Automatic Competition Entry – Justifiable?

Posted on: September 15th, 2011 by Jason 11 Comments

One thing that’s been a mild irritation to us since we started highlighting automated entry services here on Loquax is the lack of comment from other publications. Given that automated services impact upon sites like ourselves from a business level plus it impacts on the hobby of the very people who enjoy competitions you’d have thought they’d be more buzz.

Well, you’d have thought!

We think they’re a problem and some promoters think that they are a problem. Even The IPM have suggested they’re a problem as back in 2009 (Marketing Week). We have contacted The IPM about automated entry services, but as yet we’re still waiting for an official comment from them for their 2011 view.

The problem The IPM have is that one of their members, Oxfordshire Press who support The IPM with their Winner’s Gallery site, has links with the automated competition entry service – Prize Draw Centre (revealing more about automated entry services). We wonder if there’s a conflict of interest here perhaps? Still, we await The IPM’s thoughts with great interest.

Even more so now that Oxfordshire Press (who for the record run Simply Prizes, Competition Club for Twitter and Facebook, Just Comps, and National Compers Alliance) have now published an article on their MyComps site. They’re written a blog titled “Automatic Competition Entry Review” in which they review Prize Draw Centre.

Forgot To Declare An Interest?

First off, they don’t tell the reader that they have a link to the Prize Draw Centre site. We’d have thought that they would have had to declare an interest? The directors of Oxfordshire Press are we believe the directors of the company who own Prize Draw Centre (revealing more about automated entry services). Given the link though it’s no surprise that they then don’t share the same view of automated entry services that we do.

Anyway in their review they set about explaining Prize Draw Centre – mind they don’t mention the cost. But they do try and justify it’s role in comping! Their analogy of some people like to make lasagne (do comps themselves) whilst others like to buy them (pay to enter) is – in a loose sense – fair comment. Whether that makes them right or not is debatable. We know that promoters don’t like them – they’ve told us and many have implemented changes to try and nullify their effect.

Promoters Can Choose…

Interestingly MyComps suggests that promoters “can choose to include or exclude Automatic Entry”. That’s great news for the promoters then! Especially those like BBC Good Food, Woman and Home and Marie Claire who do have in their rules they don’t accept automated entries but who do appear in the latest PDC prizes entered list. Maybe PDC should may more attention to terms and conditions as their subscribers are possibly paying just to be disqualified.

The conclusion from MyComps in their latest “review”, however is a bit belittling to your day to day compers – they say “if there’s a prize at the end of it all, are you really bothered how you won it?”.

Now the ethics of comping is something we could really delve into. Is it right to give answers out (we don’t on the main site btw)? Is it right to post competitions from magazines for others who don’t buy to enter? Is it right to even list competitions? Is having a Facebook account for comping and a special email account for comping akin to paying a company to enter comps for you?

Whatever the answers for those, the well I can win a prize so that’s all right argument to justify an automated competition entry service that they have a vested interest in is at best lame.

Automatic Competition Entry – Justifiable?

Of course the above is our view – and if nothing else it’s nice to see another competition publication present their view. We await something official from Accolade Publishing who print Compers News. At least by putting their cards on the table, compers can now see (at least to a point given some omissions they make) who says what about these things and who to perhaps even spend their time and money with!

We know we’ll never get automated entry services closed, but we can make sure compers and promoters are aware of them and who’s behind them. Compers can then choose to vote with feet and money. Promoters can also consider whether they’re happy seeing their promotions featured on a particular site.

The fact that many promoters are including “entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void” is perhaps a good indicator to us that automated entry service compers are not very welcome.

As ever we welcome your views… do you think automated entry services are fair? Do they have a role in comping? And are you of the mind “if there’s a prize at the end of it all, are you really bothered how you won it”?

Tags:
  • pamcram

    Hi Jason, I notice you’ve written, “We await something official from Accolade Publishing who print Compers News.”

    I think it was in the May issue this year that there was a two page spread on this very subject.

    HTH

    Pam

  • Hi Pam… I don’t read CN although I remember Jane saying something on Twitter. So unfortunately it’s hard to comment on it. If someone has a copy of the article then I’m happy to acknowledge it.

    I’d also like to see them do something online too.

  • missblastoff

    Thanks for the post Jason, this remains a very serious issue for all at Accolade. We are currently in the process of updating Prize Finder to include a blog, and automated entry services are top of my list to blog about! Unfortunately the process is more complex than we initially thought, so there have been delays to the launch.

    The article in Compers News regarding automated entry services was aimed at making compers aware of the services, but of course it’s the promoters that we need to target. Perhaps in the meantime I will blog about it at Super Lucky, and direct my promoter and PR contacts to the blog to make them aware of the situation.

    Thanks for your dedication to the cause. The phrase ‘if there’s a prize at the end of it all, are you really bothered how you won it?’ makes me very sad, that’s not at all what comping is about. Surely the fun of entering counts too?

    Di

  • Polarbear

    Automated entries should be outlawed/made illegal full stop!

    The people who use such services never visit the website, they never see what competition they are entering or the company promoting the competition, they couldnt care less what they win or where they win it from, they are simply freeloaders, leeches on the backs of the companies running the competitions and the sponsors of the prizes, just like the companies who’s “services” they subscribe too.

    They put no effort into winning a prize other than chuck money at someone else to do it for them- ie the automated entry service companies.

    However having said that, the sponsors and companies running the competitions can be apportioned a fair share of the blame for allowing it to happen. They too are lazy, too lazy to put into place methods of blocking automated entries, this could be as simple as preventing more than one entry from each IP address or limiting it to 2 or 3 three entries to allow different members of a family to enter.

    This would surly stop automated entries as they would all be entered from the same bulk computer system and so would have the same IP address for each and every entry and stop automated entries dead? or at least limit its capabilities as it would need several hundred or thousands of IP addresses at its disposal to make entries for each customer?

    Perhaps thats being too simplistic, and may or not work? i’m not that ‘into’ how automated entry systems work but that would seem logical to me.

    However even if that would not work, promoters/sponsors should be doing thier bit to rid the internet of these leaches who are simply feeding off the goodwill of the sponsors and prize providing companies themselves by taking money to enter for people who are neither interested in the companies or sponsors so long as they or rather one of thier subscribers “win” the goods on offer.

    Since the reasoning behind most competitions is to get clicks to the website to view the sponsors offerings and website in the hope of a sale of other goods, allowing automated entries is self defeating, its denying traffic to the website and in effect reducing potential sales as those using automated entries NEVER visit the site and often do not even know which sites they have entered a competition on let alone the nature of the site and the goods available for sale. The net result is less potential sales. This may even be made worse by the fact that an actual visitor to a website while not buying for themselves may well see something of interest that they pass on to a third party- family, friends, aquaintences etc who themselves ask which website an item was seen on and may well visit a particular website themselves as a result of this ‘word by mouth’ to purchase something they have been informed of by the passing visitor entering the competition who saw it and then mentioned it to the third party- something that would NEVER happen in the automated entry scenario as the automated services entrant never actually sees the website or the goods sold on it.

    You may as well just open your shop door and give goods away to the first stranger walking by when you permit automated entries, and we don’t see shops doing that on the high street, so why allow it online via automated entry companies?

    Stop them, ban them, outlaw them and if they still enter your competitions despite being banned or they ignore the rules prohibiting entries from them then sue them for fraud and theft and refuse the prizes. Maybe then people will stop using such “morally reprehensible services” which give nothing back to the companies or sponsors and are simply money making rackets for the directors and owners of these so called “services”.

  • suroben

    Not really got much to say following the lengthy response from Polarbear. Suffice to say I agree that paid for entry services are something I totally disagree with. How can anyone be satisfied with being entered for every comp on a list regardless of their interests? I much prefer to do my own research to find answers and ask for a hint if I’m stuck. I certainly don’t want to see people paying to get answers and entries and think the companies who run comps should make every effort to stop these entries.

  • aliali

    ”if there’s a prize at the end of it all, are you really bothered how you won it?”.

    YES, I’m bothered how I won it. If I paid a company to enter my comps I’d feel that the prize wasn’t rightly mine.How can a an automatic entry company accept the t&cs on your behalf? After all they don’t know if you’re available to take a holiday by a certain date, or fit the comp criteria.

    I enjoy visiting sites that have comps,and usually buy something from them if I need or want it which certainly wouldn’t happen if someone entered my comps for me.

    I’m selective, and only enter comps I want to win, and I enjoy researching answers. Every day I learn something new, or discover a new hobby I’d like to try. This wouldn’t happen if someone entered my competitions for me.

    Automatic bulk entries should be banned, and it’s high time the companies running the comps got their act together and realised bulk entries don’t mean sales for them

  • portal

    If you pay a company to do automatic entries for you in entering competitions that is cheating,to enter a competition you should not have to pay to enter,if you want to enter a competition and it needs prove of purchase you buy the item etc.When l enter a competition,l always visit the site,and have a look around.Sometimes l find something that l would like to buy,or has a interesting article,it provides traffic to your site,which is good for your business,automatic entries does not do that.So you lose out .I only enter comps that l want to win and l am very selective ,Automatic bulk entries should be banned at all costs,you lose out,because people do not come and look at your site,no visitors no sales for you.So please lets get our acts together,put these in your t&c .You control the competions that you run,do you like to be cheated and robbed because that is what automatic entries are doing to you,robbing you of making a living.

  • Janetf

    I don’t agree with automated entries. As aliali said how can an automated entry accept the t&c on your behalf. Does it know who you work for & whether you are eligible to enter a competition. Can it know if you can take a holiday at a certain time of year.

    I know selling prizes is an emotive subject but surely automatic entries is going to create prizes which will simply be sold on as they are of no use.

    I hope your campaign has a positive effect on comping & more promoters become aware of this method of entry & either block or disqualify entries made this way.

    If all promoters started blocking auto entry then people would soon get fed up of spending money & getting nothing back.

  • sharonpayne213

    I only enter comps for things that I will use ,or could give as presents,etc. I feel this is a fair way of entering, and feel it gives others who could use the prizes a better chance. I would hate not knowing what comps I have been entered into. How frustrating would it be to win a holiday, that you have no chance of going on. I feel it takes all the fun away. I certainly would not be interested in entering in this kind of way.

  • Ennill1

    Well,if these companies have in their T&Cs that no automated/third party entries are allowed, they should stick to them. If they don’t then they should be reported to The Institute of Sales Promotion – it’s very good, and Magda Czekalska Complaints Coordinator is excellent – her e-mail address is complaints@isp.org.uk and I just hope she is still there. Website is http://www.isp.org.uk/.

    Now, if we enter a comp that is named on the list of the automated entries – we have a good cause to complain, and if these companies are just ignoring the rule (and think they are covered by their T&Cs saying it is not allowed and no actively stopping it) they can be in for a rather large fine…

    So, a bit time consuming, but in the interest of all genuine compers, we do need an updating thread that can alert us to which comps are being targeted by the companies doing automatic entries – so we can immediately contact ISP – the company either withdraws the competition or faces huge fine? What do you think?

top