Promoters and prizes

Q) When you are given a choice of entry routes, do promoters favour one particular route?

I suggest that you enter by the cheapest and easiest entry route as promoters that offer alternative routes should judge them all equally and fairly.

Q) If I enter by a No Purchase Necessary route, do I stand the same chances of winning a competition?

Yes, I know many compers who have won prizes through NPN entry routes and if the competition is regulated fairly there should be no disadvantage to entering through a NPN route. The larger the promoter, (i.e. Heinz, leading supermarkets, Walkers crisps) the more confident you can be that they would not risk their brand reputation but running a competition unfairly.

Pat Armstron from Sussex won  £50,000 from a No Purchase Necessary route with Maxwell House and Kevin Booth from Sheffield won a trip to New York!

Q) Why do promoters ask for date of birth? Does this affect whom they choose to win the prize?

Finding out your date of birth is usually for marketing purposes - some companies like to know which age groups are most interested in their products.  But remember that some comps are open to only certain ages as stated in their rules – either under 18 for children’s comps or over 18 for adult only comps (winning alcohol, cars or holidays). You may be asked for your date of birth just to confirm that you are old (or young) enough to enter.

Other than this, your age should not discriminate you from winning a prize and if you feel that a promoter is being ‘ageist’ contact the Institute of Promotional Marketing for them to investigate.

Q) Who judges your entries and is this regulated fairly?

Smaller promoters and local competitions will usually choose someone unconnected to the prize to the competition to come and pick the winner – someone from another office or a respected member of the community.

Larger promotions run by national companies will usually ask a Response Management Houses to run the competition. Response Management Houses will collect the data (usually logging this onto a computer) and then draw a winner at random.

The Institute of Promotional Marketing regulates competitions to ensure that judging is carried out fairly. They have dedicated members who will be invited to be independent judges for draws and also sit on the panel of tie-breaker judges. Edwin Mutton, Director General of the ISP, has been in the Walkers crisp factory at 4.00am, making sure that winning tickets are distributed at random into packets on the factory floor!

Q) Do promoters accept late entries bearing in mind the delays that the Royal Mail sometimes have?

Unfortunately not. Promoters are strict on closing dates so make sure you give your entries plenty of time to reach their destination before a competition closes.

Q) If you live in Ireland can you enter UK competitions?

The terms and conditions for every competition will vary on this and are worded differently. If the terms state that the competition is open to residents of:

UK –

this should include Northern Ireland. But some promoters do not know their geography and were not intending to include Northern Ireland. Regulating bodies like the IPM are pushing these promoters to clarify exactly what they mean

UK and Northern Ireland –

this is more specific, and so it is clear exactly who can enter.

Mainland UK –

this rules out any of Ireland, the Channel Islands, Isle of Wight, Isle of Mann and the Outer Hebrides

UK and ROI –

this includes all of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has different rules on competitions than the UK. They do not run prize draws and all competitions must have an element of skill and judgement to enter.

Most competitions that include Northern Ireland and/or ROI will have a different address and telephone number to enter, so that post and prizes can be handled in Ireland.

Q) Do charities have to offer a No Purchase Necessary route of entry?

Registered charities do not have to offer a NPN route for raffles and prize draws. Similarly, neither does Government run raffles - the National Lottery being the largest.

Q) Are promoters obliged to make the list of prize winners available?

Yes promoters are obliged to provide a winner’s list, including the name and county of the winner. The terms and conditions will state how to obtain this list, whether by sending a SAE to the promoter or looking on their website.

Q) What happens if I am on holiday or out of the house and miss a prize parcel in the post?

If you are away when a parcel is delivered to you and you need to sign for it, or it is too large to fit through your door, it should be taken to the nearest post office collection point and you will be issued with a slip to retrieve it. My advice would be to act as quickly as possible on this so it doesn’t go astray! If you know you are going away on holiday for a long time, be aware of the closing dates of the competitions you have entered and ask a friend to check your post for possible slips or winning letters.

Q) How long should I wait for my prize after I have found out I am a winner?

Most prizes are issued within four weeks, though this depends on the promoter and the prize. Obviously if the prize is for tickets to an event in the near future it will be quicker than this. If you have not received anything from the promoter after four weeks, contact them to ask what is happening with your prize.

Q) How long does the promoter keep trying to contact the winner to offer them their prize?

The Institute of Sales Promotion’s ‘best practice’ code recommends that promoters try to contact the winner for four weeks, by telephone email and post  (one letter at least being sent Recorded Delivery). After this, if there is no contact then they can award the prize to the second name drawn. However if the prize is for an event in the near future (often competitions running in the Metro newspaper are for events the next day) then of course the second name has to be contacted immediately.

Q) What do I do if I can’t find an entry form at my local supermarket?

Unfortunately some supermarkets operate better than others at displaying the entry forms! It is a never-ending crusade amongst us compers to challenge the supermarket customer service desk to put out their entry forms - so do keep asking. If you know that a competition is running in that supermarket ask at the desk for a form (often they will be a pile waiting to go out)

Forms are usually distributed equally across the country from head office. It is wise to pick one up at your supermarket as soon as you see it, as they may run out.  You can speak or email the head office of a store and ask them for a form if you have no joy at the customer service desk.

Q) Can you enter a competition for somebody else?

There is no reason why not  - in theory you could enter a competition for everybody in your street, but beware, the person who is chosen as the winner is well within their rights to keep their prize! If you are entering for a family member make arrangements as to how you are going to split the prize, or who will have it. Also watch out for the terms and conditions that state ‘only one entry per household’.

Q) As a female is there any point in me entering competitions from largely male dominated magazines (e.g. Top Gear) and vice versa for men, would they give me the prize?

I should hope so. If it does not state in the terms and conditions that only a particular gender can enter then you have just as much right to win. I can see your worry though, as it is hard to imagine that Vogue would want to announce that Mr Jones from Blackpool has just won a women’s makeover session. But prizes can be given as presents. You could always enter these competitions in the name of another member of the family, as long as you agree on who has the prize.

Q) If you win a car, can you take a cash alternative? Will tax and insurance be included in the prize?

This depends on the competition, and will be made clear in the terms and conditions. Sometimes a cash alternative is available. Often you can have a choice of colour, upgrade the car or change to an automatic model. Many car prizes include one year’s free tax, but less often insurance.

Q) What do promoters class as ‘family’ when a competition states, “Win a Family Holiday”?  Does this always mean two adults and two children? Can a couple with no children still win the prize?

A “Family Holiday” prize is usually for two adults and two children (under 16). Read the full terms and conditions of an individual competition to be clear on this.

I have never known a promoter insist that a childless couple cannot go. Promoters are often flexible with the number of children and let a winner with a larger family pay to take additional children – occasionally I have heard of promoters even allowing additional children to go for free. However enter a competition expecting to follow the terms and conditions- then any added changes are a bonus.

When you enter a ‘family holiday’ competition you should take on board that the holiday resort will most likely be family orientated, so if you are looking for an exclusive romantic retreat, this may not be the prize for you.

If you do win a Family Holiday and don’t have children, explain to the promoter that you are delighted to have won the prize and although you don’t have kids you have always wanted to go to … (holiday destination) and do … (whatever is included in the trip) and see what you can negotiate.

Q) Are holiday prizes transferable - if I won a holiday, could I sell it or would I have to take it?

Most holiday prizes are not transferable; usually the winner has to take the trip, which will be stated in the competition’s terms and conditions. Some promoters are very good and do allow changes of destination (but you can’t enter a competition assuming this, if you win a prize to France, don’t expect to be able to go to Italy instead!). If you want a choice of destination, look out for competitions that offer holiday vouchers or cash alternatives instead of a set destination.