Try a GM car for 60 Days. If you don’t like it, we’ll just call you up and ask why

GM’s 60-day return offer will close out at the end of November. The message – may the best car win – would be a good way to re-introduce GM to the American people. But the New GM looks a lot like the Old GM: “no strings attached” apparently doesn’t include red tape.

GM offered new car buyers a chance to try out a GM vehicle for what it presented as an extended test drive. Come in, get a GM vehicle, try it for 60 days, and if you don’t like it, you can bring it back. At least, that was the idea.

But click through to the Details and Limitations, and you’ll discover why less than 0.1 percent of consumers who bought a car through this program returned it. To return the car successfully you must have kept it for at least 30 days and “Your Eligible Vehicle must have no more than $200 of damage as determined by GM or GM’s agent. Such damage may include, without limitation, internal or external scratches, scrapes, dents, odors, rips, burns, etc.”

So that’s at least 30 days of wear and tear, and GM gets to decide whether the scratches and “odors” that your car has accumulated in that time cost more than $200, based on criteria it did not disclose. Oh, and “GM’s agent” that does those return inspections is GM’s insurance company.

Don’t like the assessment that the GM inspector made of how much damage has been done to your car? You’ll have to take it up in arbitration. Then a company of GM’s choosing will make a determination about whether the inspection has been conducted fairly.

Oh, and if you did manage to jump through the hoops and return the car, the global VP for engineering will personally call you and ask why.

This is no way to re-introduce GM to the American people. Unless the message is: We’re still the same company.

Lena Pons is a transportation policy analyst for Public Citizen.

Flickr photo by cobalt123.