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.

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  1. Michael says:

    Now that sounds like a great plan.

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

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  2. frank says:

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

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  3. Francis W. Rodgers says:

    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.”

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  4. Michelle says:

    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.

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  5. Rob says:


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

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  6. Mike says:

    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.

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  7. David T says:

    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?

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  8. Chris S says:

    @ 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…

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