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posted: 1/4/2014 5:05 PM

Mundelein jewelry store likely not refunding customers

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  • A sign in the window of PK Bennett Jewelry on Tuesday in Mundelein advertises the store's snow promotion.

       A sign in the window of PK Bennett Jewelry on Tuesday in Mundelein advertises the store's snow promotion.
    Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • Rich Bennett talks on New Year's Eve about his jewelry store's snow promotion in Mundelein.

       Rich Bennett talks on New Year's Eve about his jewelry store's snow promotion in Mundelein.
    Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 

Chances are customers of a Mundelein jewelry store will not be getting refunds for about $151,000 worth of purchases, although not all is lost yet.

Rich Bennett, owner of P.K. Bennett Jewelers, ran an "If It Snows, It's Free" promotion offering refunds for purchases made between Nov. 29 and Dec. 24 if it snowed more than 3 inches from midnight to noon on New Year's Day at O'Hare International Airport.

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Alas, apparently just a little over 1.1 inches fell in that 12-hour period, Bennett said.

That's not what the jeweler hoped for -- or expected, given the massive quantities of snow dumped on the Chicago area this week.

"Do you think anybody in Chicago is not surprised? We're just as shocked as everybody else," he said.

The store's insurer, HCC Specialty Underwriters based in Massachusetts, hired Palatine-based Weather Command, who made that determination, Bennett explained.

"The only part I do understand is, we got home late on New Year's Eve and it stopped snowing around midnight. It was just a real light snowfall coming down, not even a flurry," he said.

"Then I guess it started back up in the morning sometime between 5 and 6 a.m. We lost five or six hours of snowfall. I thought we had enough to hit our mark, but obviously not."

Still, Bennett said he and his wife Peggy are doing their own checking.

"We have a resource we're consulting with," he said, declining to give further details.

"Obviously, as a business it would be awesome for us and our customers to have this big party and write everyone a check, but we have to abide by what the insurance company says."

The insurance company is open to hearing further results, he said. "At least, they're saying that."

Representatives of Weather Command were not available for comment Saturday. The offices of HCC Specialty Underwriters were closed Saturday.

The National Weather Service said a trace of snow was reported at O'Hare between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday and that 0.7 inches fell between 6 a.m. and noon. The three-day total at O'Hare as of Friday afternoon was 10.9 inches. More snow fell in Lake County, with Mundelein getting 18.2 inches.

Altogether, 224 customers would qualify for refunds for purchases ranging from silver chains to engagement rings, Bennett said. The most expensive purchase was for $8,000.

"Some people weren't going to make a purchase at this time and bought gift cards just in case," he said.

Customer Matt Mulvaney is among those who've been waiting with baited breath.

Mulvaney bought wedding bands for himself and his fiance, Ally Yarc, along with a diamond necklace as a Christmas gift for Yarc.

"We were definitely surprised that it was just 1.1 inches," he said. "As much snow as there was by us, we figured no way it could be that low out there (at O'Hare)."

Mulvaney said he remains hopeful.

"I like that Rich has shown that they are trying to look into it further, trying to make sure that actually was the correct amount (of snow)," he said. "There's some optimism, yeah."

The store doubled its size in October and has had its best year in its 13 years in Mundelein, Bennett said.

"One of the reason we're doing this is to give back to our customers and find a fun way to do that," he said. "Our customers are extremely loyal, extremely supportive."

If the final verdict -- which Bennett hopes to get on Monday -- is disappointing, Bennett said he will do something for his customers anyway.

"We're kicking around several ideas of something we can do, possibly have a party or do something else, and still make it somewhat of a good ending to a great promotion."

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