Do corporations really have such rules for employees?

Listening to Car Talk on the radio today I was surprised to hear this from a woman caller.
Her husband works for General Motors. She is required to drive a GM car. This car must not be more than 2 years old. She was asking advice on which car was best and if they should buy or lease.

I had no idea that a corporation would require the spouse of an employee to purchase a car of company make and to trade in every 2 years! This is asking a lot I think.

Is this true? Any of you ever had your boss make demands on you and your SO like this? How high up in the company must one be to face such requirements? How many types of companies do this sort of thing?
All you Dopers in the big bad world of business, educate me please. Thanks.

Oh, and she said she could drive a Saab. Does GM own Saab?

Don’t know about the rest of it, but GM does own at least a majority stake in Saab. That’s good if you want to take advantage of 0% financing right now; that’s bad if you are a paranoid type such as myself and don’t want OnStar. But that’s another matter…

Thanks johnson. Why are you against OnStar?
I thought it was just to get you out of a jam.

I know some one who worked for GMAC and yes, he had to drive a GM car (actually had to have a new one every 6 months or so, so would do an SUV during the winter months and a sporty one in the summer).

THis is not the case for all GM employees - for instance the rank and file line workers don’t have such requirements (I pass by their parking lots often and they’ve got all types there). As far as I know it’s only for folks pretty far up the food chain (tho car dealerships often give ‘employee’ discounts that make it adventageous for the employees to purchase their own products).

I would imagine that that most states require that companies provide all required materials that employees are required to use.

No way DPWhite,

Almost all retail, fast food, and chain stores require the purchase of a uniform.

Heh. I heard that call today, too.

There are requirements and there are “requirements,” you know? A GM executive might receive a “suggestion” that he and his wife should always drive late-model GM cars. It may not be in his contract, but it was probably made very clear that if he wants to keep his job, he better comply.

A friend’s dad owned a company that provided an important car component to GM. He didn’t work for GM. Nevertheless, he and his family “had” to drive GM cars. Apparently, it would have been very very bad for the business relationship if he purchased anything else. So that’s what he did.

I think in the case of the Car Talk caller, it was probably the same thing.

Yeah, that’s pretty old news in Detroit. I had a high school classmate in the 60s whose dad was a Ford engineer. He had an older Caddie when he was hired and saw no reason to part with it. They couldn’t force him to change to a Ford, but he was passed on a few promotions because he wouldn’t switch.

The rules probably get more intense the further up the food chain you go. My Dad (GM) had several co-workers who owned one cheap GM product that they drove to work and another Ford or Chrysler they used on their own time. Their wives drove whatever the family decided at each purchase. OTOH, my Dad was only a Senior Project Engineer. There were guys above him who did have to watch what they bought and what they bought for their wives.

I have never heard of anyone being fired for driving the wrong brand, (and Dad had several stories of rebels who insisted on driving their own off-brands to work), but those guys were pretty much guaranteed the same job until they chose to retire, since there was no way they would be promoted. (And when the layoffs started in the 70s, I’m sure they walked around with targets on their foreheads.)
(Brand loyalty is simply a good business decision that can get carried too far. If you want to talk about coercion, extortion, and general evil, look into the “contributions” that are demanded to keep the corporate United Way pledges up where some big shot calls for them to be.)

Appropos of nothing in particular, I used to work for an HMO that insured a lot of GM employees. When we sent people on field visits to the offices and plant, if the person who went was not driving an American car they would not be allowed to park on GM property. Which I always found hilarious, seeing how many GM components and cars are manufactured or assembled outside the country.


Depends on the employment relationship, and as you know many laws may be contracted around.

No lie. When I worked for Bell Labs, the United Way contribution form allowed you to designate your contribution for only specific charities. A coworker posted a USENET article in one of the local newgroups pointing out how the accounting actually worked should you check those boxes (the allocations were predetermined, and they just said, well YOUR money is counted towards THEIR allocation, then - it effectively did nothing). It wasn’t a critical or inflammatory article, it just calmly explained why checking the specific charity boxes didn’t accomplish what you might think. You would not BELIEVE the hot water he got in - he was told he wasn’t allowed to post to USENET anymore, yada, yada.

Supposedly, Coors brings a lot of pressure to bear to keep their employees from buying other brands of beer. I can’t substantiate that.

Saab - I bought an '87 and a '94. In '87, Saab was clearly its own company. When I bought the '94, it had GM “Value Pricing” or whatever it was. The deal is, GM bought about 50% of Saab in the late 80’s. The holding company which had the remaining interest in Saab allowed GM to run the company. About a year and half ago, GM bought the rest of Saab.

If you were a Ford exec, I suppose you could own a Volvo. Or a Jaguar, Land Rover, or even an Aston Martin. Ford owns all those marques now. As long as they don’t start putting Bridgestones on the Land Rovers.

You might well imagine that, but you’d be wrong.

As for OnStar, I have a very uneasy feeling about anyone (private company or government) knowing where my car is all the time, probably keeping that info in a database available to god knows who. Also, I try to limit the number of people who have their hands in my wallet for a fixed amount each month. And I know where I’m going, and if not, I can use Rand McNally for what, $13.95 for three or four years or until the pages start falling out. The only real benefit I see to OnStar is that it calls 911 if your airbags deploy. I don’t think it’s worth the tradeoff, however.

      • The Chrysler automotive plant near/in St Louis (Fenton) has done this before, sort of: employees who drove foreign cars had to park on a back lot, that was about 3/4 of a mile farther away from the building than the regular lot. I don’t know if they require it all the time, but I have seen news stories about employees complaining about the policy (what if somebody’s handicapped?).
  • Also, I am told that foreign cars (especially new ones) get vandalized a lot no matter where they’re parked. - MC

I don’t know about required to drive a GM car, but I’ve known two GM employees, who work on the GM line in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada who are given terrific incentives to drive GM vehicles. I understand that the incentive is something like 15% off dealer cost, but I cannot confirm that.

But as for required? No, they can drive any non-GM product that they please. As long as they can pay full price for it from a non-GM dealer. As a result, it’s no wonder they each drive GM cars.

My father is a retired GM employee. When I was a kid, he used to tell me stories about how foriegn cars in the parking lot would get damaged. Some to the point that they couldn’t be driven out of the lot.

My parents only owned one GM car the entire time I was growing up. A Buick my dad bought used to drive back and forth to work. (he worked for Oldsmobile) My family has always bought Fords. My dad said that non GM vehicles were frowned upon, but as long as it was an American car, you were OK.

He worked on the assemby line, so he never had to worry about it being required to buy GM. But I can see them requiring higher ups in the company to do it. I know I wouldn’t want to show up to a GM corporate meeting driving a Lincoln Navigator.:smiley:

My brother in in sales. (not cars though) He was told a long time ago to always drive an American car simply because you may run into someone who dislikes foreign cars - and no one will get mad at you for driving American. I think at many businesses company owned cars are always American but I guess now some companies will drive Hondas or Toyotas.

I even knew a girl once who would not even RIDE in a foreign car.

Something a lot of people don’t know is that just about everything the military uses is US made. That makes sense because they don’t want to be cutoff from foreign supplies during a war. Ironically when the Pentagon wanted a new programming language the contract to design it was won by a company in France - that’s who devoped the Ada language. The name Ada comes from Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. She worked on an early mechanical computer , doing “programming” for it.

I know a few guys at the GM Oshawa and Ste Therese plants and the higher up are encouraged to drive a GM car. I don’t know what the actual incentive is but it is VERY good for those people in that position. They others that I know who are not upper management drive whatever they want but again they do get some good incentives to drive GM product. Even as a “Supplier” to the auto industry I even get an incentive to buy their product.

Ford has their A-Plan & X-Plan prices which if i remember correctly the A-plan is actually below Dealer cost. (they do have certain hold backs and if you believe that they are not making ANY money you should read the thread about Idiots, Morons & Imbiciles).

If you work for a large company see if they have a ‘Fleet’ deal with any of the auto makers.

(slight Hi-jack)
If you are buying a new car in the near future try to deal with the Fleet manager for your vehicle. He usually works on a salary and is not AS dependent on sales commissions. The Fleet manager is also used to marking vehicles down to make a sale where Joe Salesman is not.
(end Hi-jack)

GM salaried employees, level 8 and higher, are required to own at least one GM vehicle that is less than two years of age. Yes, this is true.

In the auto industry, you should “drive what you build.” That’s why I drive a Ford Ranger instead of my thoroughly excellent, in-the-garage GM car (no, Ford doesn’t require this, but it’s the business after all).

Spouses aren’t required to drive the GM car – the requirement is the employee must own one. Heck, the employee can drive what s/he wants, too. Take a drive through the Tech. Center (if they still let you in) and see the different brands of cars there.

GM employees get very, very good discounts when leasing or purchasing GM vehicles from a dealer.

Level 8’s and above are required to drive a “PEP” car assigned by the company. For this, the company charges something like $100/month (thus making this not a taxable benefit).

<< When I was a kid, he used to tell me stories about how foriegn cars in the parking lot would get damaged. Some to the point that they couldn’t be driven out of the lot. >>

This is certainly not company policy. It’s undoubtedly the reaction of the strong “buy American” instincts amongst the blue collar employees.

Many years ago, executives at the car companies were given their cars free, and got a new car every six months. The company argued that these were “tests” of new features; the execs had to submit evaluation reports on them, etc. Consquently, the free cars were not viewed as taxable to the execs. That’s changed.

My brother used to work for Eagle Supermarkets and his union stated that if he bought anything at a non union supermarket (Winn Dixie was the favorite mentioned) he would get thrown out of the union.

And if you weren’t in th union you couldn’t work at Eagle.

I don’t work in the industry, but I used to drive by the St. Paul (Minnesota) Ford plant (where they make Ford Rangers) and they used to have employees that drive Fords park along Ford Parkway for everyone to see. The imports and non-Fords are parked further back (and actually closer to the plant - go figure). Obviously they want to put on a show for the passers-by.