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GM Offering "Free" Cars
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DETROIT, Michigan - After what it calls a "very successful pilot program", General Motors announced Friday that it will roll out its "free car" program nationwide. "You’ve seen companies offering free printers, even free computers. We’re taking that model to the next level and offering the consumer a free car, free truck, any vehicle in the GM family absolutely free," said GM National Marketing Vice President Bob Blaxon. Like the other programs Blaxon mentioned, GM’s products must be paid for, then the consumer is reimbursed via mail-in rebate, typically in 6-12 weeks.

"The rebate request process is designed to be difficult to do correctly."
-- Carl Zacrosse, consumer financing consultant
"Unlike printers, cameras or shoes, most people don’t have ready access to the 20 or 30 thousand dollars necessary to pay for a vehicle," explained GM financing specialist Larry Kaye, "So we’ve had to work out how to allow the consumer to take advantage of this offer. We finance the vehicle for the consumer through GMAC Financing, then the consumer submits a monthly rebate request after they make their payment." When asked about the percentage of consumers actually reimbursed during the pilot, Kaye replied, "It was a very successful program for us, but we don’t normally discuss specifics of such initiatives with the press."

"I’m not surprised they don’t want to discuss it," responded Carl Zacrosse, consumer financing consultant with Chase Manhattan Bank, "Nationwide estimates across all retail sectors suggest that only 10% of rebates are ever redeemed. Not only are consumers too lazy to bother with them, but the rebate request process is designed to be difficult to do correctly. Demanding information on 3 1/ 4" by 6" index cards, in red ink, left-handed, etc, etc, they go out of their way to make it next to impossible. And with the amounts GM is obligating themselves for, the process must be arduous indeed."

All consumers participating in the pilot signed a non-disclosure agreement with GM and so are unable to comment on the record about their experiences. The consensus among those we spoke to is that the rebates are quite difficult to obtain. "I tried for 6 months to get my first month’s payment refunded," said Mandy Neusome, who asked to remain anonymous, "But who has a number 2 7/8 pencil? I tried a number 2, and a number 3, but they were both rejected. I love my car, and I hate stress, so I gave up."

"The equipment we use to process the rebates is very precise," said Blaxon, "So it isn’t surprising that Ms. Neusome’s inadequate attempts were rejected. But I assure you that anyone putting forth a good faith effort to comply will be given their rebate. Am I spelling ‘Neusome’, correctly, by the way? With an ‘E’?"

A list of dealers participating in the program is available on GM’s web site.
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