Area dealer thinks the program needs a tune up

Is Cash For Clunkers A Lemon?

By Marc Strauss

July 15, 2010 Updated Aug 7, 2009 at 5:14 PM CST

Terry Allen has been selling cars for 26 years, so he knows a lemon when he sees one.

"For the amount of steps that you have to go through and the length of time that this takes to get this thing processed, yeah, I think it's way over the top."

Allen is the sales manager at Nikles Motor Company in Mason City and he's referring to the government's "Cash For Clunkers" program. He says his office manager spent 12 hours on the "Cash For Clunkers" website working on just one deal. And he says he's heard the same stories from other dealers.

"You can go to the cars.com website and enter your information and it says 'you may qualify'. But then, when you go to the back screen to actually submit it you can't find the car the customer is trying to trade in, that's where the nightmare really starts."

For a small dealership like Nikles, "Cash For Clunkers" doesn't appear to be working. They've only been able to get one customer's vehicle through the government's red tape. And they still haven't heard back whether the deal has been approved.

"It's been a fiasco," said Nikles salesman Ron Dunkel, whose been in the car business for 50 years. "The time it takes just to get one deal through, then it gets declined and you try to get it reviewed. You call the help line and the line is busy for hours."

Nikles isn't the only dealership disillusioned with the program.

"Several dealers have told me they're looking at suspending the program entirely because they can't get paid," revealed Allen.

Allen thinks the program could work, but it needs more input from dealers and the auto industry. But right now, it's Washington that's in the driver's seat.

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