Free-Pool Deal Hot, But Not Hot Enough

photo of pool thermometer
photo courtesty Flickr | jypsygen

Last March, Nelson Barrett, owner of North West Wholesale, a pool and hot tub company in Winnipeg, Manitoba, bet approximately $550,000, or the equivalent value of every pool and hot tub his business sold between March and July, that the weather on Monday, July 18, would be 93 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Barrett offered anyone who purchased a pool, hot tub or water-heater kit from him between March 1 and July 4 a full rebate if temperatures hit 94 or higher at Richardson International Airport on July 18.

Sure, it's Canada, and Barrett's chances were good, but a half million dollars if you're wrong?

As fate would have it, July 18 was indeed a scorcher in the upper Great Plains. There were a lot of people watching the Weather Channel that day in Winnepeg with a rooting interest. The mercury climbed higher and higher, lifted, so it seemed, by the financial aspirations of Barrett's customers.

Ken Sywake was one customer eligible for a full refund of the $4,000 pool he purchased in May for his four young grandkids. Ordinarily, the 62-year-old doesn't trust weather reports. He prefers to go outside in the morning and gauge the weather himself. But on July 18, Sywake and his family checked weather reports religiously throughout the day.

If he did get his money back, Sywake knew exactly what he wanted do with it. He'd buy the fishing boat that he had originally suggested to his grandkids before they asked for a pool instead.

Well, unless he found the funds elsewhere, Sywake did not buy his boat because while it was hot in Winnipeg on July 18, it was not 94. A meteorologist for Environment Canada said the temperature that day in Winnipeg plateaued at 90 degrees.

Even though he was not able to hand out refunds, Barrett was pleased with the campaign. "This has gone beyond what we expected," Barrett told the Winnipeg Free Press. "We spent a little bit of money on this, but compared to what it would cost to run a whole bunch of ads — I think we got way more out of it."

See, even as the thermometer hit 90, Barrett was not sweating. He'd taken out an insurance policy for the event, so his business was covered no matter which side of 94 the mercury stopped on.

The insurance policy the company purchased is called contingency insurance, typically used for outdoor concerts and festivals that carry a lot of costs dependent on good weather.

"We just took that and flipped it over to our business and the insurance company said they loved the idea," Barrett said.

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