When we first started this blog way back in 2007 (yes 2007) one of the hot topics of the time was phone-in competitions. Ofcom were going to investigate the use of premium rate services, GMTV were shocked by irregularities and The BBC suspended all their offline and online prize draws. The latter was particular disappointing as it ended the numerous giveaways that ran across several different radio shows and platforms like BBC Film and Top of the Pops. The good old days of comping eh?
Postal Entries Omitted From ITV Prize Draws
Anyway fast forward to the present day and it looks like there’s “trouble at t’mill” again with ITV being investigated by Ofcom. According to reports in The Independent “some postal competition entries have been accidentally omitted from prize draws”. Free postal entries for ITV competitions, win a house competitions and raffles have always generated the question of “will my entry be counted”. For the most part we would hope that they would, but this latest revelation will knock confidence in those who have utilised the option.
However before we all get carried away the ITV issue needs some perspective. ITV claim that “six competitions were identified between 2014 and 2019 in which postal votes were excluded”. This apparently represents a very small proportion of the total entries. It’s claimed that this is one third of one percent of all competitions ran since 2014 and doesn’t equate to too many entries. It’d be useful to know how many people actually do opt to use the no purchase necessary entry route for pay to enter competitions.
The Independent reports that ITV has used “computer software to simulate all six compromised competitions” and no one with a postal entry was denied a prize. In other words the odds of winnng was so tiny that adding the postal entries didn’t make any difference. ITV have infact fessed up to their error to Ofcom so we don’t anticipate that they’ll be rapped too hard this time around. Back in 2007 they had to pay over £5.5million for their competition adminstrative errors.
So should you use a free (price of stamp and envelope) entry option for future competitions? For ITV competitions we would suggest “yes” because let’s face it they’re going to be scrutinised a lot more closely from now on. Whether it’s worth spending the time writing out a postal entry and applying a stamp is up to you. For other competitions like house competitions or car raffles we don’t know is the honest answer! We’d like to think your entry would be included, but remember there’s no watchdog for these kind of giveaways and there are no audits.
And comping issues aren’t confined to postal entries. According to a report by The BBC one holiday prize winner on Instagram started being asked for personal details and to pay for their children to go too. The latter isn’t unusual if you’ve won a holiday for two and wish to add extra to your trip. However it pays to check out the details and in this case the winner started to get suspicious. In the end she discovered the competition wasn’t being run by the company that was claimed to be behind the prize.
Staying safe online is paramount for everyone but especially compers. Frequently you’re asked to divulge lots of details so just be wary of what information you do part with. Be wary of winning email and social media notifications too. We’re hearing more and more reports of fake company profiles contacting entrants hoping to catch them off guard whilst enjoying a win. Do not give out any details such as passport numbers, date of birth etc until you’ve official notice of your prize. If you’re unsure of anything ask for details such as a name and phone number so you can check validity.
Talking of scams it’s not just compers that get targeted. We get targeted too. This week we received an email from a company saying that there was a significant amount of interest from radio stations due to The BBC scams article mentioned above. As our brand “can provide credible information” we could possibly help explain to folk what to look out for and how to avoid competition scams. “Great” we thought as it’d be nice to help out and provide important info so that people can enjoy comping safely.
Except then we saw the next bit: “If this is something of interest to you, I would be happy to discuss costs and logistics”. In other words we provide the credible brand and expertise plus we pay for it. In other words we’re not wanted for an interview but back handedly being invited to pay for an advert. We actually had something similar a few months back where we were being asked to pay something like £500 per radio station the “interview” appeared on. As you’d probably expect we made our excuses and left.