Wednesday 10 October 2012

How to Win Competitions Part 2- Make Your Entry Count

So you've found a competition and decided to give it a go? Great - good luck! But  before you enter, you need to check that you actually CAN enter.

The very first thing to look at is the closing date. Shops often have leaflets and packs on the shelves long after a competition has closed. In fact just today I was in a shop that had out-of-date leaflets for at least half a dozen competitions on display. And   websites very often leave the entry page showing after a competition has closed. Don't be fooled into thinking that because the form submits for you, you've still  managed to enter - your entry will just land in an abandoned inbox somewhere and be wasted.

Now check where the competition is based.  If you are looking for competitions online, especially on  Facebook, you may bump into competitions run by companies in the USA or the Republic of Ireland. Some clues that a site is based outside the UK are prices quoted in any currency other than £, and times given in any form other than GMT and BST.  For legal reasons,  these, and ones run in other non-UK companies, are often not open to UK residents. Look at the terms and conditions - it may specify the country(-ies) it is open to. And if it doesn't, and you really fancy entering,  check with the promoter. On Facebook, you can just write on their wall, on a website you will need to find the "contact us" page. But remember, if you win something from outside the EU, you may have to pay duty on it when it arrives in the UK!

One more thing to check is any age restrictions. These will always be stated in the rules, if they exist. For instance, in alcohol related competitions you will need to be over 18 to enter, or over 21 if the competition is also open in the USA. Some holidays will be provided by companies that specialise in holidays for certain age groups, like 18-30 or over 55,  and if a holiday prize includes car hire, you will need to be over 21, 25 or even 30 depending on the type of car on offer and the country where the holiday is to be taken.

Once you are sure you are entitled to enter,  make absolutely sure that you read the instructions. Around 1 in 5 of the entries to every competition get discarded for some reason - maybe the person has entered twice when only one entry is allowed, or they have been asked "what is your favourite colour" and they have replied "I would love to win this prize". Remember, if your entry follows the instructions it WILL end up in the hat, so with 1 in 5 of your rivals' entries likely to be discarded, your chance of winning has already gone up by 20%!

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