It offers rebates of anywhere from $50 to $1,000 for the purchase of energy efficient appliances. The number of questions we have received about the program has increased, and so has the apparent frustration among consumers.
Patricia McMahon of San Rafael bought an energy efficient washing machine under Cash For Appliances and looked forward to getting her $100 rebate.
"I was kind of happy. It sort of defrayed some of the cost," she said.
McMahon sent in her rebate form, but the post office sent it right back, marking it "return to sender, unable to forward."
"I kind of thought, did I have the right address? Did I put a wrong P.O. Box on it?" she wondered. "I took it out, I double checked it, everything was right."
McMahon could not get an explanation so she called 7 On Your Side. We talked to the California Energy Commission. It runs the rebate program and has received dozens of similar complaints.
"We're working with the post office to make sure that consumers can send in their application as quickly as possible," said Amy Morgan with the California Energy commission.
The post office is admitting fault. Via e-mail it told us, "The local post office is working with the USPS Central Forwarding System to determine the issue and correct it."
However, not all returned applications can be blamed on the post office. Some were returned for insufficient postage.
"There's five pieces of application and supporting documents that's needed for this program, and consumers should check with their post office to make sure they have adequate postage on their application," said Morgan.
Donna Hart of Pleasanton wrote us about a different frustration. She has been "unable to contact California Cash For Appliances by phone or e-mail." Many callers are getting a busy signal.
"The energy commission acknowledges some of the issues with the call center and we've done some improvement so that consumers can get through to the call center," said Morgan. "We've added additional staff and additional lines."
It has also set up a special e-mail address: email@example.com
Finally, John Pallavicini of Danville says his rebate was denied even though his refrigerator is on the approved list.
"We have received over 100,000 applications and we acknowledge that there's been errors in the program," said Morgan.
Pallavicini confirms he has now received his check. In fact, more than half the $32 million allocated to the rebate program has been given out, but $14 million still remains on a first come, first serve basis.