Lose Your Job, Keep Your Car (and New suit)

More and more companies are willing to cover your payments or even let you keep an item for free if you lost your job and can't make payments.

General Motors and Ford are among the businesses offering special deals to the soon-to-be-unemployed. The struggling automakers announced Tuesday that they would make car payments for customers who lose their jobs.

Ford will cover payments of up to $700 a month for up to a year on any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury. The monthly payment guarantee program runs until June 1. GM's new CEO said the company's Total Confidence program will make up to nine car payments of up to $500 each for customers who are laid off.

AutoNation will also make car payments for up to six months for buyers who lose their jobs.

The companies are just the latest to use the guarantees to boost sales.

Business consultant Michael Silverstein called the new development "altruism marketing." Silverstein told USA Today that payment guarantee plans are "a powerful way to say, 'We care,'... I expect to see a lot more of it over the next 90 days."

The automakers aren't the only ones extending the offers. Walgreens drug stores will offer customers using its in-store health clinics free family services for the rest of the year if they have lost their jobs.

"We're doing it because it's the right thing to do," said Hal Rosenbluth, president of Walgreens Health and Wellness division.

Meanwhile, JetBlue airlines is waving flight-cancellation penalties (up to $100 per ticket) for customers who are out of work. And Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, the men's clothing chain, will refund the purchase price of its $199 suits -- and let customers keep the duds -- if they lost their jobs.

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