Now you've got no job? No problem!

April 23, 2009

This recession has witnessed the return of the piggy bank, the money-filled shoebox, the savings account. With employment dipping and credit tightening, people are not terribly keen to spend terribly much. So how are retailers going to wrestle away money from the hoarding hordes? The money-back guarantee, of course. According to this New York Times article, if you lose your job, JetBlue refunds plane tickets. Virgin Mobile USA will waive up to three months of cellphone charges. Walgreens will allow in-store clinic members to remain enrolled for free even if they lost their health insurance. The Minnesota Timberwolves will refund season tickets for basketball games not yet played. Builder Bigelow Homes will pay the mortgage while the homeowner is out job hunting. Sound too good to be true? Well, it's not, really--it's all possible because companies don't take a particularly big hit with these sorts of promotions. "The programs are not as expensive to companies as they might seem, retailing scholars said, since the offers are usually for a limited time and few people wind up taking advantage of the offers," Stephanie Rosenbloom writes in the NYT article. Companies offering the guarantees --  which often require documentation to verify job loss --  said they are a response to studies indicating more and more consumers are worried they might be laid off.