A few weeks ago, I was informed via Twitter that I’d won a contest that I wasn’t even aware that I’d entered.  Pretty cool, right?

Wrong.

I received a Tweet from a traffic notification account that I’d won two free lift tickets to Copper Mountain, and to email the admin at goI70 to claim my prize.  I was pretty excited, I lived and worked at Copper Mountain just out of college, and loved every minute of it.  It was the perfect transition from college life to the real world, giving me the opportunity to have one last hurrah before joining the 9-5 working crowd.  Winning those tickets was like getting a glimpse back into that time in my life.  I emailed the address that was sent to me thanking them for getting in touch with me, and asking how I could go about getting my free lift tickets. 

A week later, I received an email from the admin with an apology for her delay in response, letting me know she’d been on vacation with encouragement to continue sharing my travel observations.  The email did not mention my prize, so I responded asking about the aforementioned tickets.  Here is the response I got:

Back when I sent you the message via Twitter there were two weekends left to their ski season, but Copper Mountain closed yesterday so unfortunately the tickets have expired.  I’m sorry the timing didn’t work out such that you could have used them!

So, basically, I won a prize for a contest that was never mentioned, but because the site admin went on vacation and didn’t have the foresight to have someone else monitoring the email account, I missed out?  I never received an autoresponder about her being on vacation, but my Tweets about winning sure were being monitored and retweeted.  Who holds a contest with such a short window to claim a prize, and then doesn’t communicate during the last week of the time that the prize is available?

I tried to brush this off, but it has continued to annoy me.  Couldn’t they have offered tickets for next season?  Not offered the tickets in the first place?  Offered a backup because of their poor communication?  Nope.  I may not have gotten my lift tickets, but at least I got some blog fodder.  If you’re holding contests on social media sites, here’s a little pro tip: make sure that you are offering something that you can deliver on.  If you can’t, find a way to make it right.  Have clear and concise guidelines in order to set expectations properly.  I used to find this Twitter account to be very credible, but now? Not so much.

Fortunately, I have had many more positive contest experiences on Twitter than negative.  I’ll be talking about those later this week.  What have your experiences been?  Good?  Bad?  Ugly?  We’d love to hear about them!

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