Promotion under fire as winner claims 14 prizes

WINNER TAKES IT ALL::While the first-prize winner claimed an Apple laptop and 13 other prizes, the runner-up walked away with a fitness bicycle and a foldable bike

By Weng Yu-huang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 3

A promotional campaign launched by the Taipei City Government to boost cycling, in which residents who check in using a city government-developed smartphone application at 11 designated cycling locations would be eligible for a lucky draw, came under fire recently as the first-prize winner won 14 prizes.

In addition to taking home the grand prize of a NT$31,900 (US$1,090) MacBook Air laptop, the first-prize winner of the event, which ran between July 14 and Sept. 20, also won 13 other prizes, including a branded hat, mug, toy figure and retro-style water container.

The winner alone grabbed 14 percent of the total prizes valued at about NT$40,000 in total.

Meanwhile, the winner of the second prize, a NT$23,800 upright fitness bicycle, also won the fourth prize — a foldable bike worth about NT$22,800.

Besides these two winners, many participants were seen carrying multiple prizes, prompting speculation about the fairness of the event and whether the unequal distribution was a result of lack of participants.

According to Taipei City Government’s Department of Information Technology official Chen Chih-ming (陳志明), participants had checked into the designated cycling spots approximately 9,000 times, but it was impossible to determine the actual number of participants due to regulations set forth in the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法).

“In an effort to encourage cycling enthusiasts to take part in the campaign, we did not set limitations on the maximum number of times people could check in at those locations. However, hopefuls could only use the check-in service when they were in close proximity to each of the spots and could only ‘recheck-in’ at the same location every two hours,” Chen said.

Chen said the winners of the lucky draw were drawn randomly by a computer system on Sept. 27 and the draw was made under the supervision of the city government’s Department of Government Ethics officials to ensure openness, fairness and justness.

“Having one winner taking away multiple prizes does have an impact on the public perception of the event, but we believe such an outcome could be attributable to the fact that there is only a select group of cyclists [in the city,]” Chen said.

“Regulations to prevent first-prize winner from carrying off more awards could be put in place in similar activities in the future depending on [the values] of the prizes and the scale of the events,” he added.