In a bold effort to generate sales of new automobiles and light trucks, Chrysler Corp. yesterday introduced -- for the first time in U.S. auto history -- a money-back guarantee for dissatisfied customers.
Moreover, Chrysler will expand nationwide its experimental offer of $50 to persons who test-drive a Chrysler vehicle and will offer free scheduled maintenance service for two years or 24,000 miles (one year or 12,000 miles for imports). The $50 offer has been tested by Chrysler in five cities.
Chrysler Chairman Lee A. Iacocca said these promotional efforts will be part of a package called "The Chrysler Guarantees," to be offered starting Jan. 31 by all dealerships who decide to participate.
Iacocca said the marketing effort will continue for an unspecified but limited time, "to help us increase our share of the market," currently less than 10 percent of U.S.-manufactured vehicles. Congress approved last year up to $1.5 billion of government loan guarantees to help struggling Chrysler regain its financial strength.
Under the money-back guarantee program, generally in use only for smaller consumer products, any unsatisfied customer may return a new car within 30 days or 1,000 miles of use, whichever comes first, and receive a refund for the total purchase price plus license and title fees.
If a buyer took out an auto loan, any interest paid also will be refunded by the company, which is the third-largest U.S. car manufacturer. One auto analyst called the money-back promise a "gutsy" move by Iacocca and a company executive said "it's a daring strategy but these are daring times."
Chrysler also announced yesterday that buyers of its cars will get a free membership in an auto club for two years. No club was announced but industry sources said it is the Amoco Motor Club.
The company had no estimate of how much its offer of free maintenance will cost. The test-drive payment will be made to any customer who buys a U.S.-made car after test-driving a Chrysler product, even if the purchased car is not manufactured by Chrysler.