Sunday 26 May 2013

What do you do with unwanted prizes?

Unwanted prizes? Surely that's a joke? Every prize is loved and wanted!

Yet even the most careful comper, who never enters for anything they don't want, can find themselves with things turning up that they have no use for. I'm not talking here about those compers who enter for anything saleable, in order to earn themselves some money - they already know what they are going to do with everything that turns up. I'm talking about those of us for whom prizes are much-appreciated treats for ourselves, our friends and our families.

How come we win things that we don't want? How about these scenarios......
  • You misread the prize description. You were so excited when you read that you could win shoes, you didn't notice they were horse shoes or brake shoes.
  • You'd been trying ever-so hard to win the item. There was something you really needed, so you went all-out to win it, entering every competition you could find. And then won more than one. In one such episode, I won FOUR microwave ovens in the space of a few weeks.
  • Your situation has changed since you entered the competition. You really wanted to win tickets to the show, but  between entering the competition and being told you had won, you've booked a holiday or a family member has gone into hospital.
  • You didn't enter THAT competition. It occasionally happens, for instance when a magazine is running several competitions at once, that some entries go into the wrong "hat" so yours is pulled out of one it should never have been in. I've just received some running kit (OK, you can stop laughing now.....) and I'm pretty certain that what I entered for was a bottle of perfume.
  • There were several different prizes and although you fancied some of them, they didn't all appeal to you.
  • It wasn't clear what the prize was. This is often the case with the daily Advent competitions at Christmas time. Often you aren't told what the prize for that day is until after you've entered,  by which time it's too late to decide you don't want it.
  • You hadn't realised the prize had to be collected from somewhere too far from you to be worth the journey or had to be taken on a certain date. It's always worth checking the terms and conditions because any restrictions like that should be made clear in them.
So you don't to be an over-enthusiastic novice, entering for everything in sight, to find yourself with the occasional unwanted prize. Here are some suggestions for getting rid of them:
  • Refuse the prize. That's not as hard as it sounds, especially if the prize is tickets to an event, as long as you are contacted by the promoter first and the prize doesn't just turn up out of the blue. Reply to them saying "I'm dreadfully sorry but something's come up and I can't make it - could you draw another winner instead please?" Most promoters will be impressed by how generous you are being!
  • Give it away. I'm sure we all give prizes to friends and family, but how about making a donation to charity - your local charity shop, or better still a charity that is having a raffle or auction where they will be able to get much more for the prize than the shop would. If you are planning to give things to a charity shop, remember they are not allowed to take electrical goods - not even if they are still sealed in the original packaging. Depending on the prize, a local school, hospital, care home or animal home might be grateful for it. If nobody else wants it, you could try your local Freecycle or Freegle group, although they are more usually used for second hand goods.
  • Sell it or swap it. For most of us, eBay is the first place that springs to mind when selling stuff. But listing fees, selling fees, PayPal fees and the cost of postage soon mount up, and there is always a risk that you might not get many bids on your item. Also eBay has very strict rules about the sale of tickets. There are other places you can sell online, such as Amazon Marketplace and, for tickets, Viagogo. But I've found that better than any of these is the display stand in my local supermarket, where you can advertise unwanted goods free of charge. Almost every time I've advertised there, my phone has been ringing before I even got home from placing my card, and of course there are no postage charges and no selling fees. Search Facebook to see if your town or area has a dedicated sell-or-swap group that you can join.  Some online comping forums, too, have their own dedicated sell-and-swap boards where you can advertise. Swapping websites are springing up all over the internet, just try searching Google for "swap your unwanted goods" - but if you know nothing about the site you are using, don't make your first swap something really valuable!
  • Get cheeky. Don't try this too often, but just occasionally when you take an unwanted prize into a shop that stocks the item, they will swap it for something else. Obviously you have no receipt, and there is nothing wrong with the goods so you can't insist on them swapping it, but if the item is in perfect, saleable condition they just might be generous enough to help you out, especially if you are wanting to swap for something very similar, for instance a garment or accessory in a different style or colour. I've only ever done this with computer games, where I have won one format and successfully swapped for the same game in a different format.  But as long as you are prepared to accept a definite "No!", there's no harm in asking!
Ideally, everything we won would be loved by us, but I hope I've given you some ideas about how every prize can be loved by somebody.


  1. Replies
    1. And you're still waiting for the horse to go with them?

  2. im a ebayer myself :) have made alot of money selling unwanted prizes and it all helps towards christmas and holidays for me!

  3. i love winning items for family etc, some unwanted items i give away for school raffles etc i try not to enter for items i wont be using as i feel bad taking the prize away from someone else who would love to win it.

  4. I did win a couple of runner up prizes last year.
    I didn't want them, so I sold them on eBay for charity and sent 100% of the profits to Endometriosis Research.
    I only ever enter comps for things I really want. If I ever end up with something that is no longer needed, I would give it to friends or family who would want it.
    If it wasn't of interest to my entourage, I would tell the promoter to re-draw.
    I wouldn't feel fair to re-sell a prize on eBay for my own benefit or profit


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