Shut Out: Consumers Fuming Over Cash for Clunker Shortfall

They were on the way to pick up their new car... and then the dealership called.

ByABC News
July 31, 2009, 10:34 AM

July 31, 2009— -- Thanks to the cash for clunkers program, Kay Ling and her husband Lowell were supposed to pick up their new 2009 Ford Escape this morning. But then, just two and half hours before they set off one last time in their rusty old car, the phone rang.

The dealership was delaying the sale indefinitely because of questions about the future of the government program.

"They said they didn't want to give us our new vehicle, then have to ask for it back if the program didn't work out. By then, they would have already crushed our 1994 Dodge Dakota," Ling said. "This is so frustrating."

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Ling and thousands of other car shoppers around the country were thrown into limbo last night when the White House said the that just days after its start, the government's popular cash for clunkers program was running out of money.

Lawmakers had originally expected the program to last until Nov. 1 or when the $1 billion budget for new car sale rebates ran out. Now it's possible that the program won't even last a week.

The government has not officially suspended the program but some dealers, afraid that they won't get reimbursed by the government, have stopped making new sales. Others are moving forward, hoping that the government will still honor deals and that Congress will put more money into the program.

Click here to see if your car would have been eligible under the program.

"Quite frankly, we're planning on having our dealerships open this morning and we plan on selling," Marc Cannon, spokesman for AutoNation, the country's largest automotive retailer said. "The government did not suspend the program. They discussed it. They're looking for money right now and we have told our dealerships that we are open and taking cash for clunkers."