GMAC Financial Services is greeting phone callers these days with a cheery welcome to "the new GMAC."
But General Motors dealers complain that even after GMAC got a $5 billion federal bailout last month, the lender has yet to loosen most of its old restrictions on retail and wholesale auto finance.
"We haven't sent GMAC one contract in the last 90 days," says Rick Corso Sr., vice president of two dealerships in suburban San Francisco that sell six GM brands. GMAC keeps rejecting credit applications, Corso says.
Last month, the Treasury Department said it would buy $5 billion in GMAC stock. Treasury also lent GM $1 billion to invest in GMAC.
After it got federal aid, GMAC lowered from 700 to 621 the minimum credit score a customer must have to qualify for a loan. The average score is about 680 on a scale of 300 to 850.
GMAC spokeswoman Sue Mallino declined to say how much of the federal money the company is applying to vehicle lending. But she says reducing the credit score cutoff has "allowed us to resume about 90 percent of our traditional spectrum of auto financing."
GMAC has cut some rates on consumer auto loans. This month, one dealer says, GMAC reduced to 7.49 percent, from 8.25 percent, the wholesale rate it charges preferred dealers on prime 60-month consumer loans.
But another dealer says GMAC's rates remain as much as 1.5 percentage points higher than those of commercial banks he uses.