Insurer Nixes Payouts for Jeweler’s Snow Promotion

The insurance company has ruled: Snow way.

For its holiday promotion, Mundelein, Ill.–based P K Bennett Jewelers promised to refund all holiday purchases if snow hit three inches between midnight and noon on New Year’s Day. And when it did indeed snow that night, owner Rich Bennett was hopeful he could refund the $150,000 in purchases to the 220 customers who signed up.

And yet, after an agonizing four-day wait, the insurance company that underwrote the promotion told him that, based on its weather service’s reading at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, snow amounted to only 1.1 inches during the prescribed time period. Which means a lot of disappointed customers—as well as a disappointed jeweler.

“It didn’t quite work out the way we wanted it to,” Bennett says. “The problem is, some of the reports of 3.7 to 5 inches include the snowfall that happened before midnight. We can only look at the time frame of the promotion, which was midnight until noon.”

“I told the guy from the insurance company they got really lucky,” he continues. “The first wave of snow came before midnight and the second wave came before 6 a.m. If the first wave came later, we would have two inches during the night, and another two inches during the day. But the first wave came earlier than we thought.”

Still, Bennett isn’t giving up and is trying to get another reading from weather services.

“The insurance company has been open to the fact if we come up with traceable, outside information, they will look at that, see if something was off,” he says.

Bennett hopes to get a final verdict sometime in the next week. But he thinks the insurance company has played fair. 

“We have done other promotions with them,” he says. “Like they said to me, it’s great publicity for them when something like this hits. It gets other jewelers, other businesses interested.”

Some Facebook commenters were a little more suspicious.

“Relying on a nongovernmental entity to validate this kind of thing smacks of shady dealings,” one person wrote on the store’s page. “Is it not a conflict of interest to have a corporation hired by the insurance company be the entity to validate the snowfall?

But another said has similar readings: “You all bought beautiful jewelry that made someone very happy. Let that be the reward.”

A third shared a similar sentiment. “It’s a bummer, but it was a fun ride. Still loved the service I got from you guys and love the present I got for my wife. You are now the jeweler I will do all my shopping at. 

“Ninety-nine percent of our customers have been positive,” Bennett says. “Some were a little confused, and I had to help them understand how the whole thing works. The only negative comments on our Facebook page are from people who aren’t our customers.”

The possibility of a payout made worldwide news, and because of that, Bennett isn’t sure he would recommend the promotion to other jewelers.

“It’s not for the faint of heart, I’ll tell you that,” he says. “If you don’t like being the center of attention and being able to handle that, I would say no. I enjoy it, but when you get as close as we did, or even hit, and get the media attention that we got, you have to be prepared to talk to anybody and everybody about it. You need a real good staff at the store, like I have, to deal with regular business, because this will take up a lot of your time.”

Bennett had planned a big refund party if the promotion hit, and he still might do something special for his customers, once the weather clears up.

And he’s even willing to try the promotion again.

“It’s been pretty wild,” he says. “We have had a lot of fun with it. We came really close, and we got a lot of good publicity, people talking about us at New Year’s Eve parties. The insurance company got lucky this time. Maybe next time, we’ll get lucky.”

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JCK News Director