Hoffman Estates, Ill. - For a limited time, Sears will allow customers who lost their jobs after purchasing a major appliance with a Sears credit card to suspend payments and, in some cases, keep their purchases.
The offer will be available to consumers who buy appliances and related delivery, installation and repair services totaling more than $399 between July 6 and Aug. 1, and lose their jobs within two months to one year of the purchase.
One-twelfth of the purchase price will be credited their Sears credit card accounts for every month they are out of work, and the full debt will be forgiven for those unemployed over a year, Sears said.
The trial program, which follows similar debt-forgiveness offers by auto makers, will be coupled with Sears' ongoing 15 percent-off sales promotions on appliances.
"Our customers have told us that ... they have been deferring much-needed appliance purchases, said Sears' chief marketing officer Kevin Brown. "With Sears' buyer protection program, customers can move forward with confidence."
The majap industry downturn, which remains in lockstep with the ravaged housing market, is now entering its third year. According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), factory unit shipments of white goods fell 17.4 percent in May after nearly 24 months of successive monthly declines, while Best Buy reported a 20 percent drop in comparable appliance sales during its first quarter, ended May 30.
The debt-forgiveness program will be managed by Citigroup, which issues Sears' private-label credit card. Customers will be able to file their claims at www.searsbuyerprotection.com.