Cash for Clunkers-style trade-in deals turning up in other businesses

It sounds surreal, but it's true: Private industry is rushing to adopt the marketing strategy of the federal government.

Companies of all stripes in the Sacramento area and nationwide are now putting their own spin on the government's Cash for Clunkers program, offering trade-in deals on furniture, computers, appliances, hearing aids and just about every other item that can be sold.

Their motivation is simple the possibility of big sales in short order. Cash for Clunkers generated about 700,000 new car sales during its run from July 27 to Aug. 24.

Page through any newspaper, and you can't miss the theme replicated in ad after ad. The promotions pepper the Web as well.

Lathrop-based Service Star Heating & Air Conditioning this week urged consumers to "turn your old clunker furnace and air conditioner into cash." The ad played up a federal government tax rebate of up to $1,500 to encourage homeowners to replace old heating and air units.

Another ad in The Sacramento Bee touted a Cash for Clunkers-style trade-in program for hearing aids. McDonald Hearing Aid Centers throughout the area this week are offering $250 to $1,000 for trading in a "clunker" hearing device toward "a new 2009 model."

A Google search of "cash for" possibilities turned up scores of similar clunker promotions being offered by businesses from coast to coast.

The clunker mimics included: Cash for Computers, Cash for Teakettles, Cash for Couches and Cash for Refrigerators (joined by two appliance cousins, Funds for Freezers and Dough for Dishwashers).

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