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Free Hot Tub for Christmas?

December 27th, 2010 by

Not sure if they won….but I think it was close.

I’ll keep you “posted”.

Jerry

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Weather Contests Entice Shoppers

Sunday, December 26, 2010  02:58 AM
By Peter Mucha

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

free-hot-tubLarry Granger, president of West Chester Spas, stands outside his store in Pennsylvania and shows off a spa adorned with a banner describing the weather deal.
About eight years ago, Roxann Dulce came oh so close. Another quarter-inch of snow on Christmas Day, and Anthony Jewelers in Palmyra, N.J., would have refunded her and all of its other customers the cost of purchases made Thanksgiving weekend.

This year, the Palmyra financial controller has a hunch that she will win — just as she predicted the Giants would beat the undefeated New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl. New York did win, in a nail-biter.

So on the Saturday after Thanksgiving this year, Dulce walked down the street to Anthony Jewelers and bought a rainbow sapphire bracelet for herself, a couple of ornaments and a gift for a niece.

Now, she’s dreaming of a White Christmas coating her bank account to the tune of $700.

Anthony’s is one of the fate-defying merchants that tempt customers every holiday season with an unusual guarantee:

Customers get their money back if a certain amount of snow falls in such-and-such timeframe, or on some special date.

“White Christmas Sale. Free Hot Tub if it snows on Christmas,” a banner proclaims this month on a sample outside West Chester Spas in Pennsylvania.

Shop until Christmas Eve at Corinne Jewelers in Toms River, N.J., and get cash back if an inch of snow falls on New Year’s Eve. If it does, customers will collectively recoup perhaps $1 million, said Ryan Blumenthal, general manager at the store that bears his grandmother’s name.

Across the country, even some car dealers get in on the action.

The merchants aren’t losing sleep because their gambles are all paid for through insurance. The insurer is the Grinch who prays for clear skies.

Picking a policy is a bit of a balancing act. If the promotion’s too easy to win — one flake! — the premiums will be sky-high. If it’s too tough to win, don’t expect an avalanche of customers.

“The idea is to make it believable to the public and make it affordable to the retailer,” said Patricia Sleicher, president of Global Weather Insurance Agency Inc., the Long Island, N.Y.-based insurer backing the spa and Corinne Jewelers deals.

Her company covers 50 to 100 weather-based promotions a year, with end-of-year snow deals being the most popular.

But other special days are targeted, too, and not just winter ones such as Valentine’s Day, President’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday. Wedding rainouts can mean ring refunds. High-temperature deals have been tried for July Fourth.

“We’ve even done wind in Wyoming,” she said.

Such promotions are small potatoes in the weather-underwriting industry, though. “Our main business is insuring concerts, movies, TV commercials for weather,” Sleicher said.

Her firm’s biggest payout was about $6 million over the filming of Cliffhanger, starring Sylvester Stallone, when production was delayed because “they got blizzard after blizzard” in the Italian Alps, she said.

With store promotions, fine-tuning often shows up in the fine print.

Anthony’s would pay off on just an inch of snow from midnight to midnight on Christmas Day.

But for a freebie hot tub, 2 inches or more must fall between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 25, as measured at Pottstown Limerick Airport in Pennsylvania.

The odds might seem slim, but very similar conditions paid off last year for patrons of Geis Perry Jewelry in Atlantic, Iowa.

“We went for 2 inches of snow in a six-hour period, and they actually got, like, 8,” Sleicher said.

“I felt fantastic about it. I had the happiest customers around,” said co-owner Rich Perry.

In 2002, Anthony Fratto, co-owner of the Palmyra jewelry store, was thrilled as he stepped out of church to see snow on Christmas Day.

“This is way cool,” he remembers saying.

UPDATE: No free spas given away yet, in 10 years! Pretty lucky for this spa retailer – one day, a white Christmas could cost him plenty!

- Jerry

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