Tulsa Dealers Worry About Clunker Reimbursement

Wednesday, August 5th 2009, 9:17 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- While the Cash for Clunkers Program is driving up auto sales, it may be too successful, creating a backlog for dealers who say cars continue to fly off of their lots.  Dealers like Henry Primeaux aren't exactly complaining.  They love the program, but they would also love to see a check from the government.

Customers continue to flood showrooms, determined to take advantage of a deal they say sounds too good to be true.

"If you only knew my clunker, you would know I'm telling you the truth.  You could never get $4,500 out of it.  Never. I'd be lucky if I got $800 and it has good tires," said car shopper Jamie Davenport.

Auto dealer Henry Primeaux has already nearly filled an entire level of his garage with trade-ins.

Sales with the program aren't an issue. Primeaux's lot is already full of clunkers. But, he says the paperwork involved is becoming a nightmare.

"I just look like this because we did a spot this morning. I don't sleep at night. I wake up thinking about what we're going to do today, and where's the money coming from?" said Henry Primeaux of Primeaux Kia.

Primeaux estimates he's handed out $700,000 in clunker rebates, but is still waiting to be reimbursed by the government.

The Secretary of Transportation says that process was started Wednesday, and dealers should have their money by the end of next week.

"They told me it's going to take 10 days. My question is when's the last time you got your income tax return in ten days. They don't want to hear that," said Henry Primeaux of Primeaux Kia.

That doesn't mean Primeaux and other dealers are going to quit participating in the program.  He says it's the greatest boon to sales he's seen in 35 years of selling cars, and the reimbursement is well worth the wait.

The debate over adding $2 billion to the Cash for Clunker fund stalled in the Senate on Wednesday.  If the fund is not replenished, President Obama says it could go broke as early as Friday.