Appliance Rebate Money Depleted in Less Than Three Hours

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Roughly 27,000 appliances were sold, depleting the state's $3 million in appliance rebate funds in just a little over two hours. The program generated $25 million in sales for Illinois retailers. (Published Friday, Sep 24, 2010)

    The early bird really got the worm Friday.

    Illinois residents who weren't at stores when they opened Friday morning to take take advantage of a rebate program for energy-efficient appliances most likely found themselves out of luck. 

    Roughly 27,000 appliances were sold, depleting the state's $3 million in appliance rebate funds in just a little over two hours.  The program generated $25 million in sales for Illinois retailers.

    "This made Black Friday look like a Tuesday in July," Illinois Retail Merchants Association President David F. Vite said in a statement.  "Sales have never been so brisk in Illinois."

    Under the program, shoppers were able to snag a 15 percent instant rebate up to $250 when they purchased Energy Star appliances, including dishwashers and refrigerators.

    As funds ran out, an Oak Brook Sears store continued to honor the 15 percent discount for anyone who was already in line.  Everyone else was offered a 5 percent discount.

    Allison Bell's washer was ruined when her Westchester house flooded this summer. She was among over 300 waiting in line.

    "Clothes are piling up by the minute," she said.  'We have no choice to wait."
     
    Some of the deals were so good, people bought items that weren't on the rebate list.

    "We came in for a refrigerator," said Gloria Wagner. "We wound up getting a stove."
     
    With the rebates and store discounts, Jim McManus wound up getting more than a 30 percent discount.

    "It's a pretty good deal," he said.
     
    Store manager Shari Hansel was in early to make sure the rebate program ran smoothly.

    "It was exciting, our second-best day," she said.  "Come back after Thanksgiving."

    Most of the rebates were given out at the counter, but retailers also made them available by phone to people with disabilities.

    Gov. Pat Quinn said the program boosts business and helps the environment by reducing energy consumption. He spoke Sunday at a Chicago home improvement store.

    Similar rebates were offered last winter and this spring and their funds ran out quickly.

    The program was sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Illinois received a total of $12.4 million through the program for the ENERGY STAR rebate program.

    EnergySavers.gov: Illinois Appliance Rebates