Revealing More About Automated Competition Entry Services

July 31st, 2011

After a short break, we’re back on the trail of those automated competition entry services and hoping to continue encouraging promoters to look out for them and for compers to make a stand against them.

First a quick reminder – an automated competition entry service is paid by users to then go and enter competitions for them. Remember, we’re not talking about autofill form fillers like Roboform! These services are usually computer scripts which do bulk entries and/or third party entries – i.e. they enter on behalf of their subscribers.

It means that entrants don’t visit the site, interact with sponsors and often have no idea who the promoter is! They even use specific email accounts designed just for seeing if they win. Furthermore they swamp competitions giving people who make the effort to visit a site less chance of winning. In our view they’re not good for comping.

Of course they’re also not good for Loquax.

If people get disillusioned with comping they give up and then they don’t visit services like Loquax! The good news is that through our efforts a number of sites have now changed their terms and/or been able to disqualify these entries! But, what’s been a surprise to us since highlighting this issue is just how little other comping sites and forums seem concerned by the effect of automated competition services.

In fact, one competition publisher even goes as far as to promote an automated competition entry service! And that company is Oxfordshire Press! Remember them? Yes, they’re the very same company who, through their MyComps site, decided to review Loquax recently.

That issue has been resolved (at least for now) but given our interest in automated competition services and with Oxfordshire Press forcing themselves on our radar, we decided to look a little more closely at Prize Draw Centre.

And that has proven to be quite interesting!

At first we thought there was just an affiliate relationship going on, but in fact the link between Oxfordshire Press and Prize Draw Centre goes a little bit deeper. In 2010, The Prize Draw Shop Ltd – who own the site – had a change of Director. David and Elizabeth Gibson took over as Director and Secretary respectively. That would be the same people who also own Oxfordshire Press, the competition publishers behind MyComps, Simply Prizes, Just Comps and Competition Club on Facebook & Twitter.

Let’s be 100% clear – the two companies are separate entities – they’re just owned by the same people and they use the websites of one company to promote the other. That’s their perogative and it’s their business choice. If people wish to subscribe to any of these services then it’s their choice too.

But in comping terms we’re incredibly surprised!!!

On one hand through Oxfordshire Press, they are offering – mainly paid for – services to compers telling about competitions that they can enter online, and on the other hand, with Prize Draw Centre, they’re running a service for subscribers to enter competitions for them on their behalf. And yet, automated competition services are potentially causing big issues for compers and promoters.

We’re just stunned that any company involved in providing prize information to compers would even entertain services that are, in our opinion, detrimental to competitions and that obviously upset promoters! It’s no wonder Facebook competitions have become more popular as they are ideal for limiting automated entries.

We’ve also taken a look at the list of competitions Prize Draw Centre have recently entered on behalf of their users and it’s quite interesting. One thing we can’t report on is the competitions listed on MyComps versus those listed on Prize Draw Centre. According to MyComps January 2011 promo of PDC user’s would get 250 extra competitions – so one could assume that these competitions don’t appear amongst the 170 on offer for a MyComps subscriber?

Anyway, amongst the latest promoters targeted by Prize Draw Centre are Woman and Home, Cosmopolitan, Absolute Radio, Daisy Green Magazine, BBC Good Food, The Guardian, Nisa Locally, iVillage, Web User, Female First, Hot Dinners, The Telegraph, 4Music, Vogue, Homes and Antiques, Parents Lounge, Splenda, Westfield, Nivea, WD40, The Cheese Shed, Zirtek and Clipper Teas.

It’s frustrating to see some of the same names cropping up over and over again, but are automated competition entries getting counted – and are subscribers wasting their money?

For example Woman and Home state in their terms “all entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition. Entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void.”

BBC Good Food say “Only one entry will be permitted per person, regardless of method of entry. Bulk entries made by third parties will not be permitted.”

The Guardian’s terms include “Entries on behalf of another person will not be accepted and joint submissions are not allowed.”

Similarly on Absolute Radio the terms state “Only one entry per person and per household is allowed. Entries must not be sent through agents or third parties.”

And on Nisa Locally we have “no applications from agents, third parties, organised groups or applications automatically generated by computer will be accepted.”

Of course some of the sites listed don’t have terms that should put off third party entries, but either the above brands are just putting things in their rules and not applying them (so automated entries aren’t being spotted) OR entries made by a third party are just being disqualified meaning people are wasting money.

Let’s hope for the compers who make the effort to visit sites and enter competitions that it’s the latter.

Whilst we don’t think automated comping services will ever vanish, we do hope more and more promoters wake up to the damage that we think that they are doing to competitions. We want promoters rewarding people who visit their sites – and we’re pretty sure most compers who spend hour after hour clicking to sites will be of the same view.

It’d be great if other competition sites got involved in making promoters aware of automated entries, bulk entries and third party entries – but then not every competition service is like Loquax.

So what do you think?

Are you a Prize Draw Centre subscriber? Or an Oxfordshire Press subscriber? What do you think of automated entry competition services and are you happy about this? Do you think competition publishers should be working to help promoters run fair competitions?

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