Dodgy Comps

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.



  1. 8 May 2016

    I have just created my first competition as a blogger – it is not as easy as it seems

    I tend to F&RT a lot on twitter – I do not always see the winner announcement and it does make me wonder

  2. Gareth Evans
    30 May 2016

    some of the big players can be arses as well take a well known Newspaper I entered a competition Via Prizefinder for a “VIP” trip to festival No.6 including travel supplied by their “friends” at virgin trains. I was amazed to get the call saying I had one but less happy that the call came 24 hours before the start. and that Virgin had declined to award the travel because I don’t live on one of their “lines” This would have left me forking out nearly £600 for 2 late notice tickets, money I just didn’t have after much to-ing and fro-ing including me sending screenshots of virgin’s website showing they sold tickets from. my town in Cornwall they still flatly refused and having been emailed the competitions T&Cs I also noticed that this “VIP” trip did not include camping either or any other hospitality. and so this cost would have to be added

    as one of my friends ( a former special services soldier) put it “they have given you 24 hours to yomp 280 miles to a virgin train that will take you to contact in North wales who will guide you through the mountains to your target where you will be expected to survive for 72 hours unsupported, before meeting your contact to exfiltrate via the mountains to meet a train before yomping the 280 miles back to base”

    “Gareth he said you do that you can have my beret you will have earned it!.

    needless to say it never happened I Started to hitchhike but gave up at Exeter when they emailed to say that I would need to print off a voucher for when I got to Birmingham New st otherwise I would not get the tickets

    just a heads up this paper blames mostly of the world’s ills not on. billionaire oligarchs like its owner but on immigrants and the EU

    the PR agency involved was called “hope and Glory”

    never again it has really left a sour taste it hasn’t put me off Comping and I never was enamoured of Bransons cuddly shtick but fore armed is forewarned look at the T&C’s carefully folks

  3. Chris
    20 June 2016

    I’m getting more confident in asking questions of companies who run comps and prize draws. I think it does them good to know that people will ask things and not be fobbed off.
    I recently asked to see the winning entry for a hotel review. I was told it was confidential but I could read it in the next publication. I just wondered what sort of thing they were looking for so I could enter myself. It wasn’t a great answer but I had made a point.
    On Instagram it is regular that winners are not published. people ask , who won? all the time. I just unfollow.
    You see it all the time, so and so won, but like the Twitter example above, you never get to see their entry or who they are.
    Lets stick together on this and keep at ‘em.

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