Laid Off? Get a Refund!


Bought a car, joined a gym or made travel plans before you got your pink slip? You may be able to get a bailout. Attuned to the country’s growing unemployment problem, some companies are cutting a break for consumers who’ve recently lost their jobs.

Just ask my mom. She recently got let go from her company and managed to slash her local gym membership by $30 a month, the Comcast (Stock Quote: CMCSA) cable bill by $50 a month and her car insurance by $1,000 a year just by calling each sales rep and letting them know about her recent layoff.

Here’s a roundup of specific layoff deals we found. (Keep in mind that even if it’s not advertised, or a company doesn’t have a specific program, you should still call and ask for a refund wherever you’ve made a big ticket commitment, just like my mom did.) And in all cases, prepare to show proof, in writing, that your job was terminated.

Archstone-Smith. The property company agrees to let New York City renters who’ve signed or renewed a lease between March 2 and March 31 in one of its buildings a get-out-of-lease free card. The offer is part of the Archstone Lease Assurance Program and ends March 31.

YMCA and Fitness Centers. Participating YMCAs around the country are offering an “Out of Work Workout,” which may include a significant reduction in membership costs or up to three months free membership to existing members who’ve recently been laid off. For everyone else they may be able to score one month free. Check with your local branch. Also, if you’re a member of a private gym ask if they’ll cut you a break for recently losing your job, like my mom did. Maybe you can get out of your contract without a penalty, or receive a nice monthly discount.

Cultural Care Au Pair. As part of its “Peace of Mind Guarantee” the childcare program vows to offer a refund of the unused portion of the program fees and move the au pair to another host family, in the event of an involuntary job loss.

Hyundai. The auto company announced earlier this year that will let laid off buyers return vehicles purchased within the past year. The offer also applies to those who’ve become physically disabled, self-employed or gone bankrupt.

Jos. A. Bank. The nationwide men’s clothier (Stock Quote: JOSB) said it will give a $199 refund for suits bought prior to April 9 for customers who lose their jobs between April 16 and July 1. Don’t lose your receipt!

eCruises. The travel site now says you can cancel a booked cruise for a 100% cash refund if you’ve lost your job. The cancelation applies to everyone booked under your reservation. Just make sure you sign up for eCruises’ free comprehensive travel insurance when you make a reservation.

Minnesota Timberwolves. The NBA team agrees to give you a full refund on any unused season tickets if you lose your job this year.

Auto insurance. It’s not advertised widely but if you’ve been laid off and are using your car less you shouldn’t be paying the same amount for your car insurance. Call up your agent and explain you’re using your car less frequently since that will change how the insurance company underwrites your policy. To them, you’re technically not as high risk of a client, so you shouldn’t have to pay as much as before. The average cost for auto insurance in this country is roughly $800. If you can shave off even just 15%, that’s a potential $120 savings a year.

JetBlue. As part of its “Promise Program,” the carrier says it will fully refund ticket purchases for some customers who lost their jobs after booking a flight or vacation package. JetBlue’s (Stock Quote: JBLU) program ends June 1. You need to cancel the trip at least two weeks before the flight for a full refund. If you cancel later than 14 days prior to the trip you will instead receive JetBlue credit (minus the $100 cancellation fee) towards rebooking for a future date.



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