Yesterday (15th June 2023) we received a message from a Loquax user who felt that they’d been potentially “scammed” because of a prize draw that they’d visited via a posting on the site. The prize draw was on a site called Secret Greece and offered entrants the chance to win a holiday to Mykonos. This wasn’t a free prize draw as to enter you needed to purchase tickets. This had been flagged on the site as a “raffle”. Our user say they went on to purchase 4 tickets under the belief that the draw would take place on the 14th June. The terms state that “online entries must be completed by 14th June 2023. Draw will take place on 14th June 2023”. These terms seem ambiguous to us as either ticket sales should have closed on the 13th (so the user shouldn’t have been able to purchase on the 14th) or the draw should take place after the 14th (once ticket sales had closed). After doing a bit of investigation the user discovered that Secret Greece is also run by the same person/people who run Secret Yorkshire. Listings on Loquax are not vetted prior to posting. We rely on users to contribute and also to flag any issues. However we definitely don’t like hearing of our users having problems with promoters, especially when they’ve spent money. So we decided to take a closer look.
Who Are Secret Greece?
Secret Yorkshire is a blog site that writes about locations in the area and shares images on social media. There are additional brands within the same network. All have the same design and are hosted on Wix. Our initial thought with respect to Secret Greece, as run by Secret Yorkshire, had simply not concluded the draw. However we started to dig around and found a series of other prize draws run by the same group that also hadn’t been fulfilled. These include “a luxury 7 night break in Marbella with £1000 spending money” on Secret Marbella, a 5* 10 Night Holiday in Santorini on Secret Greece and a Lake District Break on Secret Cumbria. Some of these draws have closing dates in early June. All are pay to enter prize draws. As far as we are aware there’s no mention of any winners. On Secret Yorkshire we know of at least 11 draws as these have been posted on Loquax. Some of these are RT to enter draws from Twitter whilst others are pay to enter. A 4 Night Break in The Yorkshire Dales for example is pay to enter but doesn’t seem to have winner details. A £1500 John Lewis Shopping Spree seems to be a free prize draw but it’s unclear whether the closing date has been extended (our listing shows 30th April, the competition page shows 30th June). On the positive side a prize draw to win a break at Angrove Country Park does have a winner named. This is important to note as we can conclude that Secret Yorkshire do name winners. There just doesn’t seem to be enough winners named for the number of prize draws they run. So what’s going on?
A Little Facebook Conversation
We posted the following comment on the Secret Yorkshire Facebook page: “We’re assuming you also run the Secret Greece website. Do you have winner details of the recent Mykonos pay to enter prize draw as one of our user’s is concerned that you’re not running fair giveaways and we’d like to hear from you to clarify. Thanks”. The post we commented on got deleted so we posted again and received a reply. Rather than address the point they decided to question whether we had permission to advertise their competitions. We don’t need permission to share links so the point is irrelevant. We asked for information about winners and were told to look down the Secret Yorkshire page (for the record there seems to be three winners named). However there’s nothing for other prize draws so we asked again and received a “did you enter” as a reply. They then proceeded to suggest we were trying to “sabotage their page” and that GDPR meant they wouldn’t mention winners. We gave them every chance to point us to their winners page or to simply explain the situation but they just wouldn’t give a straight answer. Thankfully we took screenshots of most of the comments because Secret Yorkshire, rather than try to come across as an open and trustworthy site that wants entrants to pay to enter their prize draws, decided to delete the comments.
So What Does This Mean?
We gave Secret Yorkshire every opportunity to just explain where the winners of their prize draws were or if/when they intended to run the draw. As you can see from their replies and actions they’re not too keen on giving out such details. There’s no record of any live stream prize draw (something which is standard for pay to enter prize draw sites) although to be fair the sites do have legitimate terms and conditions. Except we think those terms have been copied from the likes of Competition Fox (not involved with SY for clarity). The sites also claim they’re part of the Secret Media Network although they’re not part of a bigger network of “Secret” sites that are owned by a company called Secret Media Network. Whilst all this doesn’t mean that Secret Yorkshire, Secret Greece, Secret Marbella isn’t playing fair with compers, their actions don’t exactly put them in a good light. In a forum discussion some users say they get persistent emails from them, whilst over on Lucky Learners we learnt that Di Coke had been warning compers about Secret Yorkshire for some time. All in all we think that compers should definitely not pay to enter any of their pay to enter draws and perhaps avoid them completely on Twitter and other socials. On a positive note the user who felt that they were “scammed” managed to get a refund of their money back from Paypal.
Pay To Enter Prize Draws
Whether compers like it or not pay to enter prize draws are now part of the comping landscape. Every week there’s a new site launching. In fact this week we’ve been made aware of a new platform that’s launching which makes running pay to enter draws even easier. Whether it takes off is another matter. The problem with pay to enter sites is that they can be addictive, expensive and are in many ways closer to gambling than comping. However there aren’t the same player protections and licensing in place compared to bingo, slots and casino. In short anyone can set up a prize draw site, take your money and not fulfill their obligations. There are some good sites out there and some are starting to be more gamble aware but there’s a long way to go. Sadly this means some sites will chance their arm in the sector and not play fairly. In terms of free to enter prize draws there’s plenty out there so there’s no need to spend money. If you’re unsure about pay to enter then avoid them! Of course people do like to pay and play. If that’s the case then our advice is to select established sites. There are plenty to choose from and sufficient reviews and comments across socials to help you make informed decisions. You should be able to easily find winners and live streams of the draws, see that prize draws haven’t been extended and get a feeling of honest and trustworthiness.