Thursday 26 July 2012

Win £3,000 worth of G-Plan Vintage furniture

G Plan Vintage are running a competition on Pinterest with a wonderful prize - £3,000 worth of furniture from their new range. There is a runners up prize of a year's subscription to Homes & Antiques magazine.

To enter, you need to create a board for the competition - read the full instructions here  and make sure you give the board the title My G Plan Vintage sofa style  and choose "Home Decor" for the category. Next repin your favourite sofa from their special board to your new board, then add pins of your choice to create a look all of your own. You can have a maximum of 10 pins. When your board is ready, click on "edit my board" and then in the description box include a comment @gplan and #IloveGPlanVintage plus a brief comment about what’s inspired you to create the look.

Finally go to the entry form and send them your details and the URL of your board. The competition closes on August 31st.

If you are new to Pinterest,  they are happy to send you an invitation to join - look for the info on the competition page.  And don't forget the Grape Vine guide to  comping on Pinterest which you will find here

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Meet Muddy Carrot

Muddy Carrot is a new website with the feel of an online farmer's market and country fair all rolled into one. Small, ethical producers can sell their lovely handmade products through the site and the rest of us can browse and buy lovely foodstuffs, home accessories and even knitting yarn from them, as well as finding out about courses such as bee keeping and gardening.

They also run regular competitions, which you can read about on their competitions page. This month you can win a set of Infusion Oils cold-pressed rapeseed oils: Chilli Oil, Rosemary Oil, Garlic Oil and Thyme Oil. All you need to do is place an order or register with the site, and you are automatically entered. And if you post a review of a product you have purchased, or an Out and About event you have attended, you can play the Gone Digging game for a chance to win a £5 voucher instantly.

Win a Vespa with Strada

Strada are giving us a chance to win a Vespa LX50 in their latest Facebook competition.

Participants will have to answer weekly questions about the Mediterranean Diet to be able to enter a weekly prize draw for their chance to win an Italian pasta gift box set (4 to be given out each week), and the final prize draw for their chance to win a Vespa LX50!!

If you get at least three of the five questions right, you are in that week's draw. Clues to the answers are given on their timeline (hint - have that open in a separate tab so you don't have to keep clicking back to it). I wasn't told how many questions I got right, just that I was in the draw.

Each week's draw closes on Sunday night and the final draw closes on August 12th.

Make sure you bookmark the page and visit every week, as you need to get at least 3 questions right each week to get into the final draw!!/

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Win a holiday with is giving away a £500 voucher to be used on a flight + hotel booking at OnTheBeach. There are various ways to enter including leaving a comment telling them "why you really need a holiday this summer, and where you would like to go." The various ways of entering  appear in the box on the entry page and you can work through them all, choosing to do the task or skip that option, until you get to the end where you are given a link to share with your friends - you will get extra entries if they enter using your link. Closing date 9th August 2012.

Click here to enter

I could really do with a holiday right now - in my comment I've said I'd like to  go to Turkey. One of my most relaxing holidays ever was spent there.

Your chance to win a guitar

Oooh, my sons in law would never make a mother in law joke again if I were to win this for one of them! The trouble is, they might have to fight each other for it (and don't suggest sharing, they live in two different countries!) - so maybe in the interests of family harmony it would be better if somebody else were to win.

And that's where YOU come in - wouldn't you love to win a beautiful Fender Blacktop HH Telecaster guitar? If you would, pop over to Music Room  and tell them why in no more than 200 words. Be as creative as you can, and show your passion and commitment. And once you've made your entry, don't forget to validate it by hitting the Facebook and Twitter share buttons on the page.

You have until August 24th to get your entry in - plenty time to come up with a really great reason why you should win.

New Competition from Duracell on Facebook

In anticipation of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Duracell Bunny has gone sports mad with the launch of three sporting challenges on the Duracell UK Facebook page including diving, javelin and beach volleyball.

Fans can play for the chance to win great weekly prizes ranging from Samsung Mobile – Galaxy S II, Panasonic Camera Lumix and Thomas Cook vouchers.

This week’s Duracell Minigames prize event is javelin – everyone who throws over 50m will be in with a chance of winning a Panasonic Smart Viera TX-L32E30B TV and they   are also offering daily spot prizes of the London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games.

Good luck with it, everyone - my best attempt in the javelin was...... 0 metres. But then I'm rotten at games. My excuse is I've never had a teenage son to teach me!

Saturday 21 July 2012

A chance to win a £100 Amazon voucher

Accident Advice Helpline  have a very easy to enter competition for a £100 Amazon voucher. To enter, all you have to do is follow them on Twitter and retweet their competition tweet. Here is a direct link to the competition tweet  - and you can use that link to follow them too, by using the Follow button on the top right.

The competition closes on August 18th.

Friday 20 July 2012

Win £50 worth of golfing gear

ABC Golf are offering you the chance to win £50  to spend on their site. To enter, visit their Facebook page  and Like the page, then the entry button will appear. Fill in the form and the job's done! Closing on July 31st.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Win a car with Tesco!

Tesco Compare are giving you the chance to win a Ford Focus.

The car is a New Ford Focus Studio 1.6 85PS, 5 doors, 5 speed. The RRP is £11,495.83. The total price (including vat) is £13,795 and the estimated 'on the road' price is £13,995. They will select the colour of the car and this will be final. (This part of the rules may sound odd to you, but I was once told by a representative of a promotions handling house that a winner in a competition he had been administering turned down a prize car because he wasn't allowed to choose the colour!!!) The T&C say you are allowed to give the car away to a nominated person if you wish, so if YOU win and don't like the colour, I'd be happy for you to give it to me!

All you need to do to enter is head over to  and fill in your details. They ask you which music you like to listen to when driving, but this is just for fun. An alternative way to enter, if you have a smart phone, is to pick up a leaflet from Tesco - you will find them at the checkout - and use a QR code reader to scan the code on the leaflet.

One entry per person, and the competition closes on 28th September at 9.30am

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Two new competitions for you to enter

Bella Italia   have a new competition on their facebook page. The first prize is a family Sea Life experience - the winning family will go to Hunstanton, Gweek or Scarborough to visit the Seal Hospital and see a seal pup being released, or have a VIP family visit to the centres in Brighton, Oban, Grreat Yarmouth, Loch Lomond, Birmingham or Weymouth and there are 6 runners up prizes of a family Sea Life  annual pass.

To enter, complete the quiz on their Facebook app  and get at least 3 of the 5 questions right. Entrants will also get a voucher for 25% off their next meal at Bella Italia. You can enter up to 5 times per person and the competition closes on August 12th.

CafĂ© Rouge is giving away a  first prize of a £100 voucher and  a second prize of a Petanque game to the highest and second highest scorers each week in the Petanque game on their Facebook page. Go to the app  and play the game, to see how many points you can score - you can play as often as you like. The final closing date is August 12th.

Sunday 15 July 2012

How to schedule a tweet.

Why would you want to schedule a tweet to appear some time in the future? Why not just tweet it while you are on line? Here are some reasons why you might want to:
  • when entering a competition. Sometimes a promoter might announce a competition early on in the day and then say "Tweet us your answer between 6pm and 8pm". If you know you are not going to be around, or think you might forget, you can schedule your entry tweet to go out at your chosen time and then not worry about it any more. Also some people feel that entries made in the few minutes before a competition closes stand the best chance, depending on how the promoter checks the entries, so if a set closing time has been given you can set your tweet to go out just before then
  • when RUNNING a competition. You can schedule announcements about it to go out at different times of day, to catch the different groups of people active at those times. It is particularly useful when getting close to the closing time, as you can schedule "count down" messages to go out at intervals to remind people to make their last minute entries. If your competition closes at midnight, you don't need to stay up late just to remind people to enter.
  • to make announcements about your site, your latest blog post or a special offer. If you post all your announcements at once, people get bored. They will read the first. and then ignore the rest. Space them out over the day, or even the week, and it will be fresh news every time. A dozen tweets sent out over the course of a day will have far more impact than those same tweets sent out within half an hour
  • for personal security. Going on holiday to somewhere you won't be able to tweet from your phone? Or even just out for the day, and too busy to tweet? Get a few tweets scheduled to come out while you aren't around, and it won't be obvious to any potential thieves that your house is empty!
  • as a reminder tool. Do you want to remember somebody's birthday? Or an appointment? Schedule a tweet that says "Happy Birthday @......." to go out on their birthday, and they'll know you've remembered then - and the tweet will remind YOU too! Or one that says "Oh no, I'm seeing the dentist at 2.30 today" and once again, seeing your own tweet will remind you. Cunning!
So how do you do it? Unfortunately although it is easy to do, Twitter doesn't give us the option of scheduling tweets from our own Twitter page so we have to look elsewhere. Here are some of the third party apps you can use, and some tips on using them. For each one, you will need to register and allow the app to connect to your Twitter account. This isn't a comprehensive list of apps, just the ones I have tried and liked.

Tweet Deck   compose your tweet as normal, then click on the little clock under the text box and choose the time you would like your tweet sent. Then click on "Tweet" and the message goes into your scheduled tweets list. You can add a column for your scheduled tweets to check what is still pending - once sent, the tweet vanishes from the list.

Hoot Suite write your tweet as normal and then click on the calendar to open a box that lets you choose when to send it.

Future Tweets probably the easiest to use, just write your tweet then click on the clock to pick your time then hit the "schedule" button.  My only complaint is that in my browser, the window for choosing the date appears  all squashed up, but that's probably my fault for being a dinosaur and sticking to Internet Explorer.

Social Oomph a massive tool that can do all sorts of things, scheduling messages to all your social media  accounts being just a small part of it. Not as easy as the others to use, although the update scheduling page seems to be self explanatory and gives you the option of sending your tweet at a fixed time or just in a set number of hours. I'm still exploring what this powerful tool can do and may well report back on it another day.

Twuffer  incredibly simple to use - but do make sure you set your time zone before scheduling your tweet! Pick the London zone - even though it says GMT, when  we're on BST it takes that into account.

Buffer not my favourite - you add your tweets to the buffer and it sends them out over the next day, but at times selected by the app. You can click on the time it has chosen for you and then get the option to change it - but with so many easier ways to schedule tweets, it's not my app of choice.

And finally, if you are finding all this just too boring, how about tweeting upside down? Just go to Fliptext and type in your message, flip it then copy and paste it into a tweet that will puzzle your followers. (Note: not recommeneded for competition entries unless youare trying to be VERY creative!)

Friday 13 July 2012

A Spa-rkling prize

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to win a one night "Lust for Life" break at the Lifehouse spa in Essex. Definitely geared at putting the spark back into a relationship, the prize included options such as a ginseng massage, a love potion flower remedies session and a romantic dancing lesson. Definitely one to take my husband on!

However just a few days before we were due to go, something came up at work and my husband was unable to take the days off after all. I'd been feeling pretty stressed after the weeks of dealing with my Mum's illness,  and really needed a break, so we agreed that I should go alone.

It seemed rather odd, checking in alone for what was obviously intended  to be a break to boost your love life! But not an eyebrow was raised, and I was given the chance to swap the treatments booked for my husband for extra ones for myself.

As the spa is in Essex, I have to admit I was expecting the place to be full of WAGs with spray tans and streaked hair, so I was very pleasantly surprised to fine both staff and clients were  nice ordinary people in a wide range of ages, shapes and sizes.

My room was enormous - after all, it was intended for two - although I was rather puzzled by the bed, which was made up for THREE! The bathroom included a lovely walk in shower, with a feature perfect for a short sighted person like me, who can never see the in-shower controls without my glasses - an electronic control pad on the outside of the shower meant I could set everything to be just as I wanted it before even taking my specs off.

The room opened out into beautiful gardens and there were plenty places to sit and enjoy them. The wildlife in the gardens was VERY tame - at one point I was relaxing by the open doors when a squirrel came in and looked up at me, hoping for food.

And talking of food, the food was excellent and beautifully presented. Everywhere was comfortable and very well maintained and even without the treatments it would have been a pleasure just to relax there, with the relaxation room equipped with massage chairs, the swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam rooms.

But best of all were the treatments. I had a lovely facial and a hot stone body massage (not a ginseng one after all, they didn't want me chasing around after all the male guests!) and in place of my husband's treatments, a manicure and pedicure. All of them were wonderful, and by the time I came home I felt the stresses of the previous few weeks had completely melted away and I was once again ready to face the challenges ahead.

Fancy Dress Outfit winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my Fancy Dress Outfit competition - all 443 of you!

The winner has now been drawn - congratulations to Erin Lysandrou and commisserations to all the rest of you.

So now Erin has had a win today, making Friday the 13th a little less unlucky. I hope the rest of you have a lucky day. Have you any comping superstitions?

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Get your online comping organised!

NOTE - I am giving instructions for the web browser I use most often, which is Internet Explorer 9 (oh go on, poke fun at me for using IE - but I like to use Roboform for completing forms,  it saves me hours, and the versions  of it for other browsers don't seem to be anywhere near as quick and easy to use). Your own browser, if you use a different one, will have a very similar system but there may be slight differences. You can still use it to help you get organised.

So many sites run competitions that it can be hard to remember what you have entered, especially when a new film, for instance, is released and there are lots of different competitions related to it. And there is always the worry that by entering more than once, you might find all of your entries disqualified. In practice, most sites will still accept your first entry and just delete subsequent ones, but since we don't know which ones take a more draconian stance it's always better to play safe.

Why not use your bookmarks or favourites to help you to become more organised? If you click the right button of the mouse while you are on a website, a menu will appear - choose “Add to favourites” and a box opens with the name of the site in it, and a list of the folders in your favourites, if you already have any, or choose “New Folder” if you need to make one. Choose the folder you want to save the site into and click on “Add” to save the site.  You can do the same by choosing "Add to favourites" at the top of your Favourites  menu.

Now here is the clever trick - make folders in your favourites with the names of the next few months, for example, “August 2012”, “September 2012” and so on, and save the page into the month that the competition closes. If you have already entered, you will have already saved that site into the same folder and a message will pop up telling you so. Result - no more disqualifying yourself from competitions by accidentally entering twice!

Some sites simply call their page "competition page" so to avoid overwriting one page with another, you can type the site name into the box where the name of the page appears.

You can use the same system to organise sites that you visit regularly because they have daily, weekly or monthly competitions. Just create folders called "Daily", "Weekly" and "Monthly". In fact you can go further than this - if you know a particular site has a competition that you always like to enter on a certain day of the week, you can make a folder for each day of the week, and set it as a sub folder of your "Daily" folder.

Editing and moving bookmarks is very easy. First of all, pin your Favourites list to your screen. Do this by clicking on the little star, indicating Favourites, at the top of your screen. When the menu appears, there will be a little white box with a green arrow in it at the top (I suppose this is meant to look like a drawing pin pinned to a notice board). Click on that and your list will appear at the side. You can now move the favourites between folders, or the folders into other ones to become sub folders, either by dragging them or by opening them, saving them into their new  folder, and then deleting the original. You delete a bookmark by right-clicking on the name in the menu and then selecting "Delete".

I find moving bookmarks very useful when I've made a note - by bookmarking them - of comps I am planning to enter but haven't yet done, maybe because I need to research an answer or write a tiebreaker, or simply because I've not had time. They can be in a "to enter" folder  and once I have entered, I can move them to their correct closing date folder.

If you are a Grape Vine subscriber, you will know that I can email you  direct links (subscribers only, sorry) to hard-to-find competitions that have been listed in Grape Vine. I keep them all filed in yet another folder, called, of course, "Grape Vine" and divided into sub folders by closing date. I keep each one for 12 months after it has closed, in  case a  winner has problems and wants me to find them a link to the terms and conditions, so it adds up to many thousands of bookmarks, all filed by closing date. So this is why it is vitally important for you to tell me the closing date of any competition you ask me for a link to - as long as I know that, I can generally find the competition within a matter of seconds.

And once you get into the habit of doing this, you too can find any competition you have entered in just seconds too. Now, won't that be useful when you get a winning email and want to check back to the site to see exactly what you have won?

Monday 9 July 2012

Frugaller Forum competition for a £50 Amazon voucher

Frugaller Forum are giving away a £50 Amazon voucher. To enter, simply "Like" their Facebook page and enter your details on the form you will find here
That's all you need to do! Closing 31 July.
..... and with my Amazon wish list gettling longer by the day, I would loove to win this one!

Saturday 7 July 2012

Would you like to win a Ukulele?

Music News and the Music Room have got together to offer you the chance to win a ukulele - a very colourful one with a turtle, giraffe, frog or flamingo design. Enter at  where you can choose one of three ways to enter, by tweeting, com,menting or emailing.

The competition closes on 27th July.

Friday 6 July 2012

There's no such thing as a free lunch!

As a comper, you may not agree with that. You've probably had free lunches in the past, dinners too. In fact one of the wonderful things about comping is having something you wouldn't have otherwise had, and not paying a thing for it.

But just how free is that prize? The businesses that run competitions are not doing it out of charity, they want some return for their investment in the prize and the promotion. We compers must accept that if they don't get that,  they won't run any more competitions.

So lets have a look at what they might want in return for those prizes.

  • To sell as much as they can of a product.  In the early days of comping, this was the only reason to run a competition, and is still a very important one. You buy a product in order to enter the competition, and maybe you want a few goes, or even a LOT of goes, so you buy some more. Sales of the product increase and the promotion is a success.
  • To introduce a new product. What better way to get people talking about a new product than to attract people to it with the lure of a prize?
  • To get you to swap brands. This is often the purpose behind promotions on everyday products like butter, tea and coffee, where consumers tend to be loyal to a single brand. The promoters feel that if they can just get you to try their own product instead, you might swap loyalty.
  • To build up a mailing list. Whether by post or email, having the potential to contact you directly rather than waiting for you to go to them can help them to increase sales.
  • To imprint a brand name in your mind. When tiebreaker competitions were fashionable, promoters often felt that by asking you to spend time thinking about a product, it would embed it in your mind and you would actively seek it out when shopping in future.
  • To encourage and reward loyalty.  Making regular customers, or those who interact with the brand through social media like Facebook and Twitter, feel valued is an important part of keeping customers happy.
  • To drive traffic to a website. There are millions of websites out there and one way a brand can lure you to visit theirs rather than someone else's is to run a competition. Maybe they are hoping that you will stick around for a while and read what they have to offer, eventually making a purchase, or maybe they are just looking for a lot of hits to help their search engine rankings, either way they are keen to get you to the site. Or maybe they simply want to have links to their site featured on other sites, which helps with their search engine rankings.
  • To get information about you. In some cases, for instance the sites that just run survey based competitions and aren't actually selling anything, they are looking for your personal information so they can sell it on, perfectly legitimately if you haven't opted out,  but when a brand looks for information, it is usually to help them to profile their typical customers so that they can target their advertising and improve their customer service.
  • To make money from affiliate links. Maybe they get paid for everyone who clicks on a link from one site to another, or for everyone who signs up to a particular service while entering the competition. This is the sort of thing that is happening when you do one of those competitions where you are given the chance to opt in to other offers before you get to the "submit" button.
So for instance the monthly competition on the Grape Vine website has two purposes -  my established readers and long term supporters have a  chance to win and be rewarded for their loyalty, while potential new readers may well visit the site for the first time,  send for a sample copy and decide  to subscribe. While if I run a competition here on the blog, the brand providing the prize hopes that you will visit THEIR site and have a look around - but even if you don't, some strange magic of the internet means that simply having the link to their site on my blog helps their SEO. (No, I don't understand that either - to me having a link that isn't followed is like having an exercise DVD that never comes out of the box....)

Why am I telling you all this now? Well, recently there has been another spate of apparently fake competitions on Twitter and Facebook. And one way of telling whether or not a competition is genuine is to look at the above list of  things a promoter might want to get out of a competition and ask yourself which of those it fits. If they don't appear to be doing anything BUT running a competition, or a series of competitions, with no associated brand or sales website, if they aren't trying to get you to buy a product or register for more information,  then what are they going to get from it? What's the payback for the prizes on offer? If a Twitter feed or Facebook page does nothing BUT shout about the competition, especially if there is no link to a website, the chances are it's just some kind of hoax or scam. Nobody, apart from the occasional eccentric millionaire, gives something away and expects absolutely nothing in return - there has to be some benefit to them that pays for the prize. So remember:


If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn't true!

Thursday 5 July 2012

Have you got Olympics tickets yet? Why not WIN some?

I was so sure I would win tickets to the Olympics that I didn't apply for any. And since I've not won any I will definitely be entering this!

ParkatmyHouse is giving one lucky Facebook fan, the chance to win a pair of 100m final and semi-final tickets, beach volleyball tickets, dinner at Roux and 2 nights stay at the London Four Seasons Hotel. To enter, like the ParkatmyHouse Facebook page and enter your details. Entrants must be 16 or over and the deadline is 25 July 2012.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

New ITV quiz show seeks contestants

But hurry, applications close on July 8th. Here is the letter I reveived, so you can read the full details. The email address to contact them is right at the bottom.

Dear Sir/ Maddame,

I am looking for people to take part in a brand new Quiz show. Are you or anyone else you know interested? If so please read and or circulate between friends and family. See below for more information.

Don’t Blow the Inheritance is an exciting new quiz show where two person teams , made up of generations of the same family , must make it through a series of knock out general knowledge rounds to build up their Inheritance Prize Fund and make it through to the final.

 Parents (grandparents , aunts and uncles) battle to build the Inheritance Prize Fund up with thousands of pounds ready to pass on to the next generation. However , the younger generation team mate can only take the Inheritance Prize Fund home if they don’t “blow it all” at the end of the game!

It’s down to the younger generation to answer the final questions correctly so they can keep the cash rather than blowing all of mum , dad or granny’s hard work!

We are on the look out for fun and lively personalities who would like to take part in the programme. We will be holding nationwide auditions over the next few weeks. Any help you can provide us in spreading the word about our search for potential contestants would be very much appreciated. I have attached a flyer in the hope that you can circulate it amongst colleagues, friends and family who may be interested in appearing on the show and possibly winning themselves some money. In addition, if you have a bulletin board or company intranet site perhaps you could display the attached flyer there.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any more information or if indeed you would like an application form yourself.

Thank you for all your help.

Kind regards,

The Don’t Blow the Inheritance Production Team

 For more details and how to apply email us today at

All applicants must be 18 years of age or over and be currently resident and living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Applications are subject to the terms and conditions in the application form.

Monday 2 July 2012

COMPETITION: Win a fancy dress outfit

One of the UK’s leading online retailers for fancy dress is getting us excited about Halloween already. All Fancy Dress is offering one lucky winner a £30 voucher to spend online as they wish. This is the perfect opportunity for anyone who has a fancy dress themed party, hen do or stag do to attend and are in need of some inspiration.

Not forgetting the little ones either, the competition voucher is also open to children’s costume as well.  There are lots to choose from, and you could buy any of the outfits  shown here - or dozens of others - with the prize voucher.

The summer is always a busy time of year with many people wishing to gather all friends and family together. Not to mention the copious amounts of festivals to attend with many opening their gates to fancy dress wearers.

Even if you haven’t got a fancy dress themed party to attend, why not host one this summer and with this voucher choose the greatest costume that will knock everyone dead. Or why not be extremely organised and have your Halloween costume already laid out?

How do I enter?

 It’s simple; just send me an email using this address  with the subject FANCY DRESS  between Monday July 2nd and  midnight on Wednesday July 11th along with your name, email address and postal address. One entry per person, and no bulk, automated or third party entries. Entries from mass-entry services will be deleted.

I will be announcing the winner on Friday July 13th - so it will be a LUCKY day for somebody!. Please note that this competition is open to UK and Europe residents only.

 Good luck to everyone and have fun dressing up !