Edmunds.com, the car info website, is asking people who participated in the short-lived Cash for Clunkers program to contact them if something went wrong. Although they can’t fix any problems, they’re trying to collect data on consumers who are being asked to pay back the government rebate after already being approved, which was forbidden under the rules of the program, so they can present the data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The problem comes from dealers who improperly authorized rebates, in some cases because of unnoticed state regulations that would invalidate an application.
Asking for repayment if the rebate is rejected is something dealers are not allowed to do, says Lena Pons, policy analyst for Public Citizen.
“The onus was on the dealer to verify the paperwork before they completed the transaction,” says Pons. “Many people would not have gone through that process if they knew they were going to be on the hook for additional money.”
And Pons says the government needs to do more to ensure consumers aren’t defrauded – for example, by being asked by a dealer to repay a rebate that the government had approved and paid.
“There’s a large number of sources of fraud we’re concerned about, and we’re trying to gather information on that,” she says.
If you were denied a rebate, particularly after already being approved, you can share you story with Edmunds by visiting this page, where you can post to their forum or email them directly.
“Were you wrongly denied your CARS (i.e., Cash for Clunkers) rebate?” [Edmunds.com]
“Consumer groups try to protect buyers in clunker deals” [USAToday]