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Clayton Homes wants its competitors to know that their "free furniture" offers aren't worth a hill of beans. Or, more precisely, a can of beans.
We all know times are tough for the homebuilders. Everyone from D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI ) to Lennar (NYSE: LEN ) to Pulte (NYSE: PHM ) has felt the squeeze, as the credit crunch has kept countless houses either unfinished or unoccupied. Desperate to fill their habitable homes, the builders are willing to give just about any gimmick a try.
But none of the homebuilders can hope to top what Clayton Homes has pulled off. The Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) subsidiary promises in an ad that if you buy one of its modular, manufactured, or mobile homes, you will get, as a bonus ... wait for it ... a free can of pork and beans.
That's right. Not just beans. Pork and beans. In tomato sauce, people. As Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up."
A contributor to The Consumerist spotted the ad in the Columbia Daily Herald, a newspaper in central Tennessee.
Fool writer Rich Duprey recently heard about this blockbuster deal and decided to investigate:
Apparently the guy who runs the local Clayton outfit in Columbia, TN, had a customer walk in and say a competitor was offering free furniture with their homes and wanted to know if Clayton would do the same. They declined saying it wasn't "free" furniture they were getting, that the price of the home was increased to pay for the furniture.
So to show that there is such a thing as a free lunch, Clayton bought a bunch of cans of beans from the local Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) and will give you one if you buy one of their modular homes.
In other words, if your mobile home was going to cost you $200,000, but the Clayton competitor threw in $10,000 worth of tables, chairs, and beer coolers, the new base price of the house would be $210,000 with a "free" furniture bonus. So does that mean that instead of listing at $200,000, Clayton's mobile homes are now going for $200,000.89, with "free" eats included?
Rich reports that the campaign has generated a good amount of publicity for Clayton. Whether it's been enough to get a potential homebuyer off the fence, however, remains unclear. But whatever you do, act quickly, because Clayton can only offer a deal this good through the end of the month. If you were reluctant to take out a 30-year mortgage on a house, clearly, now is the time to act.
Make your own jokes about why offering a free can of pork and beans for buying a mobile home in the rural South might entice consumers. I'm not going there. But my inner 12-year-old can't resist suggesting that at least Clayton didn't offer "free gas" with a home purchase.
What do you think about this amazing deal? Do you imagine Warren Buffett is off somewhere groaning in embarrassment? What other silly offers like this have you encountered? Could you do Clayton one better? Chow down, Fools -- whip out your can openers and spill the beans in the comments box below. Just don't talk with your mouth full.