Do Successful Compers Really Need to be “Devious”?

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 by Jason 10 Comments

Competitions are in the press again thanks to an interesting article in The Telegraph called Win Big From Competitions. The article tries to put across a message that you can do well from doing competitions but elements of the article may well be disheartening to many who enjoy the comping hobby and who play by the rules.

One line from the piece that stands out for us, other than our own soundbite, is “being a successful comper requires strategy, an understanding of statistics and a high level of deviousness”. Do compers really need to be devious to be successful? We’d hope not! Comping should be fun and fair and this implication of looking for loopholes or bending the rules most certainly won’t put us all in a good light.

However, incidents do occur that bring compers into conflict with promoters and also with each other.

Edwin Mutton, a well known name from the Institute of Sales Promotion, mentions in the article that he knew “a trading standards officer who bought £1,000 of Magnums and made £5,000”. However, back in 2009 when this competition had concluded we likened the Magnum competition to be more of a gambling promotion. The comment from Mr Mutton further emphasises that. Quite simply, people played the odds on this “competition”. The activity, whilst within the rules also upset a lot of participants.

The same “it’s just gambling in disguise” analogy can also be applied to the current Pepsi promotion. If you buy £100 of Pepsi and win one Flip Camera then that covers your costs. If you win two from that £100 outlay then you’ve doubled your money. Of course there’s the possibility you win nothing!

We’re not sure this activity can be classed as devious though. People taking this approach are just simply playing the odds at the line where a what is a competition and what is gambling becomes very blurred.

Another talking point comes from Steve Middleton of Compers News who is quoted as saying “There are some [compers] sitting on 100 mobile phones in order to enter these competitions”. and most certainly there are compers with a number of “comping mobiles”.

We’d be surprised if this wasn’t true!

Mind 100 mobiles sounds insane as there’s just not enough room down the side of the sofa for them all to congregate. However, if it’s allowed within the rules to enter via 100 mobiles then you can question whether it’s devious or again playing the odds? It also does make you wonder why there aren’t more restrictions in place though – a simple “text in your name, address” element would at least partly quash that issue.

The article holds some fascination as it’s a mini insight into what can go on in comping. We’re not sure devious is a fair word within the article content. Devious would be for example something like someone within a promotions agency tipping off someone about when is the best time to enter an instant win comp, or employee’s of a promoter entering (and winning) their competitions.

Playing the odds may be regarded as devious, but in another light it could just be ingenuity based on the rules of the promotion.

However, such activity may be frowned upon by other compers and it’s understandable why some may be put off comping after reading the article. The key is to remember that it only covers a small element of the hobby (instant win on pack competitions). Most competitions only allow one entry per person or address, and many compers play well within the rules.

If you’re in a position to “gamble” on volume purchases or maintain 100 mobile phones then that’s your decision. But, if you’ve read that article and think that’s what I have to do to be successful then be careful. Please don’t feel that you need to splash the weekly shopping budget on bulk buying of products. Remember to treat comping as a bit of fun and enjoy it within your own means and moral compass.

And let’s hope that one day promoters eventually get round to making sure their competitions terms are watertight, so that they are fair for all participants. This article may well make one or two look more closely at their rules.

Win Big From Competitions

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  • paul59

    earlier this year,i took part in the jlc darts challenge ,an online comp. run by chanel 4.i read the ts7CS,as i would normally do,to check the amount of entries permitted .the generic rules for all the competitions stated that the amount of entries allowed would be stated as per the the competition you were actually entering.the competition page itself simply said you could enter daily,with no mention of how many times each i decided to ‘hammer’ it for that week,entering around 50 wins a day.the result being i won that weeks £1000 prize.

    i wouldn’t consider that as being devious more taking advantage of the rules that were laid out.they were there for everyone to see . there was always the possibility that i was disqualifying myself from the competition for playing multiple entries but that was the chance i took..i agree entirely with Jo Haigh ,’that successful compers make ts&cs their friend’ if the rules state clearly that the amount of entries permitted then that’s how you play.

  • nicenise

    I agree that competitions should be regarded as fun, a hobby. I enter a couple of competitions a day and have not won anything for a few years…. but there are people who do this as “their job” and as per the competition books they make a living out of it. However, I had to check that the article was in The Telegraph and not a red top as they seemed to have just gone for sensationalism and quoted a minority rather than the majority who enter competitions for fun!!

    As to being “devious”, if a person is playing by the rules… they are not devious is my book!

  • Jo Haigh

    It became apparent to me quite early on in my comping career that successful compers make T&Cs their friend. By reading the small print you can maximize your chances whilst staying within the rules.

    I fully agree that this is not devious and that if the promoters want a completely level playing field it’s down to them be meticulous with their T&Cs to make it so.

    I feel it is unlikely that promoters will worry too much about this when money is coming their way e.g from text entry or pack codes (the more the merrier) and if anyone is astute enough to work out the odds and put their money on it I say good luck to ’em!

    If anyone feels disheartened can I just say that I make it a personal rule not to enter anything where I have to part with money, and my eyesight and attention span are so weak that small print remains pretty much a mystery to me…..yet I still win… (occasionally)

  • Polarbear

    Well i do alright without being devious, i follow the rules only enter as allowed and only have one mobile phone which is very rarely used for text comps anyway, i’m not a gambler so i don’t buy hundreds of magnums/pepsi or whatever either lol.

    I’m also a realist, i understand that i could buy 100’s of a prmotional item and still not win, so although it might have worked for the trading standards officer, how many did the same as him and yet it didnt work for?

    You also have to wonder if, as he was a trading standards officer, wether any “insider knowledge” was gained or wether he mis-used his position of authority in some way (contact with magnum in some guise or other, using his job position)- something we’ll never know as he’d be unlikely to admit to it IF he did and i’m not saying he actually did, i just find it ‘interesting’ that he is a trading standards officer and not a bricklayer, carpet fitter or office worker not associated with consumer products and manufacturers. Perhaps it was “just pot luck” but one never knows….

    Some people DO go to extraordinary lengths to win at any cost, including multiple email addresses and no doubt many mobile phones as per the article but it only hedges their bets, improves their odds perhaps (if not caught out) but it still guarantees nothing.

  • muffy0

    Its just a simple odds game and if you are playing within the terms and conditions (which should always be read through) then good luck! I don’t like the tone of the article, it makes out that making a living out of comping is easy. Anybody who knows me, would totally disagree because I put hours and hours in and luckily win atleast one big prize a month (usually more). I dont really do the gambling comps such as pepsi as I never seem to win on them!
    Its the people who have set up groups to cheat that I disagree with and enter competitions using scripts (I was show one made up by a “comper” for the big snap where one person had changed the spin so it span in 3 windows at once – then they wondered why they were disqualified… durrr)………

  • robinw

    it’s possible to “win big” playing within the rules. I’ve won a car in a tv comp and won some cash on Magnum. Bought a few extra boxes for the competition instead of having a different type of dessert but that’s what the organisers hope you will do. What I’d say is that generally comping offers a poor return on the time and money spent, unless you are very lucky. Much better to get a part time job if you have the choice.

  • sharonpayne213

    It makes us sound like we would do anything to try and win prizes. Don,t like the idea that maybe people see us as being devious. I have never sold any prizes that I have won. I only enter for things that I can use. If I am lucky enough to duplicate any prizes I give them away. It makes us sound like we all sit here comping all day long to make our living. The truth is we can only do this in our spare time, because most compers work all day to make a living. It is a hobby for me. If I win ( which is n`t very often ) it`s a bonus.

  • Piffyonarockbun

    I don’t like it being termed ‘devious’, wrong term completely! The one that gets my goat, as usual, is the ‘making a living’ thing. I would suggest that the people who do win a lot, and make money from their prizes, do so with the support of a hardworking breadwinning partner! Otherwise the lean periods would put them in poverty, surely!

  • missblastoff

    Perhaps ‘shrewd’ would be a better term than ‘devious’, which makes us sound terrible! I must admit I don’t feel comfortable at all with competitions like the Pepsi and Magnum ones, buying vast amounts of products that I wouldn’t usually buy just to sit and text in codes round the clock, although I know that with time you can definitely make a lot more money entering these than you spent in the first place!

  • shal777

    I’d love to make a living from comping. So far this year my prizes value almost £2500, and come in the form of tickets and toys etc. I have sold a couple of the things that I won as they are normally the runner up prizes when I went after the main prize but I have given the majority to a friend of mine who sells them for our local special baby care unit. I don’t think that I am doing anything wrong by selling them or giving them away.