Honda offers a $1000 rebate to anyone who purchases one of their vehicles and has it specially adapted for handicap operation. A thousand dollars cash back is a good incentive to buy a vehicle, especially one which had all of the criteria one needed. At any rate, Honda offer the rebate and it was one of the factors in my deciding to purchase my vehicle.
I got a call from Honda today (1/18/2013) explaining that they were not going to give me the $1000 rebate I’d applied for because the VA was paying for the conversion of the vehicle, and not I. It wasn’t like I had insurance money paying for it, or it was bought with cash or a bank loan, I had the VA supporting my purchase and that disqualified me. There was no discussion, as a matter of fact she was terse and abrupt, and hung up on me before I could make any inquiries.
Wow. That was an interesting experience. It made me wonder a whole bunch of things, like, why would it be important to Honda what the ultimate source of the purchase price was? Their offer suggested that ’if you buy our vehicle and have it modified for disabled access, we’ll give you a thousand bucks.’ It seems to me that they should have displayed a list and said ‘if you’re using one of these methods to supplement your purchase, you may be eligible for a $1000 rebate.’ Then again, what difference should it make to them where the money comes from, so long as it’s a legitimate source of income.
The VA keeps very close track of what benefits they pay to veterans. They list them in terms of the dollar benefits they dispensed. In some cases they give money to me and I dispense it as I see fit, in other cases they give me money for a specific thing, like a specially adapted vehicle, paying for the item in my name. To the VA, there is no difference between the monetary payments they make to me and the payments they make for me. It’s so odd that Honda would take the position they do. Let’s say that I saved up the full amount for the vehicle from my monthly disability payment. I scrimp and save for a number of years until I have the full purchase price and I go in and buy their car. In that case, even though my income was from VA benefits, they would still honor the rebate offer because in their interpretation I had paid personal cash. It absolutely takes my breath away that they would develop the policy they did, because it absolutely targets veterans who are using their earned specially adapted vehicle benefit to support their purchase. I am definitely being denied their offer in a discriminatory way.
It more makes me disappointed than angry because it points clearly and exclusively to disabled veterans whose only source of support are the benefits paid them as a part of their military compensation package. This IS our insurance, yet Honda seems to think it different. I don’t mean to be melodramatic –okay, I do a little, but we vets paid for our insurance with disability, pain, physical loss and blood but that doesn’t have the same value to Honda.
I like the vehicle. It seems well made and up to its promises in terms of comfort, handling and performance. I don’t see the gas mileage the claim, I get somewhat fewer miles per gallon than they say I should but I write that off to YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), the universal disclaimer. This vehicle was one of three that I was considering when I got ready to buy, and for its features and price, I picked the Odyssey. The rebate was, of course, part of the price point and was discussed as if a done deal through the negotiations. The policy against giving a rebate to VA purchasers was news to the dealership, which is adjusting their sales pitch. They had never seen any of the other car companies refuse rebates; you buy the car and have it modified for handicap access, you get the money. Bing, bang, boom.
The loss of the rebate isn’t going to kill me. I had it earmarked for some stuff that will just have to wait. But in spite of liking the car I am going to feel a certain level of discomfort owing to the manufacturer’s stance on veteran benefits. Had I known of this policy in advance, I think I’d have bought one of the other vans I was considering, simply out of solidarity with my fellow disabled vets. Live and learn, I guess.