Thursday 17 May 2012

Are you sure you are getting all your wins?

Do you sometimes think wonder if you are really getting everything you win? Have you ever thought you might be missing out on wins simply because you don't know about them?

Here are some ideas for checking to see if you have missed out on anything you need to claim. It's not unusual for businesses to have to redraw a comp because the original winner didn't claim. You don't want to be that original winner, losing out on a prize, do you?

First of all, make sure you get all your emails. Don't just rely on what comes into your inbox. Most email providers have some sort of junk or spam removal system. Sometimes it is forwarded to your account but marked as spam, sometimes put into a separate folder and stored in the online version of your email account, and sometimes it is deleted before it ever reaches you. The snag is, that because of the number of  fraudulent emails around - for instance those telling you that you have won a massive prize in a lottery you didn't enter - sometimes a spam filter will pick up phrases like "Congratulations you have won" and think the message is a  fake one, even when it is real. 

So check your spam or junk folder, if you have one, every day. Why every day? Because a few prizes, like tickets to events, are announced with such short notice that winners only have a day or two to claim.  If your email provider deletes spam before it reaches you, look at the "settings" area of the web version of your account to see if you can change that. If you can't, or if your email account is provided by your workplace where the settings will be controlled centrally, consider using a web based account such as Yahoo mail for comping, so you can check without downloading anything into your inbox.

But what if the email was never sent in the first place, or you emptied your spam folder without spotting it? Well, you can try doing what is sometimes called an "Ego search" - looking for yourself on Google.  To make your search as accurate as possible, you need to use the term OR, which looks for alternatives so, for instance, if  an announcement uses either your first initial or all of your first name,  you will still see it. And you need to enclose your first and last name in inverted commas, so Google knows it has to find places where both appear together and not a different winner who happens to share a surname with you.

So try this. Go to Google and type in the line below. Replace my name with yours (unless you want to see what I have won!)  but copy everything else exactly as I have done with the punctuation, spacing and capitalisation.

 (winner OR winners) "(j OR jane) willis"

If you've been comping online for a long time, you might get results going back for years. If so, go to "more search tools" at the bottom of the left hand menu and click on it, then you will be able to choose how far back in time your search goes. If you do this once a week, or once a month, you don't need to see older results.

If you enter competitions on Facebook that are run through an app, winners will normally be contacted by email, but if you have entered one that involves commenting on a wall or sharing a post, it can be almost impossible to keep a track of which pages you have visited and go back and check them all. You can try searching for your name using the search box at the top of the Facebook page,  scrolling down to the "posts by friends" section but it doesn't give you many results. A better way to search is to use Google and search exactly as above, but then click on "Advanced Search" in the drop down menu from the cog wheel on the top right  and then typing into the box next to "site or domain"

Another great tool for checking for Facebook wins is a group called The Winners Circle. You can find it by searching Facebook, or if you can't find it that way, friend me on Facebook and ask me to add you to the group.  Anyone can join, and members post any lists of winners that they see posted on walls  and pages. If one of your friends spots your name, they will tag you and hope that you would do the same for them, or by using the little magnifying glass at the top right of the page, you can search for mentions of your name. And of course, if you spot a winners list yourself, you can help out by posting it to the group too.

Finally on to Twitter. Most winners on Twitter are contacted by either an @ mention or a direct message, so make sure you check those regularly. I often see pleas from promoters asking people to check their DMs as they haven't replied to winning notifications! If you use the main Twitter web  page, you may not have noticed it but when you have any new @ messages  there will be a very faint blue line underneath the @ connect heading at the top of the page, and if you have any new DMs the faint blue line will be under the little head and shoulders silhouette on the top right. If you still think you may have missed something, try using the search box at the top of the page and putting your username, complete with @ eg @janesgrapevine  in it, or even use Google

And if you DO find a mention of a prize that you hadn't heard of? I've nearly always found that a polite note, by email, Facebook or Twitter, to the person running the competition will bring results. Don't be confrontational and say "You never told me!" - try to make it sound more like "Silly me, I must have missed it!" I've actually been sent prizes up to a year late after doing this.

Good luck with your ego-searching!


  1. Thanks for the search tip Jane; I just did this and found I had missed a prize in April on FB. Have sent a hopeful email off to them, but will certainly be looking more frequently from now on.

    I also found that recently twitter is not sending me emails when I am directly mentioned even though I have selected that option, so I nearly missed out on another one too. Grrr

  2. just found a beach bag win on facebook from 4 weeks ago - hopefully they will still let me have it!
    Thanks Jane x

  3. So true I had one you 've won a prize I nearly binned it only to find I had won a weekend away !


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