Chris Myers, of Elon, N.C., was finally ready to get rid of his gas-guzzling 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee that got 14 miles per gallon and had spent more than its fair share of time in the mechanic's shop.
Thursday night he got in the car for what he thought would be one last drive. But a delay in some bank paperwork late at night forced him to wait one more day for his new, silver 2009 Jeep Patriot, which gets 22 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.
Then the ground fell out from under Myers. His dealer called this morning saying that a shortfall in funding for the Cash for Clunkers program was putting his sale in jeopardy.
"I'm pretty upset right now," Myers, 26, said this morning. "I cleaned out the car. I took out my XM Radio."
Myers expected to get $4,500 from the government and another $3,500 that Chrysler was matching as an incentive. That would have brought the cost of the new car down to $10,400, or a monthly car payment of about $180.
At that point, it became economical for Myers to buy a new car with better mileage than keeping his old one alive with more repairs.
"I figured that a low monthly payment for a car under warranty was more efficient," he said.
Kimberly Paschedag, of Fairport, N.Y., was also going to pick up her new vehicle this morning when the dealer called and said to forget it.
"He told me that the program has been suspended. I, however, am reading otherwise," Paschedag said. "Now I'm out a new vehicle and they have my `clunker' sitting on their lot. I took money out of my retirement plan to pay for the new vehicle when all along it could have been earning interest. I'm mad as heck and I want some answers."
Dan Williams, of Sims, N.C., also got a call today. He had a 1 p.m. appointment to purchase a new car and trade in his 1986 Chevy S-10 Blazer.
"I had already worked the numbers with the dealer, and was approved for financing," Williams said. "I received a call Thursday night from the dealer informing me the program was being suspended and that I needed to come that night to get my deal done. I was unable to get to the dealership Thursday night to close the deal. Definitely feeling shut out."