NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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April 22, 2010

Appliance program hits glitches, runs out of rebates

BOSTON — BOSTON (AP) — A program aimed at convincing consumers to trade in energy-sucking appliances for more miserly ones proved too popular for the state’s computer system Thursday, crashing a server officials had boasted would be ready for the task.

The 10 a.m. Earth Day launch of a $6.6 million program aimed at ridding the electrical grid of old dishwashers, refrigerators, clothes washers and freezers immediately caused a jam on the phone number consumers needed to dial for a necessary rebate reservation.

And things were initially no better online, where people clicking on a designated web site found the message, “Access is denied. You do not have permission to view this directory or page using the credentials that you supplied.”

An hour after the program launched, the state announced an alternate web site: https://www.maswap1.com. It appeared to work as intended.

A spokeswoman for the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said the state had been in touch with the web site operator in the interim.

“Our phone lines are jammed from the call volume,” said spokeswoman Lisa Capone. “We are advising people to keep trying ... and thanking them for their patience in the meantime.”

The call center number is 877-627-9271.

The programs offers the rebates on a first come-first serve basis.

Buyers can receive a rebate of up to $250 for dishwashers, $200 for refrigerators, $175 for clothes washers and $50 for freezers.

But consumers hoping to take advantage of the program must get a reservation number and rebate forms must be returned by June 19.

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