For some reason, there are those in the hobbyist community that develop a hang-up over who enters and for whom they enter. I have seen so much nonsensical flack over people who enter friends and family in a contest is somehow “cheating” when it really isn’t.

Read and follow the rules! Somebody entering a friend or a mother or a brother that has a unique address, phone number, email address along with all other information is NOT cheating. It is good old fashioned neighborly love. I caution those that do enter others besides themselves to have an agreement ahead of time on what happens with the prize. Don’t expect a friend that you entered to take you on that dream vacation to Mexico if you didn’t agree on those conditions ahead of time.

As an example, we have an Aunt in Montreal that is in her late 70s and considered to be legally blind. She still loves to go to live shows and orchestra venues. We enter her in many local Montreal newspaper, TV and radio contests that are available online. She does not own a computer or have access to the internet and neither of those are requirements in the rules to enter or win the contests. In fact I have not seen an online contest that does require those things in the rules in order to be a winner – and we likely never will because that would be just stupid.

So, our aunt gets to enjoy a few free shows every year as a part of our entering efforts.

The other item that has never appeared in the rules for an online, mail-in or ballot-based sweepstakes is any requirement for the person filling in the ballot to fill only their own name and address information on that ballot. Last I checked, North America is made up of several free nations that allow their citizens to live and work within their rules and laws. Nobody has outlawed or written any rules against being a good friend or a good relative by trying to tell entrants that they cannot post entries for their fellows. That would be just foolish and likely reduce the value of a promotion to Nil.

Good Luck and Good Winning.

One thing that entrants seem to forget or as I prefer to call us: Winners! – It isn’t about the prize for anyone involved in the cost except for us. We are the only ones focused on the prizes in these promotions, whereas for the sponsors of the contest – the prize(s) are the write-off at the end of a promotion. So, everyone involved in the process except us will regard it this way.

However, with that said – this shouldn’t diminish the value of awarding that prize to anyone involved in the process. Awarding the prizes is what separates real contests and sweepstakes from scams and fraud. So, there is a responsibility to the sponsor and the promotion management firm to deliver those prizes to the selected winners. Does this mean that they do it effectively? efficiently? or in your best interest? Not necessarily.

As winners, we have to take some of the responsibility for ensuring that we collect on those prizes, be they large or small. Otherwise the sponsor and more often the 3rd parties involved in operating the contest or even another 3rd party that gets assigned to fulfill the prizes will drag their feet, lose information or just outright fail in their execution of delivering prizes to winners.

This is a call to entrants and winners to take ownership of ensuring that you get your wins! Always keep a log or a spreadsheet of your wins. Write down and log the information from phone calls, print e-mails or copy mailings that you receive for a win. Information is your ally in the process of collecting a prize that doesn’t seem to be coming in a reasonable amount to time.

If you found your win from a web posting or a listing in a news paper, print or cut out that winning list with your name in it. Printing a web list from your browser will include the site and page details on the header/footer. Newspaper or magazine listings

Never hang-up from a phone-based win notification without the name and phone # of contact person to get back to in case there is a problem. When you receive mail-based affidavits or request forms that need to be returned to the source, make note of any contact information that was on the envelope or on a letter inside. Make a photocopy of any forms that you have to return to a company. Mail can and does get lost – having a copy will allow you to resubmit your forms quickly in case something doesn’t get delivered. You can also look at opportunities with your local postal station where paying a little extra will give you a signature verification of delivery or even a full tracking # on your envelope/package.

Never freak out! Getting nasty or yelling and screaming at people is not usually very inspiring for others to help you. When in doubt – escalate. Push to get to managers and executives that you can contact at the sponsor or the promotion company that will discuss your missing win. Problems and delays do occur that are outside of the control of those companies. Sometimes a sponsor makes arrangements with third parties such as travel companies or electronics companies to provide the prizes for their contest. Explore how a gift certificate or some other remediation may be employed to get you the value of your prize when the product or service doesn’t seem to be available to the sponsor.

Worst case scenario, know your state or provincial regulatory agencies to report contests that don’t deliver or seek the assistance of a 3rd party that may have more clout in the industry.

Good Luck & Good Contesting!