Toro’s ‘free’ snowthrower promotion is a real snow job

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Toro’s sales promotion this fall appears to be the deal of the century: If you buy a new snowthrower but get very little snow this winter, they’ll give you the snowthrower free.

However, after Consumers Digest interviewed a weather-pattern expert, what’s our conclusion about the likelihood that anyone will qualify for the promotion? Not a snowball’s chance in hell.

Toro says anyone who buys a new Toro snowthrower through Nov. 15, 2013, will receive a full refund for the purchase price if the buyer gets less than 10 percent of the average annual snow accumulation in his/her area from Oct. 1, 2013, through April 1, 2014. If the snowfall is more than 10 percent but less than 50 percent of the average annual snow accumulation, the buyer qualifies for a 10 percent refund.

However, the chance that any area will receive less than 10 percent of its average annual snowfall accumulation is unlikely, according to Jim Angel, who is the Illinois state climatologist.

For example, in Chicago, the average annual snowfall is 37.1 inches. So Chicago would have to receive less than 3.7 inches of snow this winter for someone to qualify for a full snowthrower refund from Toro. Angel says Chicago never has received less than 3.7 inches of snow during a winter in the past 122 years.

It also is unlikely that anyone will qualify for the 10 percent refund, Angel says. For example, Chicago’s winter snowfall would have to be less than 18.5 inches, which has happened only four times in the past 122 years, Angel says.

Toro didn’t respond to Consumers Digest’s request for an interview.

If you’re serious about buying a new snowthrower, you can check out our Best Buy selections as well as discover the latest trends in “Pathfinders: Next-Generation Snowthrowers.”

– K. Fanuko