Sometimes, it’s annoying to watch television and see ads for businesses or products that don’t exist in your area, like the Sonic ads on cable that taunted us here in the Northeast for years. In a series of Allstate ads that air nationwide, the insurer talks about a biannual bonus check that customers who don’t get in accidents receive. “Where’s my check?” asked one Allstate customer who hasn’t had an accident in decades. Where, indeed?

Here’s one of those ads, if you haven’t caught any of them:

The curious safe driver contacted Allstate, and they explained to her that customers in California can’t sign up for the program, because it isn’t available there. That’s also the case in North Carolina, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Yet ads that specifically promote this program, and not just the Allstate brand, air nationwide.

The customer turned to CBS Sacramento’s consumer reporter, Kurtis Ming, for some clarity. The TV station asked Allstate why, exactly, the program isn’t available in California.

“It’s a business decision,” a spokesperson said. Okay. It might have something to do with insurance regulations in those four states, too: while the Allstate spokesperson wouldn’t confirm that this is why the program isn’t available, the state Department of Insurance explained to the station that rebates on insurance are specifically outlawed in California.

Why air the ad nationwide when the thing it advertises isn’t available in the most populous and most car-enamored state in the country? Nationwide ad buys are the reason everyone sees the commercials, which is why there’s a disclaimer. It appears only as fine white text for a few seconds during the commercial.


“Most people don’t stop and pause to see what the fine print is,” points out a local consumer attorney. They’ll learn the truth when they ask their Allstate agent where their bonus checks are, but wouldn’t it save everyone a lot of time to throw an audible disclaimer in there?

Call Kurtis: I’m a Good Driver. Where’s My Allstate Bonus Check? [CBS Sacramento]

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.