Consumers cheered the government’s Cash for Clunkers program by trading in hundreds of thousands of their gas-guzzlers, but when it comes to getting reimbursed for the trade-in’s, dealers say the program has stalled.
Car dealers handed out billions of dollars in vouchers to get the economic engine started again, but waiting for funds from the government has some dealers putting the brakes on car buying incentives.
At Bob King’s Volkswagen dealership the cash for clunkers program helped sell about 30 cars that would still be on the lot.
“Out of those 30 deals, we’ve been paid on one so far and we’re hoping to see quite a bit of that money come back to us,” said Jason Wallace of Bob King.
At Fairway Ford, it’s a similar story; ten clunkers, lots of paperwork, and no refunds for the dealer.
“If they reject it, we go to the back of the line and have to start over again. So we really have no idea what the time table is we don’t know if our paperwork is correct, so we really don’t know where we stand,” said Hugh Highsmith of Fairway.
Dealers fueled the government incentives expecting to be reimbursed, but with so many sales the government can’t issue the rebates fast enough.
“The original billion dollars was supposed to generate 250,000 sales, and initially they had 225 people processing those claims,” Highsmith said.
In all, dealers are waiting on hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates, but despite the kinks dealers are still calling the program a success, at least for now.
“With the exception of the time frame for getting our money, I think it has been a very positive program,” Highsmith said.
But with the government in the driver’s seat, dealers say they expected a bumpy ride.
“I think we had an idea just in previous dealings with the government that it wouldn’t be as smooth as indicated,” Wallace said.
While a few rebates have started to roll in, many are being rejected because the paperwork wasn’t filled out correctly.
Some dealers have stopped offering the Cash for Clunkers incentive until they’re reimbursed for the first round of rebates.