Minn. appliance rebate money all gone, waiting lists closed too

1:00 PM, Mar 3, 2010   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The appliance rebate program that started Monday in Minnesota has officially run dry.

The State Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that all 25,400 appliance rebate reservations were claimed by 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. Clothes washer and dishwasher reservations were snatched up Monday night and freezer and refrigerator reservations were fully subscribed by Tuesday morning.

"Because of the higher dollar amount the rebates were also more limited so I think scarcity really increased the demand right away," Julie Warner of Warners' Stellian said.

Not only is the money gone, officials say the waiting lists have over 10,000 names on them.

"It was crazy, I must have called 100 times and got no response (on Monday)," Harold Thomas said. With his wife Phyllis by his side, Thomas was at Warners' Stellian searching for a new clothes washing machine. Harold said just after nine Tuesday morning he did manage to get on that waiting list.

The chance of actually getting that rebate? "So-so," Harold said with a chuckle.

High demand caused the phone and Web systems to crash minutes after the State launched the program Monday morning.
Dozens of would-be buyers called or emailed KARE 11, saying they couldn't get on to The Minnesota "Trade-in & Save" Appliance Program Web site or get through on a special phone line. The program was launched to help those waiting to upgrade one of their household appliances to something more energy efficient.

The Minnesota "Trade-in & Save" Appliance Program is financed with $5 million in federal stimulus dollars, which will pay for rebates on purchases of new refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and clothes washers. To qualify for the rebates the appliance must bear the federal government's current Energy Star rating.

Minnesotans currently on waiting lists may receive a rebate only if current reservations are not completed and submitted within the 30 day limit.

Nicole Garrison-Sprenger with the Department of Commerce said the wildly popular program didn't have the same response in most of the other states. "The way those states worked, there was kind of an initial surge and then that surge kind of died down and as of last week at least some of those states still had money," she said.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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