Cash for Clunkers Headaches

August 1, 2009 6:51:20 PM PDT
A computer glitch is causing headaches for several Valley dealerships. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos shows us why they're struggling to cash in on the same deals they're giving their customers.                   |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

For every clunker that qualifies for this rebate an internet form must be filled out and sent to the federal government by the dealer. But because this program is so popular at dealerships the website to reach that form keeps crashing or stalling out.

Getting out of this truck is a daily challenge for Gerald Chooljan. Inside it's worse. You can barely see the speedometer, let alone tell anyone how many miles are on the truck.

Chooljan: "I know there's a lot of miles. Probably well over 200, 250-thousand miles on it."

Which is why Chooljan is trading in this '92 F-150 for a new ride under the 'Cash for Clunkers' government rebate program.

"It's all on the dealers. It's our responsibility to make sure it goes through or we don't get our money," said Mark Rapin.

Rapin is the president of the new car dealers association but right now would like the title of most patient web surfer. "It's like old AOL dial up," Rapin joked.

Every time Rapin and his sales associates at Freedom Ford visit the government's clunker website to input trade-in information it crashes, freezes up or takes minutes for a page to load because so many people are accessing it.

Rapin: "The dealers have to be very careful to follow the rules."

Freedom Ford is not the only dealership dealing with this webpage problem.

General sales manager Antonio Azevedeo: "It takes a long time to get the process going. You have to keep doing it over and over again. Until you get to where you need to be."

The Honda dealership at the Selma Automall has already sold 22 new cars under the clunker program this week. Freedom Ford was on their third sale by lunch time. Both dealerships said the rebate program is increasing the number of people like Chooljan, looking for a deal.

"I think in the long run it was really a great opportunity," said Chooljan.

Many of these dealers expect the government to send them the rebate money within a week to ten days. If they send off this web form and a mistake is found they have to start over again which will delay their rebate.

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