All sales under the program still had to be completed by 5 p.m. Monday, although no local dealers were taking a chance on testing that deadline. Most lots had wrapped up their clunkers sales by Sunday and had since begun turning down shoppers interested in the program, instead diverting them toward automaker promotions and used car trade-in options.
Several local outlets had yet to register more than seven clunkers into the strained online system as of Monday afternoon. Many worried about losses in the tens of thousands because of anticipated government rebates worth between $3,500 and $4,500 per vehicle.
Bob Smith Toyota and Scion in La Crescenta had yet to submit 20 transactions to the system by midday, although sales representative Ron Smith was confident the store would be able to register the information by 9 a.m. Tuesday.
“We have to,” Smith said. “If we want to get paid they have to be in.”
The dealership had sold 155 cars through the program, but has been slowed down by the online system, Smith said.
Other dealers were fuming about the program, which they credited for generating business but criticized for being loaded with administrative problems, including qualification and submission rules.
“The whole thing was screwed up,” said Roger Cowan, general sales manager at Community Chevrolet in Burbank, who said not only was the online system flawed, but some cars that had been “billowing smoke” had not been deemed eligible for the program because they received better than 18-miles-per-gallon fuel economy, according to fueleconomy.gov.