Did Your Competition Get Automated Entries In December?

Posted on: January 9th, 2012 by Jason 16 Comments

We’ve not done a “did you get…” type blog post for a few months, so we thought as it’s a New Year we’d revisit and remind compers and promoters about the issue of automated entry services. Automated entry services are subscription sites where people pay to be entered into prize draws.

A computer script then runs and dumps between 4000 and 20000 entries into the “hat” of unsuspecting promoters. Whilst these services are not illegal, there’s no benefit to the promoter in accepting these entries. They don’t get visits from these entrants and the emails are usually specific to the entry service so useless for later contact.

Our blogs from 2011 cover a multitude of topics in this area including advice for promoters. We reveal emails to look out for in your competition entries and how to avoid getting them in the first place.

A simple “automated entries will be disqualified” line in the rules should make a difference, but sadly there’s still many who fail to do this. Here’s a round up of the sites who were targeted during December 2011.

Those sites that received entries from these email accounts include…

Choice Discount, Early Learning Centre, BHS, AEG, Alt Fashion, Viagogo, If You Ski, Lloyds Pharmacy, Very, UK Turkeys, MTV, lastminute.com, Hilton Racing, Amazon, Debenhams, Company, Fragrance Direct, Instyle, Look Fantastic, Gardeners’ World, Nirvana Spa, Artbox, Opodo, Go Ape, Fred Perry, Visit Cardiff, Sendit.com, Hormann, Veg Society, Slazenger, The Entertainer, The Mirror, Sony Music, Cloggs, Advanced MP3, All About Soap, iVillage, LG Arena, MSN, MyBag, Ryvita, Go Ape, Overclockers, Female First, CBS Drama, Johansens, Zavvi, Mothercare, Money Supermarket

What’s interesting about this list is that not only does it contain some big name brands (who should know better) but some names keep reappearing month in, month out – Debenhams, Zavvi, Female First for example. Now either the auto-entry service is wasting their time and are being disqualifed at source, or these promoters aren’t taking care with their competitions.

Another company dumped autoentries on these guys in the past month:

Sunglass Hut, The Telegraph, Sky Sports (?), Tesco Magazine, Expert Beauty, Republic, I-On Magazine, Hormann, Clash Music (?), EMI, The Book People (?), Female First, All About You, Sofa.com, 220 Triathlon, Diamond Store, Debenhams, Royal Academy (?), Instyle, Swarovski, Gardeners’ World, Vogue, Original Factory Shop, Cartmel Village Shop, All About Soap

By the way, this auto-entry service also put entries in for a car competition. The promoter disqualified all the entries and provided us with this information!

There are more – and a couple of those mentioned above get more than one dose of autoentries. Female First for example get a fair few! In some cases some sites appear on both lists – so surely they must notice that they’re getting thousands upon thousands of entries?

This company stopped including the company names for the competitions that they target, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a good guess. The difference here is that some of these comps have been targeted this month!

Ernest Jones, The Source Magazine, All About You, Competition Box, Global Cool, The Telegraph, TwistnGo, Female First, Buyagift, Tria Beauty, V&A Museum, Countrylife, Little Brown Book, Ski Club, Woman and Home, John Lewis, Lonely Planet, Tesco Magazine, Scalextric, Tesco Books, Sheerluxe, Sofa.com (?), Metro Snow, Instyle.

Again some familiar names appearing in this list – and remember these are just some of the sites!

Instyle by the way do have in their terms that automated entries do get disqualified. Yet they appear on all three lists above! Assuming that they do disqualify entries it would seem that these services aren’t reading the rules.

If your brand or site appears in this list then please go and check your competition databases and see what’s happening…. before you pick any further winners!

Annoyed by automated entries?

Some brands have asked us what can they do about complaining about these services. Firstly contact the hosts of these companies and make a complaint. Dumping 20,000 emails on you is spamming! If enough of you speak out the hosting company will need to act.

Secondly, contact The IPM – again if enough promoters start voicing their concerns then they may well get the message louder and clearer than if it came from us!

Thirdly, contact trade magazines such as Marketing Week, NMA and The Drum. Make your voices heard!

You can also contact the companies running these services! They’re spamming you so tell them what you think of them and to leave your company alone.

Finally, take simple measures to either prevent getting automated entries in the future or watch your promotions much more closely.

Hopefully next month there won’t be the same names appearing on our round-up!

  • Pete0800

    I’ve been running a competition on TheFloatingRumShack.com for just over a year now. We run the site in our spare time and don’t earn any cash from it. The sponsor puts the prize up and we both benefit: me from extra traffic and them from extra exposure. Loquax have helped us nicely by promoting the competitions for just about a year now.

    December was out best month ever and not because of Automated Entries, 1,600+ entries into the draw was a great result.

    January however was a whole different affair. The comp didn’t go live until the 2nd – the first few days of the month always see a rush to enter – but within 8 days we had just shy of 21,000 entries (but only 1,400 or so page reads). Obviously we’ve become a victim too.

    I’m not particularly technical – but I’ve had to find a solution sharpish to secure the competition and (touch wood) I think I’m far better protected. Now don’t get me wrong, my original solution was poor – but then I never thought anyone would bother little o’l me.

    If they get past this current level of security – there’s not much more I can do, apart from discontinue the competition. It’s not fair on the sponsor to expect support when they don’t get anything meaningful back.

    Interestingly – within about half a day of bolstering my security I get an email from an SEO company asking if I’ll help promote one their customers: a free UK competition/giveaway website no less. Coincidence perhaps?

    Anyway – it’s obviously naïve to assume that someone won’t hesitate to try and put one over on me if they think they can get away with it and my previous solution was wide open so I except some responsibility – it’s just a shame there are some rotten b*astards out there who are taking the mickey and earning money from it.

    Fortunately, my new solution has some added benefits that are actually going to do me some good, so actually I’ve been done a favour – I’ve been driven out of lazy mode – still not happy with the Automated Entry Websites though.

    Pete

  • claire17

    what about google chrome…does this count as an automated entry when it fills in your details for you….

  • No it does not..

  • crazyminx

    Hi, I am just wondering if, in your opinion Jason, it’s worth entering competitions on these sites at the minute whilst they are getting these entries?

    I enter InStyle, Female First, the Telegraph, etc, but I don’t want to waste my time if there’s 20,000 automated entries?

    thanks 🙂

  • lilrahi

    I won from a female first comp that ended in December. It was my first win so I was very happy

  • @crazyminx – people still win at these sites so it may well be that the promoters are being pro-active (we’d just like them to make things clear) and doing mass disqualifications.

    We don’t want to put people off trying to win, but automated entries are something for compers to be aware of, and promoters to start being more pro-active about….

    So, our advice is if you see a competition that’s email entry or form entry – check the terms and see if they
    state “automated entries are disqualified” (or similar)… if so – great, if not send a little email to the site and mention your concerns.

  • annie0103

    I posted a message to Debenhams wall on Facebook asking them to look into how their competitions attract block automated entries, and how unfair they are to people like me (customer, buyer etc) They’ve replied and said they will look into it on Monday!

  • Good stuff annie.. I’ve replied to your comment as I can pass on some additional info to them. Have done the same with Very.co.uk as well today.

  • crazyminx

    Thanks Jason, will keep on trying then 😀

  • annie0103

    I’m a Very customer too, I’ll send them a message whilst I’m in the mood!

  • Pumpkin2

    I have come across here from the opposition (MSE), merely because I was impressed with your comments about automated entries. You are doing a grand job in trying to combat this. Keep it up.

  • JudeVFR400

    Amazing, I’ve had an email from Oxford Press ‘inviting’ me to join them. “The Prize Draw Centre enters you into a minimum of 250 bona fide competitions each and every month” How do they get away with this?

    Last month’s epic prize list included: (they say)

    A Sony Cyber-shot camera
    A USA adventure tour
    £500 to spend at Di-Moda Clothing
    A trip to St Vincent in the Caribbeans
    A Jimmy Choo handbag worth £750
    A break in Stockholm for four people
    A trip to Australia
    A Warren Evans bed and mattress worth £1000
    An Xbox 360 and Kinect sensor
    A 22 inch Sony TV worth £299
    A trip to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
    An iPad2
    A trip to Canada
    A Philips Fidelio Primo DS9010 dock worth £399
    £1,500 worth of kitchen appliances

    Unreal.

  • They get away with it because it’s not illegal and because a lot of promoters aren’t aware of the problem (I’d also say they their numbers are not on the scale of a couple of other services).

    By the way prize list is simply the prize draws they’ve entered – not wins they’ve had.

    Some people will sign up though whilst others will still support this company in it’s other forms. Compers need to start looking at themselves, where they spend their money etc.

    Compers also need to start telling promoters to watch out for AND disqualify automated service entries – we’ve started the ball rolling and it’s rolling – but there’s still plenty of work to do.

  • pamcram

    Jason, aren’t OP affilliated to the IPM or have some sort of tie in? If so this makes a mockery of the IPM wanting to stamp out automated entry services.

  • Yes they are Pam – and The IPM do have a copy of the email.

    I’ve had an email this evening from someone asking who they can complain to about it. Sadly there’s nothing illegal about the service but my advice is pass it on to The IPM and maybe even ask ASA if there’s any grounds to complain (I’m not sure).

    The other thing to do is complain to OP – let them know how compers feel about this service. They’re on Facebook, they’re on Twitter and many compers buy their magazines. Vote with your pockets and your feet.

  • JudeVFR400

    I’ve asked them by email “When your team of expert researchers verify the validity of these competitions, do they also check the rules to see if they allow third party entries? Do you send in entries anyway or do you avoid entering these ones.” Wonder if they’ll answer.

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