Be Careful What You Win. Thanks SEOUL Magazine?
Blogging has really taken a hit as of late. I’m in the middle of preparing to leave Korea, heading back home later this Spring. It seems I’m all consumed with networking for my next job, applying to jobs, watching struggling Trail Blazer basketball and spending quality time with my girl and my dog.
Something else demanding my time has been planning the last vacation in Asia.
A few months ago I posted We are Winners! – Thanks Seoul Magazine. SEOUL Magazine was “giving away dozens of prizes including a trip to the Philippines (courtesy of Jin Air) and an iPad (courtesy of KT).” In that post, I describe how I won that advertised trip to the Philippines.
What a nightmare that turned out to be. I learned the hard way that winning can actually be anything but.
The prize was two travel vouchers from Incheon to Clark Field in the Philippines on Jin Air. Ever heard of Jin Air? Ever heard of Clark?
Jin Air is budget airline with extremely limited flights out of Incheon. It flies to Clark a few times a week and only at odd times. Clark is merely a connecting airport, an old military base. There is not a damn thing to do there and you can’t seemingly grab a flight to anywhere else in the Philippines. You can bus to Manila and get to somewhere else in the Philippines, but now you’re talking extra time and money, so what’s the point? The only imaginable reason someone would find themselves at Clark would be to connect to another destination, not in the country.
Basically, in order to take advantage of this “trip to the Philippines”, we’d have to pay for another flight to a different location, not in the Philippines.
When we got the vouchers, they were about to expire. My contact at SEOUL Magazine explained to me that they were given to their boss, and then passed on down the line multiple times until it was decided they were going to be used as a “prize”. Clearly these vouchers were undesirable, considered next to worthless by staff at the magazine. I can see the thought process now, “Hey, I got a GREAT idea. Obviously nobody here wants these things. If we advertise giving away a trip to the Philippines we’ll boost our image in the social networking world by appearing to do something nice for a lucky reader, even if in reality we are totally inconveniencing the winner by getting their hopes up, that is until they figure it all out.”
We succeeded in getting the validity date of the vouchers extended, otherwise, there would have been no way to use them. Flights out of Clark are pretty cheap. It appeared we could still connect to another destination for cheaper than a direct flight out of Incheon. Unfortunately, that only resulted in us getting our hopes up over a three month period as we contemplated how to make the best use of the circumstances we were given.
When we finally decided to pull the trigger on a scenario that would allow us to connect into Hong Kong, and possibly other destinations, Jin Air told us that in order to schedule the reservation, we would have to pay the taxes on the two flights. Fair enough, I’ve heard of this scenario with prizes in the past. Looking online, the taxes on two flights from Incheon to Clark are under $50. Jin Air was asking us to pay close to $250 in taxes in order to reserve the two seats.
Between the added expenses of the “taxes” and the additional hotel stay that would be required in the Clark area in order to connect to another destination without spending most of a day in the airport waiting for the flight, wasting all of our precious vacation time, we were looking at a decent amount of money and a giant pain in the ass.
I’m happy to say that we dropped the whole headache and purchased our own tickets to Phuket. Less layover, wasted travel time and headache. Same amount of money, maybe less. No brainer.
To be fair, SEOUL Magazine never used the word “free”, but they did say they were giving away a trip.
I hardly think it’s fair for Seoul Selection to advertise giving away a trip to the Philippines when in reality it’s to a undesirable destination for a price of $300 + when taking into consideration the out of pocket expenses required just to utilize the vouchers being offered. That, and the only way to end up vacationing in the Philippines is to spend a lot more money and waste a lot more time trying to get anywhere.
I wrote to SEOUL Magazine last week. Not sure why. Maybe I hoped they would offer up another “prize”. Maybe I just wanted someone to acknowledge how absurd this situation was. Since I got nothing in return, I decided to share my story.
I don’t want to come across as ungrateful for having won something, but in reality, anything would have been better than the headache this has caused us, including winning nothing.
SEOUL Magazine, please take that into consideration when offering gifts and prizes in the future.
~ by ripcitytoseoul on March 7, 2012.