Cash for Clunkers: Chenango auto dealers still waiting for payment

CHENANGO COUNTY – As Cash for Clunkers winds down, area dealers are still waiting to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from the federal government for vehicles they have sold as a result of the incentive program.

“It’s really put a strain on our resources,” said Trip deCordova, president of The Benedict Corporation. His GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac and Subaru dealership has more than 20 applications still in limbo, he said, which translates into more than $100,000 they have yet to collect.

The Norwich car dealer knows he’s not the only one still waiting to see any cash for the clunker deals he’s sealed.

“We’ve heard all sorts of rumors,” he said, describing reports he’s read in industry magazines of larger dealerships who were still waiting on a million dollar or more. He personally knows of one dealer who has received payment on only two of the 100 cars he sold through Cash for Clunkers, and another in Wisconsin paid for just three of the 80 they sold.

While deCordova said Cash for Clunkers has been successful in the fact that it has stirred up consumer interest in purchasing both new and used vehicles, he still calls the execution of the program an “administrative nightmare” for dealers.

“I don’t think they had any idea how this would go off,” he said.

Since the Cars Allowance Rebate System (CARS), as it is officially known, commenced car owners across the country have been taking advantage of the program, trading in their old gas guzzlers in exchange for up to $4,500 off new, more fuel efficient models. According to an Automotive News report, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that more than 635,186 transactions totaling $2.65 billion had been processed as of 7:47 a.m. Monday.

The number of transactions has repeatedly overwhelmed the government website he and others dealers use to file applications. On Friday, deCordova said, the site was down for 4 hours and entering six deals, which should have taken less than an hour, took five. He was keeping his fingers crossed Monday morning, hoping that they wouldn’t experience similar problems with the site as dealers across the country tried to get applications in before the 8 p.m. deadline.

The site did in fact experience more problems Monday afternoon, prompting the DOT to extend the submission deadline until noon today. There was no extension, however, on Cash for Clunker sales.

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