Ann Arbor area auto dealers cope with 'Cash for Clunkers' confusion
The federal "Cash for Clunkers" program hit a roadblock Thursday, when the program was suspended at midnight after officials said the $1 billion allotment may have run dry.
Then this morning, officials said the program may continue through today.
So what are auto dealers to do amid the confusion? They're trying to sort it out, too.
"I’ve got customers calling me saying, 'What are you going to do?'" said George Davis, general manager of Howard Cooper Import Center in Ann Arbor.
His answer: "We don’t know."
The problem, local dealers say, is that the program to encourage drivers to turn in older cars for new, higher-mileage models - with up to a $4,500 cash incentive - accomplished its goal of generating high consumer interest.
So sales floors have been busy, while - behind the scenes - dealers are left to sort out 130-plus pages of guidelines and mixed messages about what to do and how they'll be reimbursed.
"I'm with a customer right now who's here for the 'Clunker' program," said Myles Kearney, a manager at Gene Butman Ford In Ypsilanti.
He could only talk for a minute this morning, due to that activity. And he said his staff started the day amid the same confusion as Davis.
"We've been told to continue as we have for the rest of the week," Kearney said.
Davis described the program as a fiasco, especially since consumers may not understand the lack of clarity provided to dealers about the program. The suspension of the program Thursday during a busy sales period was especially problematic.
Davis said this morning that he's been advised by company attorneys to halt delivery of vehicles in the "Clunker" program, because they fear the $4,500 payment per vehicle won't be paid to dealers.
Yet, he said, "I'm hoping that any moment something comes through and changes."