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July 1999 Vol. 14, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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World Underwater Photographic Competition

you may have won and don't know it

from the July, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In our July, 1998, issue we let readers know about the Second World Underwater Photographic Competition, a contest held in the Turks and Caicos from May 1 to November 15, 1998. Preliminary information did sound appealing: winners would have their winning photograph reproduced on a Turks and Caicos stamp and, according to the contest rules printed on the website, would share up to $10,000 US in cash prizes [and] up to $50,000 in additional prizes that will include dive travel to exotic locations, dive training, dive and underwater photographic equipment.

Florida reader Bob Kaufman thought the contest sounded tempting, so he traveled to the Turks and Caicos, took photos, and submitted an entry. At the end of January he was notified that he was the third-place winner. Kaufman told us the notice said I would soon receive a letter detailing the prizes I had won and telling me how to get them. After several months and plenty of phone calls, Kaufman received prizes from PADI and the Aggressor fleet, but has yet to be notified what the balance of his winnings are. He wrote us in March asking if we could help him collect his winnings, and we contacted Ian Stuart with IDM International, the contests administrator, in an effort to resolve the problem. Stuart was unwilling to discuss specifics of the contest and said that there was no need for the media to become involved. He also stressed the fact that the contest promised cash prizes of up to $10,000 and non-cash prizes up to $50,000. He could not confirm whether this years prizes would be $1 or $9,999 and would only attest that winners would receive a sheet of postage stamps and a letter indicating who received commemorative issues.

It seems Kaufman is not the only winner whos experienced problems. The eighth-place winner, Steven Genkins of North Carolina, had not heard from contest organizers, so he finally wrote the folks at IDM. He received a reply notifying him that he had won but making no mention of a prize. Reader Ralph Oberlander of New Hampshire won fifth place and received $1,500 in 1997 and a honorable mention in 1998. He said, I had to hound them to get my prizes and my $1,500 share of the prize money. I did get a free trip to the Turks and Caicos and free hotel in addition to the stamps.

Ralph Higgs, Senior Marketing Officer for the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board, said he didnt know why the winners have not been notified of the prizes. While Higgs said that the prize money for the first competition came from local businesses, neither the rules nor the contest organizers confirm what prizes will be given this year or who will provide them. Winners will probably receive a stamp and be able to point to their name in the websites list of winners, but beyond that it remains to be seen whether they will receive much at all.

the Ombudsman

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