GM's Money Back Guarantee Comes With Lots Of Fine Print

GM’s new 60-day money back guarantee (good through November 30th, 2009) on new car purchases sounds pretty straightforward—if you don’t want the car for any reason (it doesn’t have to be a good reason), you can bring it back. But it has a few rules that you should be aware of before your purchase, notes the Associated Press.

The first one is that you actually only have a 30-day window in which to return the vehicle, because you can’t bring it back within the first 30 days. This is to increase the chance that customers will get over any buyer’s remorse and settle into accepting the car’s flaws over the first month of ownership.

The second, and more dangerous, rule is that the car can’t have more than $200 in damage, and GM gets to decide what constitutes damage. If you really decide you want to take it back, you’d better be extra careful with it during those first 30 days, and cross your fingers that GM won’t nitpick and find a way to disqualify the return.

You won’t get back any money you spent on add-ons, aftermarket equipment, or title and registration fees. Just the cost of the vehicle + sales tax.

The 30 day cooling off period doesn’t sound that terrible, although it’s mostly for GM’s benefit and not the customer’s. That the refund should only cover cost + taxes actually makes sense, because otherwise GM would be opening the door to unscrupulous retail renters.

What we find pretty alarming, however, is the $200 damage threshold. As the AP notes, “the cost of vehicle repairs – even small, cosmetic ones – can easily exceed $200,” and since you’re stuck with the car for 30 days even if you decide on day #2 to return it, you’re going to have to hope nothing happens until the return window opens. The one saving grace to this rule is that repairs covered by warranty are excluded from the $200 cap, fortunately. Still, we’d park that new vehicle in a garage and not touch it for the rest of the month just to be on the safe side.

“U-Return? GM’s refund promise has some stop signs” [Associated Press]