Automated Competition Entry Services Threaten Prize Sponsors

Posted on: May 4th, 2011 by Jason 11 Comments

If you run an online competition then hopefully you’re keeping an eye out for automated competition entry services. We’ve already told you, thanks to Chocolate Reviews, about email accounts to look out for, but thanks now to Sixyplusurfers we have more details for you. Every month, Sixtyplusurfers run a lot of competitions. Most are entered via email and entries go to their hotmail account, but occasionally some entries are made direct to sponsors.

This week an automated service targeted one of Sixtyplusurfer’s sponsored competitions, resulting in their Features Editor Jenny Itzcovitz contacting us. Here’s what she had to say.

We have recently experienced problems with Competition syndicates entering Sixtyplusurfers Competitions. The problem is that they enter ‘en masse’ using a mailing list and do not even visit our website. We put a lot of hard work into our website and have regular readers, so we feel this is a form of cheating.

We receive hundreds of emails from identically formatted addresses and this is unfair on all genuine readers. When you try to reply to these emails – they are incorrect – and we are given the message ‘postmaster failure’.

We feel this is a form of spamming – as the numbers are very large and extremely difficult to handle. The companies who offer us the prizes are also unhappy when they receive these entries as they are not genuine. They want real readers to win their prizes.

We hope other websites will join us in putting a stop to such syndicates and ensure that winners are chosen from genuine compers, rather than a team of computers! We advise all compers to avoid using competition websites that tell you that they will ‘win competitions for you effortlessly’!

It’s believed, from site logs, that these entries came a company called Prize500. This site “will sign you up for hundreds of competitions each month. We do this by sending emails or postcards with the correct answer on your behalf”. In other words they take your money, enter you into competitions, and you probably get disqualified.

What Should Promoters Look Out For?

In this case you need to look out for hotmail accounts – especially entering en-masse at roughly the same time. Jenny told us that they all have a distinct pattern too.

All the automated entries came from a (First Name)(Surname)(Number)@hotmail.com account.

Our advice to Jenny is to complain to Hotmail. Their service is being used to spam websites from multiple accounts, usually managed by a third party. The Hotmail terms state that users “must keep accounts and passwords confidential and not authorize any third party to access or use the service on your behalf” – so if a third party is running entries that may well be a breach of these terms. It’s worth a try!

Hopefully if enough promoters step up to complain then this avenue can be closed.

Sadly it’s unlikely that the automated entry sites will just stop, but hopefully these blogs are starting to highlight the problems. If you’re a comper or promoter and are sat thinking that this isn’t a big deal then perhaps the last word from Jenny may resonate a little louder. She told us “we are in danger of losing the companies who supply us with prizes if we can’t stop automated entries”.

The good news is that there’s another site on the lookout for these kind of entries, and thanks to Jenny and Sixtyplusurfers we have more information on for promoters to act on.

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  • mattsmum2005

    I’m glad people are starting to see the automated entries for what they are, Thank Loquax for raising awareness.

  • clareandtribe

    yay well done sixty plus for taking a stand against automated entries if only more companies would take notice good work guys

  • barboofa

    Glad to read sixtyplussurfers have identified automated entries. I enter competitions on their site and and have bought products too, as a result. It’s a good site with plenty of info and interesting reading. Keep up the good work Loquax.

  • keriku

    I have won a few nice prizes from this site, they usually look for a wee bit creativity. I would hate to see them stop their comps. More power to Jenny!

  • prizes343

    Very alarming. I knew there were these companies out there but I didn’t realise it extended to the email competitions as well. I thought it was just the form filling ones. Unfortunately email entries don’t have any captcha or anything.

    Maybe the people could be contacted who have had their details submitted by these companies. If they knew they were just having their entries disqualified they might think twice about paying for the service.

  • prizes343

    ..and I’ve just read the article linked to from that website. It’s an old article so probably mentioned on Loquax before. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1021209/A-house-33-cars-20-trips-Tenerife—Amazing-1m-contest-bonanza-man-600-aliases.html

    Makes you sick doesn’t it? Surely ‘one entry per person’ means as a person you can enter once, not 600 times in various different names? No wonder winning is so difficult if there’s people like that as well as these automated services.

  • sugarthief

    Thanks for this! I am glad the automated entries are finally being noticed, as they are unfair!
    Time to change my email address I think! The info about the spam entries being first name, last name and number, is what my email address is! eeeeek! I actually changed it from a different one to one with my name thinking it might be a better advantage entering with it as it looks more like you are a real person if you use your name! Looks like I could look like part of the spammers *sob* By the way – I have won nothing whatsoever, after months of using my ‘new’ email address and I enter alot of email comps!!! I might be paranoid but I think I will use a new email account now without my name in address!! lol x

  • @prizes343 – “Maybe the people could be contacted who have had their details submitted by these companies”

    It wouldn’t make much difference. As I understand the services actually monitor the inboxes of their customers. So the emails people send are ignored, unless it’s a winning one!

  • prizes343

    “Maybe the people could be contacted who have had their details submitted by these companies”

    What I meant by this, was that for example the sixtyplussurfers, you have to provide your phone number in the email, so it would be possible to get hold of the actual person that way. Obviously it’s quite an impractical idea and probably not something competition promoters could do, not on any large scale anyway.

    Glad to see that things are happening to try and stop this though.

  • RikGarner

    I don’t understand why so few competition entry pages don’t use a CAPCHA to help sift out non-human entries

  • Arabella99

    It just shows that putting a personal line or two on emails entries is a good idea to identify yourself as a real person. Well done Sixty Plus, I just won a prize with them and they are a delight to deal with and offer a fabulous service to the “more than young” crowd!

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