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Comping Questions: When things go wrong

Fri, 2012-03-09 13:53

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Comping is a fun hobby, but when things go wrong who should you contact? Today’s post is some of your common questions about your prize queries and promotion problems, and some advice on making a complaint.

The important websites you should be aware of are:
ASA: Advertising Standards Authority - www.asa.org.uk
IPM: Institute of Promotional Marketing - www.theipm.org.uk
CAP: Committee of Advertising Practice - www.cap.org.uk

I received notification of my prize, but still haven’t received it - what can I do?
Promoters should attempt to deliver your prize within 30 days after either notifying you of your win or 30 days after claiming your prize, whichever is later. If it has been more than this then you should contact them and ask politely when you might expect to receive the prize. If you don’t get a response then you could search for the company’s phone number online – you may be passed from one company to another, but persevere until you speak to the relevant person. Often, you will be notified you’ve won a prize by a magazine and then an agency will organise prize delivery: sometimes the communication channels don’t work and they need chasing. Try not to get stressed out on the phone, as most of the time people DO want to help you out! If there’s still no sign of your prize after 40 days since the initial notification or claiming then you should say that you will go to either IPM or ASA if this is not sorted within (for example) 7 days.

What if my prize isn’t what was advertised?
Have you got a copy of the competition details, or a link? If the link has gone you could try googling the details to see if Google has a cached version of the site. Take a screen grab so you have all the information. Email the promoter with a link to the original prize details and politely explain that what you’ve received isn’t what was originally specified. Only if you don’t receive a reply via email, should you consider venting on their Facebook page or on Twitter. it’s an easy option to take your gripe straight to public forums, but most companies are friendly and will be happy to help, particularly if it’s a problem that can be settled privately! Be careful with venting on Facebook, be too aggressive and it may work to your disadvantage. If you still have no joy, you can take your complaint to the IPM or ASA.

I’ve won a prize and the company has disappeared from Twitter and Facebook
This isn’t a good sign. The promotion is likely to have been a scam, or they’ve gone bust; in either case you’re unlikely to get your prize. If there’s any trace of the competition or the company on the Internet then you could send these links to complaints@theipm.org.uk and ask for advice. I always recommend if you enter a competition, ask for a link to the terms and conditions at the start – most Twitter and Facebook competitions don’t have them and if things go wrong then unfortunately you’ve got nothing to refer to.

I keep seeing voting competitions on Facebook but I think they’re unfair. How do I complain?
Facebook accepts no responsibility for competitions hosted on the site, so you can’t complain or report promotions to them. Instead, you should contact the page directly: for bigger brand pages, your message is likely to be responded to by a PR or marketing agency rather than the company themselves. To get in touch, you could post a polite comment on their wall explaining your feelings – this approach works well with voting comps, as you will find that others will comment in agreement. If you’d rather not post in public, the company (if they’ve upgraded to Timeline) may have a ‘message’ button for you to contact them privately, or you could ask on the wall for an email address. Voting comps are very controversial – just this week the ASA have upheld a complaint about the Co-operative’s recent ‘Design a Sandwich’ competition, concluding that the promotion was administered unfairly.

The promoter hasn’t announced a winner and are ignoring my requests asking when the prize will be drawn, is there anything I can do?
Winners names and counties MUST be made available for all promotions, so you are right to chase the announcement. You can send the promoter a link to the CAP Code, which states “Promoters must either publish or make available on request the name and county of major prizewinners and, if applicable, their winning entries.”

How do I complain about online promotions?
The Institute of Promotional Marketing will deal with your complaints, and can be contacted at complaints@theipm.org.uk. They will sometimes pass the case on to the Advertising Standards Agency. If you feel a promotion is unfair or has been badly handled you can also complain to the ASA directly. Promotions in the UK are regulated by the CAP Code, which states that “Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.”

I missed notification of a win on Facebook from ages ago, and now the promoter won’t send me my prize.
Facebook promotions guidelines state that promoters cannot announce a winner’s name in a wall post or send a private message – they should use an App and contact you via email. If they don’t use an App, and you miss their private message or wall post, then it’s them at fault rather than you. Send them a polite message or email explaining this, and hopefully they will honour your prize, or at least send you a little something to apologise. The IPM best practice guidelines state that promoters should give at least 28 days for winners to claim prizes that aren't time-critical.

What if my prize is costing me money?
Prizes shouldn’t cost you money. If a prize is advertised as a £25 voucher, and when you receive it, it’s a £25 off voucher when you spend £50, you’re within your rights to complain. Before you do, check the terms and conditions in case you missed the small print. Unfortunately, lots of Facebook promotions don’t have T&Cs and many smaller companies use this to their advantage, changing the closing dates, prizes and rules as they go along.

Can the promoter change the rules in the middle of the promotion?
Strictly speaking, terms cannot be changed once the promotion is under way. This is because people will have entered on the basis of the published T&Cs and those form the basis of the contract between the entrant and the promoter. A promoter will often include a term that allows them the right to modify the terms, but this is still a breach of the CAP Code, unless circumstances mean the change was unavoidable.

Finally... social media like blogs, Twitter and Facebook give compers a lot of power. If we ONLY use that power to complain, there’s a danger we might actually put promoters off running competitions! Think twice before you post a complaint on a brand’s Facebook page; a private message or email might be a better first step. Promoters would much prefer to sort out any complaints behind the scenes so as to avoid bad publicity. Always take this approach first before complaining for everyone to see – there is no doubt that some promoters have been put off from offering prizes via social media due to these issues. And remember, if you enjoy a competition then let the promoter know... and if you love your prize, then post up a photo of it. Good/constructive feedback should encourage companies to run even more comps in future, and ideas and suggestions are always well received by the promoter.

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esthermate

Really informative article and some good tips for when things go a bit pearshaped!

clotho

I have a quick question - do promoters have to offer a free means of entry? I've noticed more and more "purchase necessary" is that legal?

SuperluckyDi

Yes it is legal to make a purchase necessary for a prize draw - the law changed a few years ago now for the UK. BUT you'll still see many promotions offering a Free entry for Northern Ireland residents - although the IPM are now recommending that NI should be treated like the rest of the UK by promoters! http://theipm.org.uk/news/latestipm_industryheadlines/individual_current...

magichappensxx

Great information. I will bookmark this. I recently had a competition try to get away with not giving me a prize claiming they were going to send in 3 days, then it did not arrive 2 weeks later, then it was sent out and did not arrive, then it was not sent. Eventually I told them they did not want bad publicity. And they sent me 2 of the prizes I won. My point worked.

SuperluckyDi

As per my advice above, you should email her asking to send the prize within the next 7 days otherwise you will contact the IPM. Email them at complaints@theipm.org.uk with a link to the competition details and forward on the emails from the blogger too.

maci234

mainly pick me up, now, woman magazine ,look magazine or maybe a problem on my computer

tracyjane41

I wonder about the comps that you enter that ask you to look at so many offers whist they'check' your answer. Do you still have a chance of winning if you decline all the offers?

SuperluckyDi

It's only just over a month since you won, and cash payments always take a while so I would hold tight for another couple of weeks.

The problem is - the promoter's in Europe, so you can't go through the IPM/ASA to complain as they only deal with UK promotions! So you can't do any more that what you are already I'm afraid - fingers crossed you get the prize.

lilkitty152007

I'm bookmarking this page. After My first week of entering competitions I won £250 pounds of vouchers for blinds, a pair of we will rock you tickets and 2xtickets to go ice skating at somerset house. The only one I have actually recieved was the tickets for ice skating as they were ones you printed from your computer.

I got a phone call and letter notification for the we will rock you tickets and was told my details would be passed onto the promoter and they should be in touch shortly (this was at the end of oct) so I'll leave it until the end of nov until I start chasing.

The blinds vouchers I received a phonecall about as they wanted to send someone out to measure up but we asked if they could be sent out in the post which they said was fine but I haven't recieved them yet (again this was the end of oct so I'll hold off on getting in touch with them to chase it)

I thought I was doing well for my first week of entering competitions but as of yet I haven't got anything to show for my comping :S

BUSTERBEN

Very helpful Thank you

honeydip

Thanks for the information provided. I don't think I will get my prize after two months of chasing it up but we shall see. I hate this aspect of competitions, false promises!

It worked, the very next day after I gave them a weeks warning, they apologized and the voucher was sent to my email.

skellbird

Great ideas, I'm chasing a prize that has not turned up at the moment hopefully I will get somewhere.

wellyvina

I received a notification of a win from Closer online for tickets to a Harry Potter film screening. The notification came on 30 July with a link to provide contact details by a deadline of 31 July (Competition stated tickets were for 5 August) but although I responded by the deadline I heard nothing and two subsequent emails to them on 3 and 9 August yielded no response. Not sure what to do! Any advice greatly appreciated! Given prize was event tickets with such tight response time I'm wondering whether they send notifications to more people than they have tickets to give away and whoever responds first gets them or something! Still a response of some sort would have been nice!

susan.trubey

On 13/1I received an e-mail notification from H. Bauer Clicks informing me of a £100 Jockey win which I would receive within 28 days. A month later I had not received it. I contacted them. They said they were chasing up the prize. I have contacted them twice since, but I have had no reply. It is now over two months since the initial e-mail. Any ideas???

TPF_Kirsty

Sorry you have had this trouble Susan. Try raising the issue publically on their Facebook wall or Twitter feed - sometimes public naming and shaming help promoters chase things up more quickly.

Keep on at them for another few weeks and then maybe tell them you are looking at taking things further with the ASA if still no joy good luck, let us know how you get on! x

TPF_Kirsty

Hi there. Unless it said in the terms that any winner would need to pay for postage, then I would send a reasonably polite email or message on social media along the lines of "thank you for your my prize, but just to let you know that the postage wasn't sufficient and I had to make up the shortfall". See what they come back with - any decent company should feel embarrassed and offer to reimburse you. Which company is it? Let me know how you get on! X