Golfer gets a hole-in-one; dealer whiffs

Jamie LaReau is a retail reporter for Automotive News.

A California Kia dealership was basking in the glow of its sponsorship of a hole-in-one challenge at an annual charity golf tournament when the unthinkable happened. On May 7, for the first time in the event's history, a golfer, Allan Ross, made the shot.

What happened after that wasn't pretty.

Ross believed he had won a $66,000 Kia K900 sedan that was displayed prominently at the tee. He even posed for pictures with the dealer in front of the car, said a report on the local KXTV station.

But what he actually had won was a $25,000 gift certificate. The amount reflected how much the hole-in-one insurance policy would pay to the dealership, Folsom Lake Kia, near Sacramento.

Dealership owner Chuck Peterson, as well as Jon Peterson, his son and the store's general manager, say the charity should have provided a disclaimer on printed material stating the prize was limited to $25,000, KXTV reported. The men also blamed the insurance company, which provided signage for the event, for not saying the luxury sedan was merely display.

The impasse lasted for weeks, generating a lot of boos and hisses in social media posts and commentary elsewhere.

Last week, Jon Peterson said the store will give Ross the luxury car, calling it a donation to the charity.

That's the right move, but it never should have gone this far. This was not a fight worth fighting. Dealers easily spend tens of thousands of dollars a year, sometimes per month, to run newspaper, TV and radio ads promoting their stores. Handing over the car and swallowing the cost would be infinitely less expensive than the price of advertising. And that's not even counting the cost of repairing a reputation that has been damaged.

This should have been a defining moment for the dealership, a chance to appease a tee'd off golfer and protect a priceless public image.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com -- Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jlareauan



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