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Where's My Free Golf Cart?

Did you bite on the free golf cart deal late last year and now wonder what happened to your $6,500? Colin Reilly of FreeElectricCar.com heavily advertised his deal for a free golf cart (after tax credit) late last year, promising buyers that they'd get their street-legal golf cart in 10 to 12 weeks.

What's a "street-legal" golf cart? One that has a Vehicle Identification Number, seat belts and rear-view mirrors and is certified by the IRS.

The free golf cart deal was thanks to Uncle Sam, which offered massive federal income tax credits for those who bought "low-speed neighborhood vehicles" before the end of 2009. (This credit has since morphed into a tax credit for Tesla electric sports cars.) Reilly's company opted to capitalize on the credit by building a street-legal golf carts, with huge batteries (better to get a bigger tax credit with, my dear) on the cheap with subcontractors working in China and Korea.

But the deal made many people understandably nervous because they were paying for their golf cart some 12 weeks before they expected to receive it. Even though every order had to be made before year-end 2009 -- that's some 14 weeks ago by my count -- most people still haven't received their golf carts.

Where are they? I called Reilly this week to find out. He apologetically said they have delivered about 5,000 of them, but have another 15,000 to go. The hold up? They just received considerably more orders than they expected and a whopping 25% of the orders came on New Year's Eve, Reilly said.

"These people would call and say they just heard about it. You could hear the party in the background," Reilly told me. "It was like drinking through a fire hose."

The company also promised door-to-door delivery, which has turned out to be complicated, he said. At 12 carts per truckload, they've got trucks headed to all points of the compass. They've been shipping out roughly 500 carts per week, but the backlog is still substantial, Reilly added.

So far, he said, buyers have been gracious about the delay. He maintains that everyone should have their carts by mid-June.

Have you received one? I'd love to hear from you.

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