Appliance rebate program overwhelmed

HOUSTON Throughout the day on the state comptroller's Twitter account 'PowerfulSmart' you could see the money in the program being scooped up and then, at 2:23pm the big announcement -- "all Texas appliance rebates have been reserved."

The website crashed and the phone line was busy. That's what consumers are telling us and now all the rebates have been spoken for.

There was unprecedented response to the reservation program -- approximately 2,400 web hits per second and about 1,000 calls per minute, according to the Texas Comptroller's office.

We talked with several Houston residents who say they began trying to get a rebate right at 7am and they still don't have one.

The state's rebate website was down almost from the first moment the rebates were available. Instead of getting a rebate, most who used the web saw error messages.

The phone line did not offer any better results. We spoke with several people today who say they had been calling and calling and had yet to get through to someone who could reserve their rebate.

"I will try sporadically throughout the day, but I am not going to sit here for two and a half hours straight like I did this morning like a madman with two phones as fast as I could hit the redial and get a busy signal and hang up, no," said consumer Cary Shanks.

"We understand the difficulties many experienced getting into the reservation system, and we appreciate the patience of Texans who tried to call in or go online a number of times before getting their rebate reservations," said Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.

The rebates were going out all day, and, as we said, as of 2:30pm, all the rebate money has been claimed. That is not sitting well with some who wonder how the rebates can be going out when you can't get into the site.

The Comptroller's office says they will also investigate what appears to be a web attack that may have flooded the online reservation system early in the day, using nearly 75 percent of the available capacity. Texans reserved 38,864 guaranteed rebates. Of that total, 32,283 reservations were reportedly made online and 6,581 over the phone.

"Regrettably, we were only given approximately $23 million to implement and administer the rebate program in a state of this size, and there were some people who were not able to get through in time to reserve a guaranteed rebate," Combs said. "

We've heard from many frustrated viewers on our website and Facebook page, but have you gotten through to reserve your rebate? If so, we'd like to hear from you.

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