'Clunkers' gets mixed reviews in county
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
August 26, 2009 01:00 AM | 454 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The government program designed to help consumers purchase more fuel-efficient cars has earned mixed reviews from Cherokee County dealers.

CARS, or Car Allowance Rebate System, permitted consumers to buy or lease a more environmentally friendly vehicle at a discount from a participating dealer when they traded in a less fuel-efficient vehicle. Consumers who took advantage of the federal stimulus program received between $3,500 and $4,500 in rebates from the dealer.

The program, which ended Monday, resulted in more than 625,000 dealer transactions and garnered $2.58 billion in rebates, according to the CARS.gov Web site.

At Canton's Moore Pontiac Buick GMC Truck, the program has "been a pain," according to co-owner Jack Moore.

The dealership on Marietta Highway completed more than 14 deals under the program, Moore said.

The dealership gave its customers the rebates up front, but has not yet been reimbursed by the federal government.

"We expected a problem collecting" the money from the government, he said.

With not receiving the money, Moore said his dealership has taken a $63,000 "hit."

Moore said he also was disappointed with the bureaucracy and amount of paperwork involved - it took five hours to enter one car into the government's database.

If he had to decide to participate again, Moore said he would pass.

"It could have been real simple," he said. "There was too much government red tape."

Eric Heiter, sales manager at Hennessey Honda of Woodstock, lauded the program.

Heiter's dealership did more than 150 transactions. Heiter said the flow of people trading in their gas guzzlers was twice as many as Hennessy's normal foot traffic.

Heiter agreed the paperwork was challenging, and noted his dealership also has not received all of its reimbursements from the government.

If the dealership does not get the money, it will be nearly $600,000 in the hole.

"We feel confident we will get the money," he said. "It's just going to take a little bit of time."
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