I’ve consider myself to be a comper for about four years now. Some compers have been doing it for much longer, but four years is long enough for anyone to learn a good deal about competitions.

As your comping experience grows, you build up a certain trust level with companies that run competitions. You develop opinions on who operates reliably and fairly. I, for example, have been lucky enough to win three competitions in as many years with Babyworld. They were warm and kind in their communications and the prizes were great. The Entertainer – who give away great kid’s toys – are another example of a company that really impressed me with their promptness in dispatching a prize.

As a consequence of getting a feel for how a competition should be run, you also get a feel for when something isn’t quite right. It’s no secret that some companies have run competitions that have proved to be scams. Who better to instinctively know when a competition does feel genuine than us?

We’re not idiots. We know that the purpose of a competition is to promote a product. We’re giving up our email addresses, and infiltrating our Facebook friend walls and Twitter feeds in exchange for a change to win a prize. This is all because we are prized assets – we’re customers. In this social media-centric world, a successful company considers success to be measured in page likes and followers.

I’m cool with that. I’ll retweet happily if there’s a chance of a prize. What isn’t on, though, is a company who runs a competition with no intention whatsoever of giving away a single thing.

There’s not one single thing that usually identifies a dodgy competition. It’s usually a lot of small things that build up enough evidence to transform that seed of doubt into a certainty.

For example, have you noticed how many small companies give away top of the range iPads on a regular basis? Ask yourself if this is financially viable. The local tyre repair service may well love the idea of having an active Facebook page, but are they really going to be prepared to pay a fortune for the pleasure? I have no idea how a small company can afford regular cash prizes either. I heard a story about a Glasgow tradesman who, after a lot of pressure, honoured the competition prize by giving a second hand, locked iPad. Ouch.

It’s a simple thing but if a company has a photo of the actual prize then it looks a lot more credible. Any competition that has stock footage of an iPhone gets me wondering why they haven’t just snapped a pic of the phone they are offering.

zx2I recently spotted a company that announced a winner’s name on Twitter, but not his twitter @username. They also asked him to contact them. How does that work? I mean, how did the company know his name if they hadn’t spoken to him? How is the winner meant to know he won if the winning tweet didn’t have his @handle?

Similarly, winners who don’t appear to have liked / shared / retweeted is a dead giveaway. Like I said, we’re not daft.

So, what do we do when we spot these scammers? Ask them. Send them a message or tweet asking them to address your concerns. If your message is deleted or you are blocked, then you might well be onto something. Genuine companies have nothing to hide.

A potential response is to report the offending company to the Advertising Standards Authority. A competition is an online promotion intended to advertise and must follow their strict rules. It’s certainly a more legitimate response than asking Anonymous to hack their accounts or spamming their Facebook wall. The downside of this is that the ASA might not be that interested. They may have bigger fish to fry.

If that seems a bit too daunting or time consuming, your best response is to simply unfollow or unlike and spread the word. Hit those companies where it hurts by diminishing their online presence. Post details on the Compers News forums. Let people know. o-anonymous-facebook

Then ask Anonymous to hack their pages*.

*Don’t ask Anonymous to hack their pages. That’s naughty.

 

 

This article originally appeared in Compers News.

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