidewalks of commercial strips throughout NYC.
Federal law mandates the COVID-19 testing is free to patients, but the NYT notes that consumers ultimately will bear the costs of Lenox Hill's expensive tests via higher insurance premiums.
A Lenox Hill patient told the NYT she started “freaking out” after she saw a $3,194 charge for an emergency room visit on her insurance bill. The insurer negotiated the fee down to $2,084.
Northwell Health, parent of Lenox Hill, claims that patients getting tests in emergency rooms receive more advanced care.
Less than four percent of COVID-19 tests nationwide have been conducted in emergency rooms.
Northwell owns an urgent care center that is a 15-minute walk from its Greenwich Village facility. It charges $350 for a nasal swab test.