Most people, including competitors, probably hope the new General Motors employee-discount incentive is a smashing success, especially if it's an intermediate step away from cash-on-the-hood incentives.
Nearly four years after lighting the incentive fuse with "Keep America Rolling," GM has found it tough to stop. North American sales honcho Mark LaNeve says GM will move toward sticker prices that are closer to transaction prices as a way of getting off the runaway incentive train.
That's what it looks like the new program will begin to do.
But maybe, just maybe, GM is stepping into a bigger hole here.
In an era when fat people sue fast food restaurants, you just know some lawyer some place will get the bright idea that giving consumers what amounts to an employee discount entitles them to other employee benefits.Like health care. And maybe even a pension.
You think GM has a legacy cost issue now? Just wait until next month, when the 500,000 people who bought cars and trucks this month (OK, I admit I'm being a bit bullish) come back demanding dental!
I can see it now: along with the J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, new-car buyers will get notification from a pack of lawyers that they, too, can join a class action lawsuit to make greedy, deep-pocketed General Motors cough up medical benefits.
And every new GM owner who needs to get a hernia fixed or a mole removed will consider it part of the deal.
There's no telling what will happen if the case gets to court. Can't you just imagine tearful witnesses describing their maladies to sympathetic jurors while heartless GM execs squirm on the stand, claiming they only wanted to sell cars and save the business?
Some say the best way to relieve the health-care cost burden on U.S. companies is to move to a single-payer system. But I always thought that meant the government, not GM.
If this program doesn't work, maybe next month GM should just give away coupons for health care and make everybody happy.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at