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Businesses offer job-loss forgiveness programs

Posted April 7, 2009

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— Some companies are trying to spur sales in a bad economy by offering deals where they temporarily make payments for customers who have lost their jobs.

Many car companies have been advertising this program and others similar to it.

Financial planner Gerald Townsend said the offer is “no doubt a marketing gimmick” in an effort to boost sales, but the program has pros and cons.

“The folks who are working at some of the big companies (that) have made the news about possibly having to make cutbacks, I think, they’re holding back on making some major purchases, such as a new car,” said Bill Shotwell, who owns Saturn dealerships in Raleigh and Cary.

Saturn's program is open to people purchasing cars between April 1 - 30. The program requires a person to be unemployed for three months and accepted for unemployment benefits. Saturn's parent company, GM, has information about the program on its Web site.

A similar program at Ford offers financing up to $700 a month for no more than 12 months for those purchasing a vehicle from April 1 to June 1.

These programs are essentially insurance policies and may not work for everyone, Townsend said.

“Do your homework, and certainly don’t let this be the deciding factor,” Townsend said.

A sign on display at a local Saturn dealership. Companies offer layoff-proof programs

While car companies are getting most of the attention, real estate companies have also been using the strategy.

Cary apartment complex Legacy Crossroads is offering a layoff-proof lease program. If renters lose their jobs, they get two months of free rent and can get out of their lease.

“It has some risk factors, but I think that was a risk we were willing to take,” Legacy Crossroads property manager Tonya Forster said.


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