The Great Giveback

Whatever we end up calling this recession/depression, I think we can safely name one small part of it: The Great Giveback.

There seems to be a rebate fever among firms trying hard to keep their customers happy, or keep their customers at all. JetBlue just announced it will give full ticket refunds to customers who lose their jobs. A few weeks back, Hyundai started letting buyers walk away from their purchases if certain “adverse life events” (including layoffs) intervened. (And it seems to be working.) And the Spanish firm Banco Santander has decided to compensate private clients whose money Santander invested with Bernard L. Madoff.

Discounts are one thing; every consumer these days has come to expect a discount. But a rebate: well, that’s a way to radically distinguish yourself from the competition and grab market share when brand loyalty is shaky, at best.

I would be very interested to hear from readers other examples of rebates being offered — and/or rebates that should be offered.


Now that sounds like a great plan.

No chance of it reaching the UK. More chance of our leadership actually legislating to prevent it.


how about a rebate for student's who just finished school only to find that a B.A. is worthless in the current market.

Francis W. Rodgers

Maybe we will return to the year of the customer. If you go back in time far enough you will find the phrase I loved: "The Customer is Always Right."


Amen to #2. People just walking out of college these days are getting screwed, big time. Massive loans to pay back, but jobs don't pay enough to support the cost of living along with the huge loan payments.

On the other side, some people aren't even able to get loans to go to college - loan companies are saying "no way". A college degree is so important. Loan companies should be saying "no way" to people wanting a $30k loan for a stupid car they don't need - NOT to people wanting a college education.



I think that's been the case for B.A.s since the Renaissance :p


Michelle, you contradict yourself. If a college degree is "so important" than you could use it to get a good job that could pay for it. Really a college degree isn't very important for most jobs. I won't get into my whole rant about it. But basically, people need to do a cost-benefit analysis and see if taking out $100,000 of student loans for that English Literature degree is actually going to be worth it.

David T

I have a business that has slowed down, but I believe people are using the "slow economy" as an excuse to ask for more discounts than normal. It seems to me that people now expect discounts and rebates for no reason other than they think they should always be able to get a better deal somewhere else. Are we going back to the old days where one has to haggle over every transaction?

Chris S

@ frank -

I'm graduating in May with a BS in Econ, but I'm avoiding the mess altogether. I'm leaving the country to teach English until the storm passes and/or I decide it's time for graduate school.

Who knows... maybe we've got it all wrong here, and I just won't ever come back...


I heard of a homebuilder in PA offering their clients the opportunity to live free for a year...

Scott W

Healthcare should do it -- enough bloat there, don't you think?

Walter Wimberly


I hope not. Many B.A.s are what people want to learn about (Literature, Music, General Studies, etc), not what the market needs (Engineering, Science, Accounting, etc.). The market is just trying to tell you this - as it has for years.

If you get a degree in something that is not worth while, you should be willing to live with your choice.


Botox injections (for the temporary treatment of wrinkles, of course) are sold by Allergan, Inc, who started a $50 rebate program a few weeks ago (per procedure). see link below. Allergan's main concern is that patients have expanded the time between treatments from about four or five months to about seven or eight months. This is a big loss in revenue. But perhaps they are also concerned with competition, as a company named Medicis will in a few months have FDA approval for a competitive botox product called Reloxin. Hey, there are many reasons why the wrinkle business could in theory do well in our current economy (as stress causes more wrinkles; as we try to look good for interviews), but will rebates really help this very discretionary purchase?? I, for one, doubt it.


Sounds like a great plan for those companies that can afford it... but I wonder if this can be seen as a form of deflation (assuming they're not able to recoup the costs via higher prices).

Eric M. Jones

So Hyundai will take back my car if I lose my job? Nice of them....Then I'll have no job and no transportation to get to another one.


Hyundai started letting buyers walk away from their purchases if certain “adverse life events"

This still amazes me. I have always been told that buying a new car is the worst investment you can make because the second you sign and drive it off the lot the car takes a huge loss in value.

Seems like Hyundai is willing to accept the drop in value and therefore willing to make poor investments now.

Joe D

Mike @6: Once upon a time, a BA (in just about anything) meant something. My grandfather (BC '38) had a BA in philosophy. It meant he could think critically, analyze a situation logically, make decisions and argue cogently for them, and recognize when someone else had a better argument.

What better qualification could there be for a manager? An MBA? Someone with a true liberal education can pick up job-specific information during a probationary period. No, he wasn't going to be an engineer with that degree, but he could do just about any business job with a little bit of specific training.


#16- Yes...Thank you!

I think part of the reason college degrees are worth less in than they used to be is because many educational institutions are so unwilling to flunk people out.


Ok so if I buy a Hyundai and lose my job, I can give it back. Hooray. Is that really that drastically different from the Repo Man just taking it back? It just sounds better. Sure Mr. Repo Man, here are my keys.

Avi Rappoport

The world is richer for having music majors, art historians and English lit students. Even (or especially) under repressive regimes, people find meaning in humanities.

I was a Medieval Studies undergrad, and loved it. I also learned how to analyze, think logically, and write clearly. Then I got a master's in Library and Information Studies, which was much more practical. They've both served me well as a tech writer, programmer, information architect, project manager and search engine consultant.

A thought

something just occurred to me. GUILT. Those who spend so much on getting a college education because you were sold a bill of good- only to find out you did not need it for the work you end up doing- Why then get one? A student asked me that question- His parents (father as it seems) have made it a requirement-- though (he tells me) he's going into the family business-- the student is a listener- I do hope he figures out why--- i.e., learns something for himself-- (including that maybe the family business is not for him- or if it is-- a college education may enable him to make the family business his own).

Always wondered about my dad's business- Being a student has enabled me to piece the why's of it together. So I can see the benefit.