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This is what now counts for success in a government program.

“The value that the customer got for a lot of these vehicles was just a gift, no question,” said Scott Pundt, sales vice president for the Dorschel Group of Rochester, N.Y., the No. 4 dealership in the U.S. with 592 vehicles sold under the program. “We were appraising 220,000-mile vehicles that were really rough, and they were getting $3,500 or $4,500 for them.” Four out of five old cars turned in there exceeded 100,000 miles.

In at least 145 cases, mostly involving trucks, the government reported consumers traded old vehicles that got better than or the same mileage as the new vehicle they purchased. The government said it was continuing to investigate. A driver in Negaunee, Mich., traded a 1987 Suburban that got 18 mpg for $3,500 toward a new Silverado pickup that got only 15 mpg. An Indianapolis driver traded a 1985 Mercedes 190 that got 27 mpg for $3,500 toward a new Volkswagen Rabbit that got only 24 mpg. “It’s possible some quirky deal slipped through the cracks,” Anwyl said.

I want my money back, again.

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