Friday 21 September 2012

Does your qualifier qualify?

In days of old when knights were bold..... ooops, sorry, I'd better not go there.

In days of old, when I first started comping, the most common way to enter a competition was to cut out an entry form, from a pack, a magazine or a leaflet and send it by post. If a purchase was required,  a pack label, lid or token had to be enclosed with the form. In the early 1990s, barcodes and itemised till receipts came in, meaning we no longer had to send in bulky packaging, but we still had to send in our proof of purchase at the time of entry.

Nowadays it is far more common to enter online or by text, and your proof of purchase may be a code from a promotional pack, the barcode number from your pack or a code from your till receipt. Or the entry details may just say "buy the product and then text the following word to..." without any code at all.  Just to confuse matters, sometimes the display material in a shop doesn't mention a purchase at all, and you could well enter without checking the full terms and conditions, hidden away in the small print on the display or on a website, which tell you that a purchase is necessary ( I believe it's very naughty when promoters do this, and all proofs of purchase should be CLEARLY stated before you enter, without anyone having to hunt down details, but maybe that's a bit old fashioned of me in this age of information).

So it can be very tempting, either deliberately or by accident, to enter a competition without buying the product. It's quick and easy to send that text, that neck collar with an entry code can easily slip off a bottle into your shopping bag, that website is never going to check that you bought the product, is it? But if you get a winning phone call and are asked to send in your proof of purchase, all of a sudden trying to sneak in a free entry doesn't seem like such a good idea after all!

If the terms and conditions say that winners may be asked to provide proof of purchase, it doesn't necessarily mean that they WILL be asked for it, just that the promoter reserves the right to do so. But if they do ask, and you can't produce it, you will lose the prize - possibly a wonderful prize that you really wanted to win. Over the summer when Olympics tickets were being won left right and centre, I heard of several compers who were actually told, "You weren't picked in the first draw, but the original winner couldn't produce their till receipt so we drew again and you won". And also a few weeks ago I heard of someone whose prize of a widescreen TV was withdrawn because they couldn't produce the coded pack of crisps they had entered with.

But what if the terms and conditions don't actually say that proof of purchase may be asked for? You might think that in that case the promoter had no right to request it - but read through the entry instructions. It is a standard part of setting competition rules that "instructions form part of the rules" and so if, anywhere  in the instructions, it says that you should buy a product, then you MUST buy it before you can enter the competition. The only time it is really absolutely safe to enter a competition without proof of purchase, is if the terms and conditions say "no purchase necessary" (and they aren't just  referring to residents of Northern Ireland, or in the case of certain alcohol competitions, Scotland).

And make sure you buy exactly the right thing - at the moment, Morrisons have a competition with Nestlé breakfast cereals. Although you only need to text, or write on your form, the barcode from one box of cereal, the instructions tell you that you must buy TWO packets. So make sure you have the receipt(s) for both!

Of course keeping all these till receipts, packs and codes can get you into such a mess that when you are asked to provide your proof of purchase, you have a mountain of them and can't find the one you need, so let me tell you about the way I organise all mine.

I have a ring binder filled with cheap plastic punch pockets. On the outside of each pocket is a sticker with the month and year. When I enter a competition where I need to keep the proof of purchase, I staple the receipt to the leaflet or empty pack and put it in the pocket corresponding to the closing date. Tins, bottles and jars have the receipt attached with a rubber band. I haven't evolved a proper filing system for these yet - I tend to balance them all on the bookshelf beside me until they get too cluttered and then sweep them all into a carrier bag and stick them in the corner of the spare room - but I'm sure you can come up with something better than that! But wherever you keep them, bear in mind that modern till receipts fade quickly in bright light, and that if they get too creased you can't flatten them by ironing as they may turn black all over. So try to keep them smooth and in a dark place.

Recently I've seen one or two competitions where the rules have said that multiple entries were allowed but winners would have to produce proof of purchase to support ALL their entries. If this is the start of a trend, I can foresee us all having some serious storage problems in moths to come!

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.