WASHINGTON -- Dealers who dip into the next $2 billion of the cash-for-clunkers program should have an easier time filing claims and getting paid.
Systems improvements made by contractors Oracle Corp. and Citigroup Inc. to cope with the unexpected popularity of the program are speeding dealer filings, said spokesmen for the Transportation Department and National Automobile Dealers Association.
NADA has received significantly fewer calls over the past couple of days, spokesman Bailey Wood said late last Friday, Aug. 7. There are kinks still left in the system, but they, too, are being worked out.
More capacity added
Oracle, which is handling computers for the Transportation Department, has more than doubled its capacity so it can now handle 30,000 simultaneous transactions, department spokesman Rae Tyson said.
It had capacity for only 12,000 at the start of the program, he said. Oracle also has corrected a security problem that was timing users out too quickly, Tyson said.
Citigroup, which is processing dealer rebate claims, has tripled to 300 its staff members who match claims with government requirements to be sure theyre filed properly, he said.
Neither company was sufficiently ready for the initial volumes, perhaps because we did not know how large the backlog was, Tyson said in an e-mail. Additionally, Oracle had some startup issues that caused problems for dealers in the first few days.
In late July, the Transportation Department met with Citigroup in Newark, Del., to address the issues, he said.
Still some issues
To be sure, problems persist.
Dealers are reporting difficulties in resubmitting claims that had been rejected for lack of proper entries or documentation, NADAs Wood said.
Resubmitted claims are being rejected automatically -- even with the proper entries and documentation -- because of the routing number assigned to each deal, he said.
Dealers arent able to resubmit a claim under the same routing number, prompting them to call the Transportation Departments help line.
Many dealers have had to spend a great deal of time on the help phone line to figure out how to resubmit the request, Wood said.
At the same time, though, a number of dealers have expressed satisfaction with the improvements in the system.
We now feel very comfortable with the system of inputting the deals, said Jim Daluga, a Toyota dealer in Fox Lake, Ill. All in all, a great program.
Daluga said last week he had 36 of his 47 deals approved by the government, with eight of them paid for.
Many dealers had been frustrated by their inability to file claims because of systems bottlenecks, to get government approvals or to get paid.
Starting Tuesday, Aug. 4, however, the government started paying dealers, according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
About 1,600 reimbursement payments were made to dealers as of late last week, Wood said, based on data given to NADA by the government.
Another 14,000 rebate applications had been approved but not yet paid.
Last Friday, Aug. 7, President Barack Obama signed into law a $2 billion extension of the $1 billion program that began July 1.
Dealers had submitted $1.03 billion in claims as of last Friday.