Saturday 30 March 2013

Comping all over the world!

Following on from yesterday's "historic" competition, here are two that were peiced up on people's recent travels. Not quite "all over the world" but I bet you're humming "Rockin. all over the world" now, aren't you?

First of all one that was picked up in Dubai  - the qualifier was to spend over £500!

And this one has come from Spain - just look at the name of the magazine it appeared in!

Friday 29 March 2013

Those were the days

I am occasionally given interesting entry forms from competitions from long ago or overseas - no use to enter now, of course, but still interesting. For instance, look at this one which was on the label of a pack of Co-op tights back in 1977.

The tights cost 22p a pair which using this handy calculator  means they would be about £1.07 now, and entrants needed to buy three pairs to get the tokens to enter, but just look at those prizes!
  • a silver Ford Fiesta Car
  • a trip to New York for two on QE2
  • a silver mink fur coat
  • 100 runners up prizes of £10 gift vouchers (about £50 in today's money)
I think if I'd been a comper then I might have been stockpiling tights!

Thursday 28 March 2013

Win six bottles of wine

Happy Easter! For most of us it is the last working day before a four day break. Wouldn't it be lovely to think we might get one of those balmy spring days when we could sit outside in the garden sipping a glass  of chilled Prosecco?

Well, at least we can dream of doing that later in the year, when we just MIGHT get some sunshine, as Bluffer's are giving one lucky winner six bottles of Prosecco - perfect to toast the sunshine with when it finally appears! And what's more,everyone who enters will be emailed a £60 discount voucher to spend with Naked Wines.

All you need to do to enter is pop your email address into the entry form, then sit back and wait until after the competition closes on April 30th to see if you have won.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Squashed Cross Bun

Some things are just not designed to be sent through the post, even if they are a prize. Hot cross buns come into that category, especially family sized tear'n'share ones. A jiffy bag just isn't enough protection.

On top of that the postage was £2.70 and the jiffy bag must have cost around £1. All for a product costing £1.49. A voucher would have been cheaper and easier to post, would have arrived unscathed and, if I hadn't already been a loyal Waitrose shopper, would have lured me into the store where I'd have probably done some other  shopping.

Anybody fancy a slice of hot cross bun flavoured chapatti?

A caption competition to win an iPad Mini

I do love a competition that makes me use my brain a bit, and I know a lot of you do too. We miss the traditional tiebreaker competitions, so it's great when a caption competition turns up, especially one with a photo that really gets you thinking. And 1st Choice Spares are running one at the moment - with a great prize of an iPad mini.

To enter, head  over to their competition page to take a look at the photo, and then follow the link to their Facebook page to submit your entry, which should be funny, observant and/or pro-recycling and  use no more than 20 words.  .

Do you remember back in January I told you about a mini-essay competition they ran? Well, they have published the winning essay now - you may like to read it to get some inspiration for your caption.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Win £100 with Penny Golightly - HURRY

Are you familiar with Penny Golightly? If you like to live well, yet are on a tight budget, it's the place to go for hints, tips and inspiration, and it's all done in a witty, fun-to-read way. Scrimping needn't be boring or miserable.

At the moment Penny has teamed up with Money Supermarket to look for the "10 Commandments of Savings" and readers are invited to send in their tips to enter the competition. Each tip that makes the final 10 will win £100!

Read about how to enter here  and don't forget, your tip needs to be about savingS - the money you are putting away for a rainy day - rather than about money saving in general. Washing out plastic containers and using them for seedling pots, as my husband does, may be a very thrifty idea but he'll have to save it for another competition!

You'll need to hurry though, the competition closes at 10.30 am on Friday 29th March.

City Loving photography competition - a reminder

Just a quick reminder for you - the City Loving competition to win a Samsung Galaxy camera closes on March 29th. I blogged about it last month, with links to all the entry pages for the various cities taking part. Don't miss your chance!

QUICK! Your child could win a family set of bikes!

Request an activity sheet in a participating Tesco café (Tesco cafés are odd, some are owned by other companies but are still Tesco cafés, others are completely independent, so you'll need to ask in yours) when buying a child's hot meal. They don't seem to give the sheets out automatically and getting them to part with one at all is like getting blood from a stone. Which ought to make this a low entry competition.

 Get your child, aged 12 or under, to colour the picture, and hand it in by 31 March.

The prize is a complete family set of bikes - 2 adult and 2 child bikes up to a value of £1,200 - with scooters for 10 runners up. The scooters are suitable for ages 6+
This is the A4 sized  form you are looking for - NOT a tiny form at the till  which is a free gift offer: buy 8 children's  meals to get a free set of cycle lights, also closing 31 March.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

2013 seems to be the year of goodbyes. First there was Loquax, at least in its original form (although the forums are now going from strength to strength), then there was Twit Cleaner, and now we are to wave goodbye to Google reader. As from June 1st, it will no longer exist - and that means if you follow any blogs with Google Friends Connect you will no longer be able to read them through Google Reader.  I don't know about you, but my morning treat has always been to sit down with a cup of tea and read through the blogs I follow. As there are almost 400 of them, related to my various hobbies and friends, visiting each one separately to see if anything new had been posted would take all day so it was great to have all the new posts collected in one place for me.

Even if you don't read blogs that way, you may be a blogger who has lots of followers through Google Friends Connect and be worried by the news. Do  those followers read your blog through Google Reader? Will Google's next step be to discontinue GFC? Will we bloggers lose all our followers and friends?

Not to worry, there ARE alternatives out there. Until quite recently the best known was Networked Blogs. I've always offered the option of following that way, but to be honest I've never personally found following blogs myself with it to be all that satisfactory, I can't find my way around and I seem to see old posts from some blogs and none at all from others. If you are better at handling it than I am, it might be the best alternative for you as it is popular and well established, but I was looking for something I'd be happy to use every day, and Networked Blogs didn't tick my boxes.

Next I looked at Yahoo's RSS feed. To allow people to follow this way, you need to add Blogger's "Subscription Links" gadget (which offers a couple of other options I've never heard of.... maybe I'll research them one day) and then people can read your posts on their Yahoo home page. As a blogger, it's easy to get people to follow you that way, but as a reader it can be quite cumbersone. I follow half a dozen blogs this way and any more would squeeze out all the photos of cute kittens clutter the page up too much.

Finally I took a look at Bloglovin'. I wasn't optimistic - for some reason I thought it was the exclusive territory of beauty bloggers. But I couldn't have been more wrong and oh my goodness it is SOOOOOO easy to use!

First of all you need to register with them, using the link above, then you are given the option of importing all the blogs you follow with Google reader. Just sit back and wait for a few minutes and there they are. What's more, you get the option of having a daily email with all the new posts from the blogs you  follow, so you can have your morning browse without ever straying from the comfort of your inbox. How good is that? And they even have an app for iPhone or IPad so you can read them on your way to work.

As a blogger, you can register your blog with them to get people to follow you that way. Register as above, go to the profile button at the top right and choose "My Blog" then click on the blue "Claim Blog" button and paste in the URL of your blog. You will be given a small piece of HTML code to add to your blog and then the job is done, And once you've claimed your blog, you will get a helpful email with tips and ideas.

I moved all the blogs I follow over to Bloglovin' and registered both the blogs I write with it. The whole thing, from starting registration to completing the work on both blogs, took less than 15 minutes.


If you are a blogger I hope my research above has helped you to decide how you are going to let your followers keep on reading your posts.

If you are one of my followers I strongly suggest following me with one of the above methods - or of course by email, so that all my blog posts land in your inbox where you can choose to save the ones that you think you may want to refer back to.

I'm going to post this on both Grape Vine and Onions and Paper in the hope that it may be of help to my friends and followers in both places.

Addendum: one reader is going to miss it so much, he's composed a song about it!

A Goodbye Song for Google Reader by Hit Reach

Tuesday 19 March 2013

When Your Tweets are favourited.

Have you ever looked at your Twitter interactions, seen that a tweet you sent has been favourited and wondered WHY????

If you are a  comper, the answer's often easy. The person who favourited your competition entry may be the promoter, using favourites as an easy way to collect entries, or they may be another comper. Perhaps they are busy at the moment and are using it as a handy way to mark things to look at when they have more time, or they may be on their phone and saving it so they can enter from a computer.

People often use favouriting in a similar way to Facebook liking, too, just a way of letting you know that they have read your tweet. Or if you've said something important, witty or topical, maybe they feel they will want to refer back to it.

All these are uses of the favouriting mechanism that have been around for a long time. But recently a new phenomenon has spring up - random tweets being favourited  by complete strangers. Sometimes you may be mid way through a conversation with a friend when one of the tweets is favourited; there seems to be no pattern to it at all.  Why is this happening?

Well, the person - or more likely, bot - that has favourited your tweet simply wants to draw your attention to themselves. If you get favourited by a stranger, it's only natural to go and look at their profile. And what you'll usually find if you do is a user with few or no followers, few or no tweets, and a profile that consists of a photo of a scantily clad woman and a link to a dodgy website.

Some of them are more creative than that though. Last week I looked  at one that had no tweets, just a profile that said "I favourited your tweet to bring you here and help you to learn about the work of Our Lord."  It isn't clear to me just HOW a page with no tweets on it was going to do that - I think that day, God was moving in a particularly mysterious way.

But now there is a new reason that your tweets may be getting favourited. A new company called Flattr is actually PAYING people whose tweets are favourited - but only when they are favourited by other Flattr users. So the random favouriters may be just testing the water, to see if you have an account and are maybe prepared to favourite them back. It looks like an odd service, and I don't really see what's in it for the people who pay to be favourited, but time will tell and maybe in a year or two we'll all be Flattring!

Monday 18 March 2013

Win a luxury shave kit

Bluffers Guide are giving away a luxury shave kit worth £68.00.

To enter, simply pop over to their competition page and leave your email address. The competition closes at noon on April 14th

Two very quick-to-enter competitions on Facebook

I hope those of you who had issues with your Facebook accounts last week are finding things calmer now. While we'll all welcome the removal of fake accounts from Facebook, it's very worrying to think that they think YOUR account might be fake. I certainly panicked when it happened to me, but I'm staying away from "Like and Share" competitions now as I think that might be what made them think I was a fake.

Here are two competitions that are run through apps, as they should be, but are still very quick and easy to enter. In each case, all you need to do is Like the page and complete the form.

The first is Baker Financial who are giving away a £100 Amazon voucher. This closes on April 3rd.

The second is LED Lights, who have prizes of £100, £50 and £25 to spend on the site  on offer. This closes on April 9th.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Fake competitions - the hows, whys and what-to-dos

You must have spotted them. The pages on Facebook or the Twitter feeds that have absolutely nothing but competitions, each one of them allegedly giving away generous prizes. An iPhone for a every 500 retweets? A fashion item for simply liking and sharing a photo - it's so easy to think "Yes please, I'll have some of that", click the button and wait for your prize.

And yes, the majority of "retweet and follow" or "like and share" competitions are genuine (I'm not going to get  into the whole to-like-and-share-or-not-to-like-and-share argument here, the Facebook situation is up in the air at the moment and even if there is a clampdown happening, the pages I'm talking about will find alternative ways of operating). Prizes are won, people are happy, and with luck the promoter gets more business. After all, that's the point of a competition - to raise the profile of the business, get people involved and interacting and with luck draw them in as customers.

But what happens when there is no apparent business involved? No sponsor, no promoter, just a page promising to give away masses of valuable prizes? I've looked in the past at comping hoaxes and scams - you can read the articles here  and here and here. But in all the examples  I've used, it's been possible to see, if you look carefully, what the scammer is trying to get out of it.

A new generation of competitions has arisen on both Twitter and Facebook, though, where it is impossible to see what they are going to get out of it. You don't have to authorise an app, you don't have to give them access to your details, you don't have to give them any personal information. It's easy to think, "Well it looks a bit odd but there can't be any harm in entering." And just look at the number of likers or followers they have - tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands. Surely they must be genuine.

The bad news is that they are NOT genuine - if there's no business to promote, it isn't a promotion. What do they get out of it? NUMBERS. And what good are these numbers?

Well, there are some businesses out there, either legitimate but lazy or operating outside the law, who are prepared to pay big money for a ready made Facebook or Twitter account with a large number of ready made fans. So the scammer sets up pages offering various types of prize, making liking the page and  sharing a post, or following it and retweeting it, a condition of entry. That way the word spreads rapidly and if the prizes are big enough, the fans will come flocking.

No prizes are ever given away though. When a certain number of fans has accrued, the page is sold to  a customer who will change the name of the page, delete all the competition posts and start posting their own promotions. It may be nothing to do with any of your interests and will almost certainly be something you wouldn't want to read. After all, if people wanted to read what the page had to say, they could have saved a lot of money by building up their fan base for free! What's more, if you are following them on Twitter the new owner can send you direct messages of the kind you may not want to read. Before I knew that this was going on, I occasionally had direct messages from people I was quite certain I'd never followed - now I realise I'd followed them when they were a different person, with a different name.

There are several fake competitions going on at the moment. Unfortunately I don't feel I can "name and shame" here because the sort of people who would run a scam like that would almost certainly be vindictive in their treatment of anyone who outed them, but if ever  you are in any doubt about whether a competition is genuine or not, send me a personal message on Facebook or Twitter (tweet me to ask me to follow you  if I don't already do so) along with a link to the competition and I will have a look and  tell you whether it is genuine.

If you come across a competition you are sure is fake, what do you do about it? Well on Facebook, use the cogwheel next to the "Message" button on the page to report it to Facebook - they'll probably ignore it but at least you can say you've done your bit, and all the little bits add up! On Twitter, report it as "Name Squatting" or Spam,  following the links on their Reporting Violations page  -once again, it's likely that nothing will happen but on the other hand, if nobody reports them,  it's guaranteed that nothing will happen.

And if you've already liked the page or followed the account, unlike and unfollow then when they morph into something completely different you will be blissfully unaware!

Win a year's worth of cleaning products

National Spring Cleaning week starts on March 18th - will you be celebrating? That's the date of my husband's birthday so maybe I'll hand him a mop and duster and tell him that's his birthday treat.....

But Dishmatic are celebrating in a much better way - by giving away a year's worth of cleaning and dishwashing products worth £50.

To enter, simply pop over to their competition page  and fill in the form - you can get extra entries through Twitter and Facebook too.

The competition closes on April 30th.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Tweet your money saving tips to win!

Scottish Friendly want to hear your top saving tips! The prizes up for grabs are 10 £25 M&S Vouchers (One per winner) and to enter all you need to do is follow @scotfriendly on twitter and then tweet your tip starting with the hashtag #simplesavingtips. You must also include @scotfriendly in your tweet. You can enter up to once per day between now and the 1st April 2013. Full details here.

Three quick new competitions for you....

... and not a "Like and Share" to be seen. Phew!

The first up is from Car Body Bids. Pop over to their Facebook page, Like it and then complete the form. Closing March 20th.

The next is a Twitter competition from Frugaller Forum. Read about it here and follow the instructions for retweeting the necessary tweet for a chance to win a £50 Amazon voucher. This closes on March 31st.

Finally Accident Advice Helpline who are giving away a Kindle Fire. Just like them and complete the form on their Facebook page by April 2nd.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

The Creatively Different Blind competition - result and stats

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition I ran to win a £300 roller blind  - it closed at midnight (-ish...... I'm never quite certain about finishing times where rafflecopter is involved!) and the winner was drawn this morning. So a huge round of applause to

Yvonne Brownsea

who is going to be able to add a touch of really novel and individual style to one room in her home.

However, Yvonne wasn't actually the first person picked. The first name out of the hat was checked against the list of people signed up to the Creatively Different newsletter - and hadn't signed up. Signing up was one of the rules of the competition, and the first entry option, without which the other options would not unlock. The original winner had ticked the box to say they had signed up - yet they hadn't done it.

So another winner was drawn. This time, we didn't even get as far as checking  whether they had signed up to the newsletter. The entry was supposedly a Twitter one - but they had NOT pasted the URL of the tweet into the space, so it was impossible to check they had entered.

The third name out of the hat was Yvonne. Yvonne had done everything exactly as she had said she had, so her entry was completely valid and we are delighted to be able to award her the prize.

Now here are some facts and figures - they surprised me and made me realise why some people say "I never win anything".

Because of the points awarded to different entry methods, there were a total of 5107 entries, representing 1436 separate entries from just over 400 unique people.

HOWEVER of those 400, all of whom were required by both the Rafflecopter widget and the rules to sign up to the newsletter or already be signed up. only 120 actually did sign up. THAT MEANS 280 PEOPLE SAID THEY HAD SIGNED UP WHEN THEY DIDN'T. Do you really think that promoters don't check? Of course they do!

160 people said they had left a blog post comment - but only 141 comments were actually left. 19 PEOPLE SAID THEY HAD COMMENTED WHEN THEY HADN'T.

Just over 400 entries claimed to have tweeted - but only 360 had pasted the URL of the tweet into the box (not counting the few who had had problems copying and pasting on a mobile and told me - I excused them). Of those who didn't paste in the URL of the tweet, some just pasted the text of the tweet or the URL of the competition and some gave their Twitter names. None of those counts - it MUST be the URL of the tweet, otherwise your entry can't be verified. If you don't know how to give the URL of  a tweet, check my guide. But what really mystified us were the "alternative" uses of the space for the URL..... some were left blank, or said things like "nice prize" or "hope I'm lucky" and the one that puzzled us most of all said "225".

I don't have access to the Creatively Different Twitter or Facebook profiles, but I imagine similar non-entries were made using those entry routes too. So overall, around a quarter of the entries were disqualified. The same sort of figure that crops up over and over again in all kinds of competitions run by all kinds of people.

I've said this time and time again, and I'm sorry to bang on about it but if you ever want to win anything, it is vital that you read the instructions and the rules and follow them to the letter.  Promoters DO check, and they DO disqualify, and if you are not entering correctly you could spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week entering competitions and never win a thing.

On the other hand, if,  like Yvonne, you ARE entering correctly, it might cheer you up to know that in almost every competition, a quarter of the people you think you are up against will be disqualified!

And if you are wondering whether I practice (or should it be practise? I hate that pesky word!) what i preach, I've had five wins so far today so I must be doing something right!

Win a stunning Creatively Different Designer Blind, worth up to £300 brings you a distinctively different design concept in window blinds to change the style of your home. whether you are looking for something subtle, or want to make a bold funky statement. Take inspiration from their extensive Gallery where you will find over 6500 images from some of the world’s most creative minds, past and present. With images to suit every age, style and taste, they can create for you a Designer blind -whether it be a Venetian, Roman, vertical, panel or roller – that is truly individual, and will add an exciting new dimension to any room in your home.
You could go for a bold floral design to brighten up your bedroom

Orange Strelitzia by Assaf Frank

Or a buzzing metropolitan scene that would look great in an urban flat or a teenager's room

                                           Crosstown Traffic by Neil Dawson

In fact whatever your style, they have an image and type of blind to suit you. But if you'd prefer one made from your own photo, they can do that too!

One lucky  reader can win a £300 voucher to spend with them, and everyone who enters is entitled to a £50 voucher off a minimum £250 spend.

To enter, follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below - if it doesn't appear for you, refresh the page and it should show up. The first task, signing up for the newsletter, is mandatory. The other tasks will earn you extra entries and will be unlocked once you have completed the first.

SPECIAL OFFER! Creatively Different have just announced that if the winner has ordered a blind from them during the period of this competition  they can choose to take their prize as a refund against the blind they have already bought, or of course use it to buy another one.

Note:  please ensure the address you sign up to the newsletter with is the same one you sign in to Rafflecopter with, otherwise your entry cannot be verified. This is especially important if you sign in with Facebook as some of you use different email addresses for Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions

1. Free prize draw – no purchase necessary.

2. Closing date Monday March 11th 2013
3. No bulk, automated or third party entries.

4. Winner will be picked at random, and will be notified within 7 days of the closing date.

5. There are no cash alternatives

6. Winners will be contacted directly by Creatively Different regarding choice of image they wish to have on their blinds and for size/specification details.

7. In the event of the value of the blind chosen exceeding the £300 prize value, the prize winner will be responsible for the additional cost.

8.  £50 Discount prize vouchers will be mailed to all entrants within 14 days of the prize winner being announced. Redeemable against a minimum purchase of £250.00

9. By entering this competition you are agreeing to subscribe to receive promotional newsletter from Creatively Different Blinds and PJI. You can unsubscribe at any time but must receive a newsletter in order to do this.

10. Entrants must supply a valid email address.

Listed at:  
ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions
UK Competitions and Prize Draws at UKwins

Goodbye Twit Cleaner - what can we do now?

For as long as I can remember  on Twitter,  I and hundreds of other compers have been using Twit Cleaner regularly to tidy up the people we follow.

As compers, we need to follow a LOT of people: other compers both for friendly chat and to help each other to find competitions, the promoters that are running current competitions, those who regularly run them, those who we've followed for a competition and then engaged with and enjoy the company of or like to see the latest offers from, and the bloggers who have made following them on Twitter a task for one of their competitions. Add to that personal friends and family,  people connected with other hobbies, local businesses, weather forecasts, traffic reports, Father Christmas and (probably) Stephen Fry and you are looking at a huge number of people to follow.

However until you reach almost 2,000 followers yourself, you can't follow more than 2,000 people. And when you get over the 2,000 mark, you can only follow 10% more people than follow you. So we need a quick and easy way to check the people we follow and choose who to unfollow.

For that, Twit Cleaner was a dream. It analysed your account, and gave you a list of people who hadn't tweeted for more than a month, didn't follow you, tweeted nothing but links, tweeted only through apps so that their feeds were automated and so on. You could choose who to unfollow and in just a few clicks you could remove those you didn't want to follow any more.

So why am I talking about it in the past tense? Well this week Si Dawson, who ran Twit Cleaner, decided to call it a day. You can read the full explanation of why here but in a nutshell, Twitter's changes had made it too difficult for him to make it work properly any more.

What can we do now to prune our accounts? Go through our the list of people we follow, checking every account one by one? Well, there ARE other apps out there that can help, although they each have their plus and minus points and you may find you need to use more than one of them to do everything that Twit Cleaner did. Quite a few simply give you a list of those who don't follow you  back - not much help to a comper, as you wouldn't normally expect the businesses you follow in order to  enter a competition to follow you back unless  you win, in which case they will probably follow you for long enough to let you Direct Message your contact details.

I've been trying out a few and here are my findings:

Qwitter simply tracks who unfollowed you. If you look at your Twitter activity column regularly you will notice you get far more new followers than the increase in your follower count reflects. This is because of the number of "bots" who follow you in the hope that you will follow them back - at which point they will unfollow you. That way they have boosted their follower count by hooking you in, but by regularly monitoring who has unfollowed you, you can identify those you have followed - and unfollow THEM. The downside is that the report is in the form of a weekly email, not much help if you are in the mood to purge NOW!

Friend or Follow produced three screens - one of people you follow who don't follow you back, one of people who follow you and one where the following is mutual. It's not as easy to extract the info you want as most of the other sites, and can be quite slow BUT it does show you cute kitty videos  while you wait! The results are shown as a rather overwhelming display of avatars and you have to hover over each to get info about the person and an unfollow button, so if you follow a lot of people it can be slow to use.

Just Unfollow gives you lists of followers, non followers among those you follow, recent unfollowers and people who you follow who haven't tweeted for over a month. You "pay with a tweet" for some of the services and once you've decided who to unfollow it is very easy to do it. You can only unfollow 50 people a day unless you upgrade to a paid account.

Manage Flitter probably the most popular, after Twit Cleaner, and the easiest to use. It has all the usual lists, which you can arrange in various orders using the column headings and very quickly unfollow up to 2,600 people a day. This is the one I'll be using from now on - but with one note of caution. If you choose to use the "fake following" option, use it with care. On my account, just three people are listed as fakes. But they are all people I know are NOT fakes  - one of whom I know in real life and they would be very hurt indeed to know they had been flagged  up as  a fake. Not one of the three does anything in particular to merit having their account flagged up as fake, so I really don't know what parameters they must be using!

One final tool you might consider using is BitDefender  where you can check a Twitter user's credentials before you follow them - it might save having to do a bit of pruning later on!

Monday 11 March 2013

Is there a plumber in the house?

A new competition open only to plumbing installers is offering a prize of £3,000 of Virgin holiday vouchers, £800 of Leisure Vouchers and 4 x family Go Ape experiences. The task is to submit a photo of a sink plug in an unusual water based location. Any comping plumbers out there could have great fun with this one. Entry is at Phileas Plug where you can see the current entries in the gallery (just 7 when I looked) and the closing date is 30  Sep.

Win a Google Nexus 7" Tablet

Here's a new competition from My Social Radio - but this time it's a competition with a difference.

In order to enter, you need to download their new toolbar, available for IE, Firefox, Mac or Chrome. The toolbar lets you listen to the radio while you browse, and also has very handy Google search and Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest sharing buttons - a great boon for compers searching for things to include in Pinterest comping boards.

Once you've downloaded the toolbar, there will be a banner on it to click in order to enter the competition - that's all you need to do!

The competition closes on march 29th.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Win a suit from High and Mighty

Are you on the hunt for a new job or looking to get that tailored feel? Well, enter High and Mighty's  competition to win a bespoke suit, shirt, shoes and tie
There is a second prize of a customised shirt and three further prizes of £50 Amazon vouchers.

You can enter by Liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, tweeting about the competition or writing a blog about your dream job and then sending them the link- all of which you do using the Rafflecopter widget on their competition page

They've even provided the Rafflecopter widget so that you can enter directly from here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Winner will be announced on the High and Mighty Website at the competition URL:

Terms and Conditions – The competition is open to UK residents aged 18 and over. Entrants must enter the competition by 31st March 2013 to be entered into the prize draw. Only one entry per person will apply. The prize draw is not open to employees (or members of immediate families) of the JD Williams Group or PushOn integrated. No purchase necessary. The winner will be selected at random and notified by email by 7th April 2013. No cash alternative is available for this prize. The prize must be redeemed in a High and Mighty store only. Late entries will not be accepted. The decision by High and Mighty is final and no correspondence will be entered into. High and Mighty reserve the right to alter, amend or withdraw this prize draw without prior notice should unforeseen circumstances make this unavoidable. Entry into this prize drawn is acceptance of these rules. Entries that do not comply with these rules in full will be disqualified. High and Mighty is a trading division of JD Williams and Company Limited. Registered office: Griffin House, 40 Lever Street, Manchester, M60 6ES. Reg No. 178367.

Friday 8 March 2013

The latest from Chocolate Log Blog

An emergency biscuit tin - isn't this a great idea?

Well, there are two of these to be won over at Chocolate Log Blog  - just head over there and use the Rafflecopter widget to get yourself up to 7 entries, with extra entries for daily tweets. You have until April 2nd to enter.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Win free airport parking for a year!

To celebrate the results of a new frequent flyer survey, in which Manchester airport received high marks from passengers on ease of travel, staff friendliness and arrival procedures, Purple Parking are launching a competition for holidaymakers to win a year’s worth of airport parking (valid at Manchester and Heathrow). To enter passengers are asked to submit a short ‘airport anecdote’: a happy experience they’ve had at the airport, via the company’s website. To find out more and enter visit the Manchester parking page here. Your anecdote can be about any airport, but the prize is valid for Machester and Heathrow.

Competition closes on Monday 1st April 2013. Entries will be judged by Purple Parking and notified via email. Full terms and conditions are on the website.

Award winning Purple Parking, the UK's largest airport car parking operator, has specialised in airport car parking within the Business and Leisure travel market for over 20 years. The company is known for its excellent service and with its consistently competitive prices it is favoured by many customers travelling from the UK.

The things we do for comps!

It is vitally important to check the terms and conditions of a competition  before you enter. Not doing so can lead to the horrible disappointment of being told you have won a prize, only to have it snatched away again when you turn out to have unwittingly broken a rule, for instance being in the wrong age group or not having a required till receipt.

When you are entering a competition online, you can usually simply click on a link to access the rules. But sometimes, promoters make it so difficult for us to read the rules that it makes me wonder whether they feel they have something to hide, or are maybe hoping to have so many incorrect entries  that it is easy to choose a winner.

Competitions advertised on posters and display stands in shops can be the worst culprits. All too often we see a sign just telling us to text a code to a number, without mentioning that a purchase is needed. Last year, for instance, a huge poster in WHSmiths told us to text a code for a chance to win a Mini. So lots of people will have done that without realising they also had to buy a HUGE and quite expensive bar of chocolate.

But for people who subscribe to my magazine Grape Vine, there are no such worries. I go to great lengths to check the terms and conditions and point out any obscure details (find out more about Grape Vine in the links at the top of the page). And sometimes that means going to extraordinary lengths.

Those dump bins in supermarkets that have vague details of a competition splashed across the top and then the terms and conditions written in tiny print at the bottom - or even across the bottom of the back - are the worst culprits. Amazingly enough I've never been questioned by the staff for the attention I give the displays, often rearranging the stock on display or lying on the floor to get a closer look. Sometimes the print is so tiny I have to take my glasses off and press my nose right up against the display to read it. So picture me, lying on the floor of Tesco, nose pressed to the display, one arm holding my glasses high in the air so that nobody wheels a trolley over them, the other frantically scribbling notes, or taking photos on my camera - and nobody bats an eyelid! Maybe the staff in Tesco are used to me by now and expect such behaviour from me. Or perhaps that's just normal behaviour in Aldershot?

Yesterday at the petrol station I did get some odd looks though - dotted around the forecourt were bollards advertising a competition on Lucozade. Once again, the terms and conditions were in tiny print at ground level - and I really didn't want to lie on the oily floor of the forecourt. So I picked up a bollard and placed it on top of my car, where the small print was at eye level. I think the staff thought I was planning to drive away with the bollard perched on top of my car.

So if ever I get arrested for suspicious behaviour, I promise you it was all in the line of duty!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

zulily's March Instagram Competition

The theme for this month's zulily Instagram competition is "Cuties Getting Crafty" and the prize is  a £100 zulily voucher to spend on, a Little Helper Wooden 4-in-1 ArtStation and a Juicy Couture bag for Mum

This month they want to see photos of your little cuties painting, playing with playdough, using wooden blocks or just getting messy. My granddaughter loves sticking stuff together, creating a lovely gluey mess - that's good too! Regular entrants will know the score now but here's a reminder of how to enter.

  1. Upload an Instagram snap of your little cutie getting crafty in March
  2. Make sure your profile is public, so that they can see your photo.
  3. You need to follow zulilyUK on Instagram (@zulilyUK) and tag your picture with three things:

  • #zulilyUKMarchCutiesCompetition
  • @zulilyUK
  • and either: #zulilynewbie (if you’re new to zulily) or #zulilian (if you’ve already joined zulily)

The competition closes on Sunday 31st of March. Because it’s Easter they’ll be shortlisting on Wednesday 3rd of April and if you win they'll contact you via Instagram comments - so don't forget to check your comments!
The winner will be announced on their blog no later than Friday 5th April. The Ts&Cs are here. If you haven’t already joined zulily, do come on over!


Tuesday 5 March 2013

I can't walk on water....

..... neither can  I fly unaided. And I suspect you can't either. (If you CAN walk on water, then Hello, Sir, I'm very honoured that you are reading my blog.)

In fact I'm a flightless bird. As is this.

Which means that if I win a holiday in another country, I expect the prize to include a way to get me there. I can't walk there, I can't fly there, and if I can't get there it isn't much of a prize.

Yet is it quite common to see competitions where flights are not included in the prize. Only this week I saw one where the prize was a  week in a Caribbean resort. I picked a random week and had a look at the value of the prize and  the  possible cost to the winner:

Cost of one week all -inclusive for two people without flights £2,050.00

If the prize had included flights, it would have been worth £3,800 - so you might think to yourself that it's still worth entering because you had budgeted to spend £1,800 on next year's holiday. But hang on, that's the cost of buying the complete package. If you have a no-flights package you have to book the flights yourself and lose any potential saving. Booking scheduled flights for two people to go on that holiday would cost - and this is the cheapest I could find  - £2,800.  The is more than the value of the prize.

Flight-only prizes can work out equally expensive if you buy the very best hotel accommodation, but at least you can use the flights to visit friends or family, or stay somewhere less expensive. And if a prize only includes flights, it is almost always clear from the outset, where as accommodation only prizes often have the fact hidden deep in the terms and conditions, and occasionally not mentioned at all until the winner is contacted.

So before you enter a holiday competition, always check carefully to see what is included, and if an important element is missing, make absolutely you can actually afford to win!

If I cover a holiday competition in the Grape Vine magazine or update, I always check the terms and conditions carefully and tell you if flights are not included, but when you enter other competitions it's up to you to check. And if you are ever told that a holiday prize you have won doesn't include flights, and you are absolutely certain that it wasn't mentioned anywhere in the promotional material or terms, you have an excellent case for complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority and the Institute of Promotional Marketing. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Two great competitons for pet lovers

Pets and House have got two great competitions running for pet lovers.

Their first is for a £20 Amazon voucher. To enter,  visit their Facebook page  and Like it, then the Rafflecopter widget will appear, giving you chances to enter via Facebook and Twitter. This  closes  on March 24th.

The second is for a £10 Amazon voucher. For this, you need to post a photo of your pet at their most relaxed on their Facebook page and will close when the page has 500 Likes.

There's no voting involved (hooray!) - it's going to be properly and fairly judged. The page is run by somebody who is a fellow comper and understands how important that is, so please give it your support!

I don't have a pet at the moment so here is a photo of a baby coati to make you say "aaah"