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Got Laid Off? You Might Still Be Able to Keep that Fridge

Nancy Trejos

If you’ve lost your job after making a big appliance purchase, you might be in luck.

Sears Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest appliance retailer, announced yesterday that it is launching a program that would modify payments for customers who have lost their jobs. The catch? They have to have bought at least $399 worth of merchandise with a Citibank Sears card.

The program runs from July 6 to Aug. 1. If the customer loses his or her full-time job at least 60 days after the date of purchase, one-twelfth of the purchase price will be credited to the account each month that he or she is unemployed. That credit will cover not just the appliance but related accessories, extended warranties, maintenance agreements and sales tax. If the customer is unemployed for more than a year from the date of purchase, he or she will receive a credit for the remaining purchase amount — and keep the appliance.

"Our customers have told us that even with the Sears best price guarantee, they have been deferring much-needed appliance purchases,” said Kevin Brown, vice president and chief marketing officer for home appliances at Sears. “With Sears’ Buyer Protection Program, customers can move forward with confidence and make a purchase knowing that if something unforeseen happens with a job, the [program] will credit their Sears account for that purchase and allow them to keep the appliance.”

It’s an interesting program, but not a completely altruistic one. The company needs to figure out a way to boost sales. In the quarter that ended May 2, the company had an 11.7 percent decline in sales at stores that had been open at least a year.

A few automakers took a similar approach this year. Customers who were out of work could return their vehicles and get some of their money back.

Have you heard of other similar programs? Let us know.

By Nancy Trejos  |  July 1, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Consumer News , Nancy Trejos  
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