Add “to Volkswagen” to the business lexicon

Scandal

As the Volkswagen emissions-testing-fiddling scandal rolls on – and is getting much worse for the beleaguered German firm – speculation grows that other car makers are also gaming the system.

If the testing methods used in countries around the world are so predictable that knowing exactly how they work offers ready temptation to circumvent tests in ways that don’t really seem wrong – it’s just a little cheating, don’t you know? – it seems credible to take the view that this surely must be more widespread.

So we wait for more revelations from an industry that has doing very well on sales of cars for the past year or so, where emissions test results play a part on helping car-buyers decide which make and model to buy.

But why stick only with the auto industry? Given the trend of diminishing trust that envelops Big Business these days isn’t it, sadly, reasonable to speculate that others in other industries may also be fiddling tests?

The latest I’ve seen concerns the consumer electronics giant Samsung and what they’ve allegedly been up to with the results of European energy rating tests regarding their latest generation big-screen televisions.

From a report in Quartz yesterday quoting the Guardian:

An unpublished study by ComplianTV, an EU-funded research group, found that Samsung televisions in Europe use less power when they are being tested for energy-efficiency ratings than during real-world use, according to the Guardian. The European Commission told the newspaper it is planning to investigate whether schemes to cheat on environmental tests are being “used in other product sectors,” adding that “products found to behave differently under test conditions cannot be considered compliant.”

That wasn’t what caught my eye in Quartz, though – it was the headline:

Samsung is accused of Volkswagening its TVs to oversell their energy efficiency

QZ.com: Samsung is accused of Volkswagening its TVs to oversell their energy efficiency

Add the creation of the new verb “to Volkswagen” to VW’s catalogue of woes surrounding their emissions-testing nightmare.

No matter that, if you think about this, “to Volkswagen” strictly should mean something like “to plan and perpetrate a deliberate fraud on consumers and regulators in order to achieve a competitive advantage” – and, in the case of Samsung, there’s no accusation that the Korean company has done that (and Samsung denies any test-fiddling at all) – the phrase “to Volkswagen” could become an easy label to stick on anything that games a system, whether a fraud like Volkswagen’s or something less malignant.

Volkswagen’s reputation sinks lower by the day.