Some not sure Cash for Clunkers worth it

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Monday at 8 p.m. the government's Cash For Clunkers program officially comes to an end, at least for you. Monday afternoon, the federal government gave auto dealers an extension to get all their paperwork in, so they could be refunded their money.

It has been wildly popular.

"The clunker program has certainly driven traffic to all of our showrooms," said Lufkin Honda Dealer Robin Mercer.

However, there are some things dealers said they just couldn't ignore.

"Most of our claims have been in the system, completely filed with all attachments, for well over three weeks," said Mercer. "No response yet."

The response time is slow and filing claims can be tough when the web site doesn't always work, so the National Automobile Dealers Association told dealers they should stop the program a little early to get their claims in on time.

"You can imagine how long it's going to take for the dealers who today, as we wind down, are still trying to get those last few final claims in," said Mercer.

"The paper work is about that thick and it takes a long time and you have to submit it and they reject it," said Wright Buick, Pontiac, GMC Owner Paul Wright.

Dealers said they spend hours just filing one claim, so the government has decided to give them an extension to get their paperwork in. However, even with the claims in for some, the program hasn't paid off.

"We're looking at less than 10% of our deals have been paid for," Mercer said.  "We just feel fortunate that we've been paid for anything."

If they don't get reimbursed?

"We're sitting on a clunker and we'll just have to do the best we can," Wright said.  "If we end up losing two, or three, or four thousand dollars, there's not much benefit there."

Now, sitting on a lot full of clunkers waiting for money, would dealers do it again?

"It depends on if they can start funding and get everybody funded and not hold up on the minute details, but at this point, I'm a little skiddish," said Wright.

"We'll see if we all get paid it will have been worth it, if not, it will have been a very expensive lesson," Mercer said.

For now, they trust the government will pay up.

Car dealers now have until 12 p.m. on Tuesday to get all their paperwork filed.

The government said up to 800,000 mostly fuel-efficient vehicles have been sold under the cash for clunkers program.

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