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Saturday, August 22, 2009

CLUNK DUNK

8-21-09 Apex, NC – Forty years ago, the wreckers pulled up to the mud-dried roads leading to Woodstock and began the slow, grinding process of towing away hundreds of abandoned cars that have been parked in haste or haze near the grounds of the festival. It is symbolic today to see the similar thing happen as the dealerships shoot liquid glass into the hood cavities of vehicles destined to the hallowed grounds of Wreckstock USA. And it looks like both groups, the Woodstock followers and the Wreckstock followers, only have their memories left. The money is just not there.

Dealerships across the country are STILL waiting to get paid, and waiting to get paid, and waiting to get paid. The paperwork fiasco might as well have been written on Zig-Zags. Although the stores are selling more vehicles, they are having a tough time collecting from the coffers of the program. On Wednesday, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood assured dealers they would get paid. He expressed confidence in the program. Remember the last time an owner of a sports franchise declared complete competence in the head coach? Ouch.

This whole thing is not very pretty. Millions of dollars are now outstanding in submitted claims. Now the dealers are used to chasing a bad debt or two; heck, they have pulled cars back when a check bounces, BUT this is much bigger. This is Wrecksville and the government is doing the wrecking. Today it was announced the program will end Monday. The Clunker Dunker date is now August 24, 2009. The smart stores have already stopped the program. Inventory is in short supply and the selections are getting tougher and tougher to choose from. I have a friend who was looking for a 2010 Ford Edge. He is still looking.

Tapping a line of credit to keep cash flowing is a strategy, but it does not quicken the money coming back into the New Car Departments. The customers are frustrated. The New Car Managers are scratching their heads, and many salespeople are waiting for commissions that only come from done deals. Another ouch.

When are we going to learn? The government is a big fat bureaucracy full of inertia and incompetence. It does not matter the branch of government. It does not matter the party. Right about now, I want to wear a WHIG!

In the “what the blank” department things are speeding along. It is the only thing going fast in Washington these days. My taxes are up. My healthcare is being challenged, and the car business I love is kicked between the headlights one more time.

I just shake my head. Is this what we voted for in November?

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