Funds for appliance rebate program run dry
BOSTON -- The "Cash for Appliances" program turned out to be perhaps too much of a good thing Thursday.
After experiencing a technical roadblock, consumers trying to cash in on their old appliances discovered the money designated for the initiative was gone.
“I got error messages for hours. I had my mom trying to help me on different computers. I tried my iPhone and nothing worked...Finally, I logged on to a website that said that the money was gone,” said Laura Hajdukiewicz.
When trying to log onto the website MassSAVE.com, visitors saw an error screen.
"At 10:00, we went online, and it let us get so far, and then the line crashed and said that we weren't eligible to get in. We went on the telephone and it was just a busy signal, continuous for like 15 minutes," said Patricia Owens, who was trying to buy appliances.
The site crashed basically as soon as it went online earlier Thursday morning due to heavy traffic.
Yale Electric and Appliance set up tech support in their store.
"The website has seemingly crashed, which it may be a show of a lot of interest which the program would be a success, but they are in the process of relaunching the site," said Dennis MacDonald from Yale Electric and Appliance after the initial site crashed.
In response to the website crashing, the state set up an alternative site: https://www.maswap1.com/.
However, less than an hour after launching the new site, the entire $5.4 million designated for the program was exhausted. The wait list was closed out an hour after that.
"I'm sure [consumers] are frustrated, we share their frustration," said Mass. Energy Secretary Ian Bowles.
The program, which uses federal stimulus money, was meant to encourage people to purchase new energy-efficient appliances.
“It’s good for consumers, good for the economy and good for the environment. The response was just tremendous. The only downside was I wish there could have been more money,” Jim Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
Participants were allowed to trade in older models, from dishwashers to washing machines and refrigerators, for rebates between $50 and $250 dollars.
It appears there will be no more federal money for the program, but there is good news for consumers: some retailers said they will run specials for disappointed customers. Other advocates are pushing for another tax-free day sometime in the summer.
The call center number for the program is 877-627-9271.
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