Curious case of winning Karnataka Tourism photo contest! - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Curious case of winning Karnataka Tourism photo contest!

I usually do not participate in online contests because they will have half a dozen useless rules like we should follow them, promote them, write our property in their name and so on. But sometime in July, I accidentally saw a tweet by KSTDC- Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation, running a photo contest. We only had to upload a photo and use the hashtag provided. This looked simple, so I participated.

My photo was about the swing I had found in Kundapura's Kodi beach.

KSTDC social media team promptly announced winners on August 19 just in time for world photography day. I was one of the winners- 3rd prize winner. I was happy I won something after long time.

On twitter I was asked for my phone number and email, which I promptly provided. I was told someone will contact me shortly for my prize (stay at KSTDC hotels). However nothing happened for more than 2 months. I sent two reminders, which were promptly ignored.

I checked with other two winners, they also confirmed they haven't got any response either. This is very common in Govt departments. It doesn't cost anything for social media team to promise moon and run a contest. To give away the prizes someone has to bear the cost. That department/person is least interested in giving out something for free. 

Sometime in October I tweeted in disappointment that KSTDC is not keeping its promise and not giving winners the promised prize- stay at KSTDC hotels. After few days finally someone called me and I was told "as a 3rd prize winner I will only get 25% discount".

This was new to me- I showed them the poster which said "winners will get stay at KSTDC hotels" not "winners will get discount". The person promptly said he will check and revert. I also offered complementary review of the property that I always do to sweeten the deal. One week later, after a reminder I was told "we can only give 25% discount"

When I asked "where have you mentioned winners will only get a discount" I was asked to refer this page: which had following lines

I was also told "we can give 50% discount" in a sudden change of mind.

To me it seems like they edited T&C page recently, because just a week back I was told I will be getting 25% discount. Now they have increased it to 50%. Most probably no rule was there to this effect in August while running the contest. My mistake I didn't check the fine print and trusted the display picture.
As of now I have decided to reject their 50% discount offer. I can stay in some good homestay in that 50% I am required to pay. I see that they have 50% discount anyway to all guests, probably due to low demand because of pandemic. Not in any mood to ask if I will get 50% off the discounted price (i.e. 1000 per night) or on MRP.
Lessons learnt: 
  • Avoid wasting time on online contests. Most are designed to extract some free publicity and are never meant to give you something for free.
  • Particularly Govt departments are least trustworthy. Do not believe what they say in poster- refer fine print and keep evidence of what you see. They may turn the table anytime.
  • I had some respect for KSTDC as I had provided lots of content for their website refresh. Will reset my expectations.
I have stayed in enough luxury resorts around the world so can live without the free stay at KSTDC hotels. But not disclosing their terms upfront and trying to exploit people is something I didn't like. You have been warned.
KSTDC Mayura Gerusoppa that I saw in Sep- fairly basic hotel but their main advantage is strategic location- like right next to Jog falls, where no other private hotel is allowed.


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