The competition winners whose prizes went above and beyond

With millions of visitors each year, the most active board of the MSE Forum is Competitions Time. Here, regulars and newbies alike post free-to-enter competitions, chat about tactics and share their wins. We stumbled on a particularly heart-warming example of the latter – and you can read their story, along with two more, below.

In the thread Best Competition Win Story, compers recall times when they won a prize, only to find that it went above and beyond what they'd expected.

'The hotel gave us an extra night for free so we could catch direct flights'

Back in 2012, Forumite pate-ci0 won a two-night stay at Fairmont Hotel in Monte Carlo, by entering a Condé Nast competition on Facebook. Direct flights from their home city were few and far between so pate-ci0 and partner planned to stay an extra night somewhere "cheap and cheerful" to make the flights work. When they mentioned this to the Fairmont Hotel, it immediately added an extra night on to their stay – for free. The pair later discovered the room would usually cost a staggering £700/night.

Snaps from pate-ci0's Monte Carlo holiday

The rest of the trip sounds seriously envy-inducing. Pick-up by limousine from the airport, Taittinger champagne waiting on ice in the hotel room, "pillows the size of small cars", full body massages at the hotel spa and the loveliest team of staff. When the morning of check-out came, the hotel obliged once again by extending the room until 4pm for free so the couple could relax until time came to catch their flight.

"It was a very special experience," writes pate-ci0, "and we will treasure it. Although we may never win anything like it again, you can bet I will be trying!"

This particular competition wasn't discovered through the MSE Forum, it should be noted – it was only the following year that pate-ci0 signed up. Since 2013 they've used the forum for comping pretty much exclusively, and reckon they typically enter up to 2,000 a month. They've racked up lots of wins, but the biggest was almost £24,000 from a Bauer Media radio competition in 2019.

If you're inspired to try your hand at comping, let us nudge you towards our 40+ comping tips guide. Learn how to dodge spam, keep track of what you've entered and more.

'When word got round the spa that I was a competition winner, I was plied with freebies'

Forumite topaz13 has been comping since they were a teenager. The prize they remember as going above and beyond was a Champneys spa break, won via the first issue of a magazine which they spotted in their local shop: a four-night getaway for two with a free treatment each and £200 to spend on further treatments.

On the day that topaz13 and partner checked in, the receptionist upgraded their room for free. Next came the free treatment – a full body massage. When the therapist heard they'd won a competition to be there, she offered some extras – a full-size tub of body butter and a body brush. Word about the prize-winners went round the spa staff and the same thing happened the following day, when they were lavished with free bottles of lotions.

As for mealtimes: "We ate very well," topaz13 said, "and the staff were always very attentive to us, plying us with little extras, such as a glass of wine or a bottle of water, or just a little extra of a food that we particularly liked".

Want to read about compers on the other end of the scale? Have a gander (and a chuckle) at the Worst prize you've ever received forum discussion.

'We won a holiday to Australia which we couldn't use, so the company let us gift it to my mother-in-law'

Forumite 1trainer1's partner had just got pregnant when they won a holiday to Australia, so they decided it wasn't a good idea to travel. Rather than letting them forfeit the prize, the competition promoter NDL Group let them gift it to their mother-in-law. It just so happened that she was turning 50, and she ended up taking the trip – two weeks in a private villa in Noosa, near Brisbane – along with her partner.

What's more, the pair were able to extend their holiday with a two-week visit to New Zealand to drop in on family there for the first time. While they paid to get to New Zealand themselves, the comp promoter went above and beyond by moving the return Australia-UK flight back to a later one to allow them the extra time to travel.

"She had the best holiday ever," said 1trainer1, "and we were able to give her a gift we could never have afforded."

Got a story about a competition win that exceeded your expectations? Make us jealous – post it in the Best Competition Win Story discussion.

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