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Hate Your New Pontiac? GM Might Take It Back

Times Staff Writer

As part of Detroit’s new marketing push to convince customers that the quality of domestic cars really has improved, General Motors and Chrysler are offering novel refund and exchange programs for buyers of some cars who return them within 30 days.

GM’s Pontiac division announced Wednesday that buyers of its 1989 Grand Prix models will be able to return their cars to their dealers within 30 days or before driving 3,000 miles, and will receive full credit on the car for the purchase of another Pontiac.

Pontiac has been test-marketing the program in California since March, and will now offer it nationwide, covering cars bought between Sept. 29 and Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Chrysler said this week that it has just begun test-marketing similar programs in the Washington, D.C., and Denver metropolitan areas.

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In Washington, Chrysler is offering a money-back guarantee for any buyer who returns a car after 30 days or 1,000 miles, while in Denver, the auto maker is offering credit for another purchase. Chrysler said the cars can be returned for any reason, as long as they have not suffered more than $300 damage.

“It’s pretty much no-questions-asked,” said Tom Jakobowski, a Chrysler spokesman. “If your wife doesn’t like the color, you can bring it back.” The Chrysler program will cover cars bought between Sept. 21 and Nov. 20.

Jakobowski said, however, that Chrysler has not yet decided whether to offer the program nationally.

Pontiac said it expects its new program to gain quick acceptance among consumers.

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The auto maker said its survey found that 85% of all households questioned would be more likely to consider buying a car that offered a guaranteed exchange program over a car covered by typical sales incentives, such as rebates or low-interest financing.

At the same time, the company said the refund offer doesn’t prompt large numbers of customers to return their cars to dealers. In its California test, Pontiac said less than one-half of 1% of the 3,000 cars covered by the program were returned.

The 30-day guarantee is part of the domestic auto industry’s larger push to market quality and safety to a much greater degree than ever before.


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