Wednesday 4 May 2011

What was your worst ever prize?

Have you ever won a prize that was a huge disappointment or a total disaster? Maybe something arrived smashed, as recently happened to confessionsofacompaholic or you received tickets for an event that had already happened? Perhaps the prize was worthless or even cost YOU money? Why not add your worst ever prize as  a comment to this post? Next week, you will have a chance to share your BEST ever prize.

As you probably know by now, I love winning holidays and have won over 30 in my 26 years of comping. Sometimes the hotel isn't quite what we would have chosen ourselves, but the treat of having a free holiday means we can always find something to enjoy about it. Well, almost always. A few years ago I won  a trip to Malta where nothing seemed to go right, the hotel included.

The prize was a long weekend in Malta for 4 adults, with half board included. We took one of my daughters  and her boyfriend (now husband, despite that weekend!) and decided that we would hire a car so we could see something of the island. A wise decision because it was only a week before the trip that we were told  airport transfers in Malta were NOT included and we'd have had to spend an hour on a bus to get to the resort.

Anyway, we arrived safely and went to settle in to the hotel. Our rooms  were  at opposite ends of the hotel but both rooms had enchanting views of derelict building sites. There was a hospitality tray in the room, which had ONE teabag, ONE sachet each of instant coffee and sugar and ONE little pot of UHT milk with a stern notice above it saying this was intended to last us the whole of our stay but further supplies could be purchased (at a ridiculous price) from reception.

We had arranged to meet up with the others by the rooftop pool but when we got there, they were looking at it in horror. It was surrounded with scaffolding. Children were playing in the pool, with their parents dozing beside on  sunloungers, but there were gaps in the scaffolding right by the pool and a child could have easily fallen through it to the ground, seven storeys below.

It was neither attractive nor relaxing so we decided to visit the indoor pool. But as we opened the door, a large muscle-bound attendant barred our way. "Pool closed. 4pm" he grunted. "But it's only 2pm, there are two hours yet," we protested. "To late. You no time to swim between now  and 4pm." he insisted, pushing us out and locking the door.

So we  had a wander around the town instead of our longed-for swim. While we were out, we spotted several nice looking restaurants and thought what a pity it was that we were on half board, so with a good breakfast in the  morning we wouldn't need a big lunch, and in the evening we would be having dinner in the hotel.

However when we went down to dinner that evening, the smell of school dinners hit us! The menu outside the dining room showed that there was no choice of menu - dinner was cottage pie and boiled cabbage. It smelled disgusting, so we headed off into town and had a lovely dinner at one of the places we had spotted earlier. Then back to the hotel, where we were kept awake with music from the rooftop disco until 4am.

Next morning at breakfast time, things were no better. Despite there being a stall across the road selling masses of oranges for next to nothing, the orange juice dispensers in the dining room contained very dilute orange squash. The tables were stained and dirty, and the sugar in the bowls on each table was set into a solid mass. The meagre cooked breakfast was livened up by a bowl of tinned fruit salad and some stale white sliced bread. Not really a gourmet experience - but never mind, we were  going out to explore the island in our hire car!

Or were we? When we  got to the car, it had TWO flat tyres. And of course there was only one spare tyre. We called the car hire company - but it was closed on Sundays. So the men had to set to and tackle the puncture themselves, searching for a garage that was open and could help. Meanwhile, Emma and I sat and waited in the hotel lobby and found  an entertaining way to pass the time - counting the cockroaches that scurried across the floor every few minutes.

Eventually the car was fixed and we had our outing, which went very well apart from when we were bowling along a well made up road and it suddenly stopped. The satnav wanted us to carry on, but ahead of us there was nothing but a rough field. Not wanting to risk losing any more tyres, we had to retrace our path for about 10 miles.

When we got back to the hotel, a wedding was taking place. It was taking place in the lift lobby. We decided to wait politely rather than walking through the middle of the ceremony, but a maid with a trolley of towels pushed past us and  headed to the lifts, right through the wedding party. The bride and groom, under their archway of dusty plastic flowers, looked aghast.

Later that evening we saw the wedding party in the bar. There was a line of chairs up each wall, facing on to a narrow  strip of frayed, greasy carpet. There was a smell of stale beer and  cigarettes. There was no music, no dancing, everyone looked glum. I often wonder if that couple are still  married,  or if such a miserable experience on what should have been the happiest day of their lives spoiled everything for them.

Next morning we decided to go for a swim before heading out for another day out. Now there was a notice on the door of the indoor pool. "Pool closed until October". It was June.

Despite all the setbacks, we had a lovely break and saw some beautiful places. And by avoiding eating in the hotel, we had some delicious meals.  But something inside me has held me back from ever again entering a competition with a trip to Malta as a prize.


  1. Once won a collection of 'hosiery of your own choice' from the then Polly Peck. Not offered a choice at all, and when it arrived, it was mainly huge size tights in American tan, with one or two other completely unusable items. Queried it with the firm - no reply. Also with the competition magazine where I'd seen the comp - again no reply. Dumped the lot in a charity shop, who are probably still trying to sell the wretched things.

  2. Once I won tickets to a concert plus a night at a posh hotel and dinner. Eagerly I rang to confirm the booking but to enquire if there was a typo in the letter as the concert had taken place a few weeks previously. No mistake. They had forgotton to write and told me I couldn't have the hotel and dinner without the concert!

  3. my worse prize ever was an empty jam jar - i till fall about laughing thinking of it now

  4. I once won an empty condom wallet - but at least it didn't have cockroaches!

  5. I won a "downhill racer" which was a sort of go-cart that ran on two huge balls. With two young children we were sure we could have fun with it. We found a gentle slope and soon found that no matter what our respective height and weight was the thing toppled within seconds. Neighbours joined in convinced that they would find the "trick" to making it work. We finally gave up when everyone was battered, bruised and

  6. Love your Malta story. We had similar experiences in Crete when we risked a holiday where you aren't told the final destination till you get there. We had a super view of the only gasworks on the island, everything - including the bed bases and wardrobes were made of concrete and our hired car smelled of cats :).

  7. A couple of years ago I found I was going to be a granny for the first time and entered every baby competition going. I won a Bugaboo buggy, yahoo I was over the moon.
    When it arrived it was a shabby ex rental with the rental sticker still on it! I was appalled, and decided I couldn’t give it as a gift so I sold it and put the money towards a new one.
    Several weeks went by & I kept thinking about the competition, I remember the TV station contacting me and saying congratulations out of 37,000 entrants you have won. Although I had entered free online, alot of entrants would have paid a premium rate and would not have expected a second hand prize.
    So I decided to drop them a line just to say how disappointed I had been and that I was sure they had made enough money from the competition to warranted sending out a new prize.
    Later that week I was informed an error had been made in the shipping department and a ‘brand new’ buggy had been despatched they would collect the ex rental buggy at the same time.
    WHOOPS that was the last thing I expected!! Yes they still sent out the new buggy!

  8. I won theatre tickets and my husband who usually falls asleep sat through the first half wide awake and obviously hating every minute. He was delighted when I suggested we left in the interval - he treated abandoning the production as a prize win! Really the title should have warned us - "Privates on Parade" though I've since heard the play won awards in the seventies.
    We have also sat through a couple of concerts trying to cover our ears so we don't get any deafer.

  9. Thanks for the link and mention.
    I got a rather nice outcome from an email to shout - with my yucky shampoo. They sent me a whole load again - very well wrapped. So I now have about £80 worth inc the stuff I managed to rescue and wash off - still out of pocket for the neighbours rug - but I felt i'd had a good result and didn't push for it :-)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.