Sunday 6 March 2011

Don't get yourself disqualified!

Some compers seem to work very hard to get themselves disqualified. Don't be one of them!  However much effort you put into your comping, if your entries don't get into the draw or the judging, you can't possibly win. Sometimes you can disqualify yourself without realising it - just have a look through these pitfalls and make sure you aren't falling into any of  the traps.


Always  make sure your entries are STAMPED and not franked- in order to stop entries from mass-entry services, many promoters are  including a term in the rules to say entries must be individually stamped. Use the correct postage, bearing in mind that anything thicker than 5mm needs a large letter stamp even if it is in a tiny envelope, and  don't re-use soaked off  unfranked stamps.  And never, EVER, write "Freepost" on an envelope and send it without a stamp, unless  the address really IS a Freepost one. If the Post Office decides there is a surcharge to pay, the promoter will simply refuse the letter, and nowadays it may just be destroyed rather than returned to you, so you will  never know about  it.

If you are tempted to get round "one entry per person" or "one entry per  household" rules  by entering with several names at the same address, don't forget that almost all comp entries  are now logged onto a computer, which can easily check to see if the same postcode or address has already been used. Tip: one promoter  told me that if they have allowed one entry per person, they will start to carefully scrutinise entries to see if they are genuine if they get them from  more than 4-6 people at the same address.


Make sure you text EXACTLY what they ask for - no more and no less. Don't send your address if they don't ask for it- the computer that reads your message will simply not understand it and may not count your entry.  Check how often you are allowed to enter, because if you enter more times than allowed, you will still pay for your text but your entry won't count.


Make sure your email address is correctly spelled and doesn't have a spam trap in it.  Several times, the potential winner of the GrapeVine monthly comp has lost out on their prize  because they gave an email address that didn't work, so I was unable to contact them.

Remember that the information you give on the form  isn't the only information the promoter can see. If they are at all suspicious about your entry, they can check how you got to the web page, for instance if you followed a link from another site they can see which site it was, and they can check the IP address of your computer, the software you viewed the web page with  and even the town you come from. So if you live in Bristol and send in entries in the names of friends  and family living in Aberdeen or Maidstone, they'll know you did it and  if there is a "no third party entries" rule...... well. the promoter has a "delete" button and knows  how  to use it!


The Golden rule for Retweet competitions is


Don't RT another comper's entry - it won't show up in the  promoter's "Your  tweets retweeted" column - so you won't have entered the competition.

Some more points to remember:
  • check the original details of the competition to see what the task is. It may not be a retweet competition at all. You might be asked to answer a question, visit a website or  blog to enter there,  or even complete and tweet a tiebreaker,  and if you simply copy and paste someone else's tweet your entry won't be counted.
  • Make sure the promoter's @ name is included in the tweet. Every day I see dozens  of attempted comp entries that won't be seen by the promoter because without their Twitter ID in the message, the message won't  appear in  their Twitter  feed.
  • Check that  the competition is actually open to you. If you look at the  promoter's own Twitter page, their location will probably be shown. If it is outside the UK, send them a  quick tweet to ask if UK entries are welcome. Several people have been told they have won things, then had the prize withdrawn when the promoter found  that they were in the UK. In general, assume  any competition is only open in the country where the promoter is based, unless they say otherwise.
  • Look at the closing date and check that the competition is still open. The best way to do this, if no closing date is given, is to find the competition tweet in the promoter's timeline and  scroll forward to the current time, checking to see whether any winners have been announced. And if they say the draw will be held at a certain number of followers, look how many they have at the time you enter - hyou may be too late.
Overall, however  you enter a  competition, check to make sure you have done everything  asked of you, made a clear and valid entry and got it in before the closing date. And  then......   cross your fingers!


  1. "And never, EVER, write "Freepost" on an envelope and send it without a stamp, unless the address really IS a Freepost one."

    People do that??

  2. Yes, they really do. I've occasionally had letters sent to Grape Vine that the senders have tried that with too. I've rejected them.

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