You know those ignition switch recalls you've been hearing so much about? If you own a car affected by those recalls, General Motors would really like for you to bring it in for repairs. Like, now.
Despite the fact that GM issued the recalls months ago, and despite the attention the recalls have gotten in the media, a surprising number of drivers haven't yet bothered to have their cars fixed. A total of 2.59 million GM vehicles are included in the recall, but only about half -- 1.27 million -- had been repaired as of October 27.
And so, GM is issuing $25 gift cards to entice owners to bring in their cars for repairs. According to GM's Ryndee Carney, 700,000 owners whose cars still need to be fixed began receiving brochures about the gift card program last week.
If you're in that number, you have until December 1 to complete your repairs at a GM dealership. When you do so, you'll receive a special code that allows you to go online and select one of seven companies where you can claim your gift card reward: Amazon, AMC, Applebee’s, Bass Pro Shops, Red Robin, Starbucks, and Walmart. You'll receive the card in the mail within two to four weeks.
On the other hand, if you've done the responsible thing and already had your car fixed -- or at least ordered parts and scheduled repairs -- sorry, you're out of luck. This time around, the early bird doesn't get the worm.
The gift card program seems like a good move for GM.
First and foremost, it encourages people to have a very important safety defect fixed. GM's ignition switch flaws have already been linked to some 30 deaths, and the number could climb significantly higher before the December 31 deadline to file claims arrives. Getting owners to repair their vehicles keeps them and others on the road safe.
The program may also boost GM's repair rate. For a typical recall, around 75 percent of owners have their cars fixed, but in the case of older models like the ones on GM's ignition list, the repair rate can be significantly lower. This could improve that rate.
Third, it's a great PR move. Though GM's sales continue to chug along, the company has had to dodge a number of slings and arrows, both in the press and on Capitol Hill. An initiative like this reassures the public that GM really wants consumers to be safe.
And last but not least, the program could save GM money. Even if each of the 700,000 brochure recipients takes GM up on its gift card offer, the program will only cost the company around $17 million. That seems like a hefty chunk of change, but it pales in comparison to the fines and legal fees that GM could pay out for new injuries and deaths linked to the ignition switch problem -- to say nothing of the bad press GM would need to counter.
If you own one of the vehicles included in GM's ignition switch recall, do the right thing and take it in for repairs. You can find a complete list of recalled vehicles at GMIgnitionCompensation.com or on this PDF.