Sunday 14 October 2012

How to Win Competitions part 3 - Don't Miss the Deadline!

“You’ve got to be in it to win it”. How often have you heard that? And when it comes to competitions, that means you have to do your very best to make sure the promoter actually receives your entry – before the competition closes!

 Lots of competitions appear  in stores and supermarkets that have to be  actually handed in there and then – either literally handed over to a member of staff or posted into an instore posting box. But unfortunately sometimes those entries you hand over are tucked away into a drawer and forgotten about, and the posting boxes  are still lingering there days or weeks after the closing date, and sometimes filled up with sticky sweet wrappers and scraps of waste paper.

So if you have a choice between entering in store or by post, it’s often safer to splash out on a stamp. But if there is no postal option, choose the store where you   enter very carefully. Look out for a clean, tidy, lively one without any out of date offers on display. And if handing over to a member of staff, try to identify the most senior person you can, and engage them in conversation about the competition as you hand it in  to help them to remember to deal with it. You might joke “I’ll be back with a bottle of wine for you WHEN I win” (always a nice thing to do anyway) or ask them if they have had many entries so far.

 When it comes to postal entries, don’t forget that next day delivery for first class mail and the day after for second class is simply a target, not a guarantee. In fact first class mail sometimes takes up to a week to arrive. Add to that the fact that some PO Boxes are not checked at weekends, and if a closing date is on a Saturday or even a Monday  only post that has arrived by the preceding Friday might safely go into the hat, and you can see that you need to allow LOTS of time for your entries to get there.

 At least when entering online you’ll never be affected by postal delays, but don’t assume that every competition is open until midnight on the closing date. Very often they close earlier, and if it just closes “at the end of the working day” may not be mentioned in the rules. But do check the rules, as unusual closing times (like the surprisingly common one of 8 am!) are generally mentioned there.

However I would never advise entering online competitions at the last minute – websites can and do get technical problems and these can sometimes result in competitions failing to accept entries or even having to be removed completely, so when you spot a competition on a website, get your entry in quickly while you know it is working.  If a site you visit DOES have a technical problem, use the “contact us” link you will find  somewhere on the site to let them know – they may be wondering why they weren’t getting many entries, or even not planning to check the entries until after the closing date. But if the fault is over a weekend, don’t expect it to be fixed until during the working week. Many places don’t have any tech support over the weekend.

Email entry competitions can be subject to the same problems as online ones, with the extra complication that if they get a higher than expected entry, their mailbox may overfill, especially at weekends, so if your entry is returned with an error message, try again a few days  later.

You can never guarantee that an entry will never be lost, damaged or dealyed but following these tips will mean you have done your very best to get your entry there in time.

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