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Consumer Bailout? Ford, GM, and Walgreen Incentives Offer Helping Hand to Unemployed

For consumers out there angry at big business and bailouts in general, Ford, GM, and Walgreen are taking some high-profile steps to try to get back in their good graces, while at the same time perhaps making good business moves. The L.A. Times reports that GM and Ford, on one hand, are offering to make car payments for certain customers who lose their jobs. Walgreen is also reaching out by offering free clinic visits to the unemployed and uninsured for the year, providing tests and routine treatment for minor ailments, according to the AP. On the business side, the plans hope to increase slumping sales for the car makers (Korean car maker Hyundai had success with a similar plan), while the Walgreen clinics hope to increase their visibility and referrals.

The Walgreen offer applies to its in-store Take Care clinics and covers "respiratory problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other ailments." This saves uninsured customers the typical cost of such treatment, which amounts to $59 or more. The "GM Total Confidence" plan offers to make up to $500 worth of payments for 9 months for car purchasers if they get laid off within two years of purchasing their car. The "Ford Advantage" plan, announced a few hours earlier, offers 12 months of payments at a maximum of $700. The GM plan also offers "to protect customers against uncertainty in the future used car market".

As noted, each of the offers has its own limits and conditions. The car makers' plans apply to prospective buyers. Meanwhile, the free visits at Walgreen are offered only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Walgreen is not providing free prescriptions, either. Further, free checkups, vaccinations or other injections are not being offered, as the clinics are focusing on treatment more akin to an urgent-care facility.

All of the programs, of course, will require proof of unemployment usually involving federal or state unemployment forms.