updated 10/20/2009 5:29:12 PM ET 2009-10-20T21:29:12

Just a tiny fraction of General Motors customers have returned their cars for refunds under the automaker's heavily advertised money-back guarantee program — and most buyers aren't even choosing to participate in the plan, opting for a rebate instead.

About 400 vehicle buyers, or "less than 1 percent" of sales since the program launched, have signed up for GM's 60-day money-back guarantee program, spokesman Tom Henderson said Tuesday. The rest took a $500 rebate, he said.

Of those 400 vehicles, just 15 have been returned in the four days since customers could begin doing so, Henderson said.

GM launched the money-back guarantee program on Sept. 14 with an advertising blitz, including TV spots starring GM Chairman Ed Whitacre, in a bid to get on-the-fence vehicle buyers to consider GM products after its stint in bankruptcy court this summer.

The program runs through Nov. 30 and allows customers to return any new 2009 and 2010 Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC or Buick vehicle for a refund of the purchase price and sales tax if they are unsatisfied with their vehicle.

The policy allows buyers to return their vehicle between day 31 and day 60 of ownership, meaning the first refund requests started coming in on Thursday. Reasons for the returns have been "across the board," Henderson said.

One returnee was the buyer of a Chevrolet Corvette, who bought the sports car with a manual transmission and found it "painful to shift," GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told reporters during a briefing last week. Once the buyer returned the Corvette, he wound up exchanging it for the same model — but with an automatic gear box, instead.

The return had nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the car other than the choice of transmissions, Lutz said.

"He brought it back because he made a mistake," he said.

A report Monday by CNW Research said the program has been successful in getting consumers to consider buying GM products. The program has "spiked interest in the company's products far beyond any recent previous effort," the research firm said.

___

AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher contributed to this report from Detroit.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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