Sunday 30 December 2012

Do you tick all the boxes?

Something I'm often asked about is whether it is "safe" to opt out of further information when entering a competition. Although the law says that entrants who opt out, if given the option, should be treated equally with those who opt in, there is always a sneaky feeling in the back of your mind that maybe your entry will be ignored if you opt out. After all, one of the reasons a promoter may run a competition is to help them to build up a database of potential customers.

However any reputable promoter knows that, if challenged by an authority such as Trading Standards, the ASA or the IPM, they will need to be able to prove that the draw or judging was completely fair, so if you choose to opt out of further information it should have absolutely NO EFFECT on your chances of winning.

But before you go ahead and opt out, lets have a look at some of the pros and cons of doing so.

The obvious benefit of opting out is that it can reduce the amount of unwanted emails you get.  Advertising emails that you have opted in to are technically not spam, but when you log in and find a hundred of them lying in wait for you it can feel as if they are! The real spammers, though, get hold of your details by far less legitimate means, ones that you can't opt out of!

However there is also an advantage to receiving these advertising emails, a comper-specific one quite apart from the fact that you will be kept informed of sales and offers. Have you ever stopped to look closely at them and see how many of them include competitions, sometimes only open to members of the mailing list? If you tend to delete them all unread, try setting aside some time to open a batch of them and scroll right through. You may find some surprises, often lurking in the last few lines of the email. In fact you may find that you are included in a monthly draw simply by virtue of staying subscribed to the email list.

Once you have decided whether to opt in or out, read the entry form carefully. The boxes to tick or untick can be very misleading. It's quite common to see two boxes, one to opt in to further communications from the promoter and the other to opt in to them from "carefully selected third parties" (I always take that to mean the third parties are selected according to how much they are prepared to pay for the mailing list!). But BEWARE - sometimes you have to tick the box in order to opt OUT rather than in, and sometimes you even have to opt IN to one kind of communication and OUT of another.

Some promoters make opting in a condition of entering - this has been challenged and been found to be acceptable as long as you have the option of opting out after the competition has closed. In fact any mailing list should include opting out instructions somewhere in every email they send you.

And just a few promoters seem to try to confuse you by giving complicated instructions including double negatives and long winded terms - if I see something like this, my suspicions are raised and I don't enter the competition. I feel the promoter is just looking for an excuse to bombard me with emails from themselves and every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to buy their mailing list.

But on the whole, I opt IN to further emails from the promoter and OUT of further emails from other businesses. And by doing that, I've won lots, found lots of new competitions to enter (and sometimes win) and even, simply by being on a mailing list, won a VIP trip to Wimbledon!


  1. thanks for that, made for useful reading

  2. very useful Thank you for that Jane

  3. Love this post! I always think this - if I opt out I may have less chance. It;s great to know it's not the case yet my mind still says different when I'm checking the boxes.

    I have hundreds of emails each day and I check as many as possible for hidden comps, as you say they're usually at the end of the email.
    I won an Anchor Dairy apron by checking an email. Right at the end there was a little tie breaker competition I had a feeling I would win it as it was hidden away in the email and I did win as a runner up. :)

    It's nice to see we do the same...opt in for company emails and out for third party.
    Great Minds and all that ;)


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