Winner of Poulet restaurant's contest accused of fowl play

Winner of Poulet restaurant's contest accused of fowl play

An online contest set up by restaurant chain Poulet, the French word for chicken, offering a holiday for two to Paris has ended up ruffling feathers.

Student Eugene Seah, 19, scooped the top prize - a pair of air tickets - by getting the most Facebook "likes" over a 13-day period last month for a photo of him kissing his girlfriend in the restaurant.

However, some contestants have alleged that many of his 1,100 likes are from "dubious" Facebook accounts. They are also unhappy with what they allege is the chain's "hands-off" approach.

Each photograph's privacy setting had to be set to public but some complainants say Mr Seah's was set to private until the last few hours before the contest ended.

Screenshots also show the accounts that "liked" Mr Seah's photograph include a "Myra Wooten", who has one friend in total and is not connected to the winner.

"It's hard to believe that hundreds of strangers would like your photo by chance," said student Koh Jia Wen, 22, who came in second with more than 900 likes.

Mr Seah told The Straits Times he traded currency from online role-playing game MapleStory for Facebook likes. The currency includes virtual money and in-game items like swords, which Mr Seah said he earned by playing. He said he did not use money to purchase "likes"and he won MapleStory items on his own merit.

"Some contestants asked their real friends, I asked my virtual ones. I can't possibly check if their Facebook accounts are real or not," the business administration student said.

"Poulet did not state the specifics and smarter people play the game this way."

He explained that his photograph was not set to public for privacy reasons.

"I contacted Poulet and they agreed."

Poulet's marketing manager Jamie Chua could not confirm the arrangement.

But the company, which has eight outlets, wanted to keep the game simple with only one rule: The photograph with the most likes wins.

"While we truly appreciate all the feedback, the decision is final as the winner has clearly fulfilled the criteria of the contest," she said.

Lawyers advise businesses holding contests to spell terms out clearly. "Companies could state that results may be audited by a third party," said Rajah & Tann lawyer Lionel Tan. "This gives participants some comfort."

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