When dealers in Missouri didn’t get their cash for clunkers cash from the government, they held on to their customers paperwork.
Now those customers could be fined because they haven’t been able to register their cars.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Missouri consumers who participated in the federal “Cash for Clunkers” program this summer could face state fines.
The state Department of Revenue said some customers left dealers’ parking lots without the paperwork needed to register and title their new vehicles. If they don’t register the vehicles within 30 days, they could be fined $25 per month, or up to $200.
The four-week federal program ended in late August.
Dealers in many cases held on to customers’ paperwork, waiting to be reimbursed by the government for the $3,500 to $4,500 rebates given to consumers toward the purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Some dealers said they’ve received only 10 per cent of what they’re owed.
In some cases, dealers said they’ll reimburse shoppers for any late registration penalties.
The popularity of the program is fueling delays in reimbursing dealers, federal officials acknowledge. Consumers nationwide bought 690,114 vehicles during the program, generating almost $2.9 billion in rebate applications. Missouri dealers have requested more than $61 million.
The state Department of Revenue is receiving three to five requests a day from consumers seeking penalty waivers or requesting other options because their dealer isn’t turning over their paperwork, department spokesman Ted Farnen said.
Paul Priebe of Branson West bought a new Ford Fusion with a $3,500 rebate on Aug. 5 and said he hadn’t received his paperwork by Friday. He said he asked the state to delay levying any fines even though the Springfield dealer where he bought the car, Friendly Ford, offered to pay the penalty.
“I’m kind of a stickler for making sure things are done on time,” Priebe said. “I have no doubt it will work out eventually and the dealership will get paid. But I don’t feel, ethically, it was correct at all.”
The dealership’s Ford sales manager, Tim McKee, said only vehicles sold early in the program are being affected.
He said dealers held onto the paperwork in those sales because the program’s $1 billion rebate pool was rapidly emptying and they weren’t sure they’d be repaid. Congress later added another $2 billion, reassuring dealers they would get reimbursed.
McKee said the process is up to 12 days behind but buyers are getting their paperwork. He added that Ford has paid some July late fees but he doesn’t know how many August late fees it’s paid.
State officials are recommending consumers who don’t have their registration paperwork to apply for a “waiver of title penalty,” available online at dor.mo.gov/mvdl/motorv/forms/ or from the nearest DOR licensing office.
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com
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