Over 4800 Competition Entries Disqualified!

Posted on: March 19th, 2011 by Jason 25 Comments

One of the things we’ve noticed since blogging about automated competition entry services is that comper’s seem unsure about what they are and perhaps a little oblivious to just how damaging they are to this hobby. Hopefully a few numbers and explanations will help spark a bit more annoyance and interest by compers and promoters about this issue.

1. What Is An Automated Competition Entry Service?

These are sites that accept payment in return for entering online competitions on behalf of their customers. Using computer scripts they will enter prize draws by populating forms (or sending emails) enmasse. The comper does nothing except pay their subscription.

2. Are They Legal?

Sadly, yes! But many promoters can put in their rules that “automated competition entries will be disqualified”. Whether the AES sites take any notice we don’t know.

3. Is Roboform/Autofill Going to Get Me Disqualified?

In our opinion “no”. Think of automated competition entry services like this – if you click a link, visit a website and send in your details personally (whether you use Roboform or not) then that’s fine. If a computer script visits the site on your behalf and does the competition then that’s an automated entry.

4. How Big An Issue Is It?

In our recent blog – Automated Competition Entry Services – New Help for PromotersChocolate Reviews told us that their competition was attracting automated competition entries. At the last count they’d received 4822 entries.

4822 Entries from an Automated Competition Entry Service

Let’s say an average iPod competition usually gets 2000 entries. Now, if that same competition gets 5000 automated entries that’s a 250% increase. Your chance of winning changes from 1/2000 to 1/7000… and the majority of those entrants never ever visited the website or entered the competition themselves!

That’s not fair to the promoter or the people who made the effort!

6. Is This New?

No. Loquax has been commenting on Automated Competition Entry Services since 2008 – we think we’re the only competition site speaking out on this issue, yet it’s an issue that effects every competition portal and comper!

In 2009 Marketing Week reported that the Institute of Sales Promotion (now The IPM) were warning promoters about automated entries, but there’s been little from that quarter since and that’s pretty disappointing.

7. So What Now?

Loquax will continue to write and comment about these services and let siteowners know that they have to be vigilant. We’d like to see marketing magazines such as Marketing Week and Brandrepublic, The IPM and even our competitors taking up the baton too.

Compers can get involved too. Genuine compers need to keep entering competitions – if you don’t then you give the prize draws over to the automated services. They also need to let promoters know about this blog and the issues raised.

If you’re not sure what to do, then find a “contact page” and just say “I like entering your competitions but are you aware of this …” and give them a link to our blogs.

8. Will This Stop Automated Entries?

Probably not! These companies will exist and will look for ways round the rules or avoid detection (some claim they can’t be spotted). But, many promoters currently aren’t aware of the problem or the extent of the problem so can’t do anything about it.

By giving them the information they can make informed choices about whether they wish to run fair competitions for people who actually visit their site or just give out prizes to people who don’t interact with their brand, visit them or care about their promotions.

Which do you think they’ll prefer?

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25 Comments! Join The Conversation!

  1. faunast says:

    In my opinion the whole point of a competition is for the sponser to get their name out there – publicity. Automatic entries negates the point. I have found a lot of interesting websites/info that I never would have found if not for a competition.
    The auto entry should be eliminated for fairness to the companies holding the comps and for those of us that spend the time to click a link to enter.

  2. kwm1 says:

    I believe that automated form filling should never be illegal as some people have great difficulty typing through a handicap or illness and as long as the competition site is visited by the entrant there should never be a problem. My friend used to take absolutely ages to type forms that needed all her personal details and could barely manage one or two a day!
    Can these Automated Entries fill in those parts that require “Human Intervention” like I’ve seen on some competition sites, typing letters etc? If not, then these blocks could be used, surely?

  3. fluffywhite says:

    This is really interesting to read, i don’t think its fair at all that these “automated companies” are allowed to enter on behalf of someone! I think ALL companies that run competitions should not accept “automated entries”. Its just not fair on all of us who take the time and effort to enter ourselves! Keep up the good work Loquax and i certainly will let promoters know and send them the link to this blog!

  4. Elektra says:

    Thanks for the info., I didn’t know anything about these automatic entries before, I’m horrified that they even exist! I just hope that more and more companies exclude them from their competitions, ‘cos it doesn’t seem fair on the rest of us ‘proper’ compers. Boo, hiss.

  5. nannyt says:

    I didnt even realise they existed, definitely doesn’t seem fair when you think of all the work we put in either finding them or entering them or in the case of Jason and Kirsty time spent running a fantastic site x

  6. gdhjh says:

    Why not bring back the old ‘tie-breaker’. That should stop them in their tracks.

    Even if it’s a ‘first out of the bag’ draw – a few words why you like this product should eliminate automatic entries somewhat. Make it difficult for them.

  7. mandy4baz says:

    Thanks for all the time spent and the great information Jason. I had heard of automated entries but never realised how popular they were. Hard to fathom how some people are so desperate to win that they would pay a company to enter on their behalf. Entering the competitions, finding the answers etc.. is all part of what keeps us going. Especially when you hear how hard people work at some of them and win a prize because of it. x

  8. Patterry says:

    I never realised that so many people entered this way. Must get an awful lot of junk mail, I’m sure they would be entering comps from sites like MyOffers and the like. And once you’ve paid for the service, how do you know that the entries are being made for you.

  9. habcat57 says:

    I have had more than one letter from one of these companies, offering to enter me in over 500 comps a month for a monthly fee! Surely the usual “third party entries will be disqualified” condition would cover this. To me it felt like “cheating” – half the fun is visiting the websites and dreaming about what you’d do with the prize.

    Keep up the good work Jason.

  10. jason says:

    @Patterry – I’m not sure if AES target the likes of MyOffers – they usually require more details/registration/survey questions to be answered and AES prefer simple prize draws.

    The use of a tiebreaker or even a question that requires an opinion is actually a good way for sites to spot these things – and our next blog will cover how promoters can spot problems.

    Jason

  11. santacat says:

    I knew these sites existed but not that they were so prolific… but then a lot of poeple nowdays seem to want something for no effort

    I would just feel too guilty to join one of these. I actually find sitting down and entering competition for an hour or two of an evening very relaxing

  12. lindas9876 says:

    I had never heard of this practice before – but to me this smacks of cheating. The whole point of the promoter running a competition is to attract people to their site and this surely negates that, making running a competition less attractive for them. Plus the fun of being a comper for me is looking at the prize and dreaming of the winning it…

    I guess the sites where true compers can win out are the ones that insist on you keying in ReCAPTCHA words as these surely cannot be automated.

  13. Abbi8 says:

    I have had these companies approach me too for a monthly fee – I cant understand why anyone would want to do this. It would take all the fun out of comping and would not become a hobby at all then. Maybe these people who join these ”alliances” only want to win to sell it on ebay. They are obviously not bothered what they win, as I would imagine that with this type of automated entry you do not have the choice of what you are entering for. I wonder how many have won a holiday/tickets etc and not been able to go as they did not conform to the T&C’s or thet couldnt make that date.

  14. MelJan says:

    Received an email from Something for the Wickend saying ” We have just found out that 80% of our mailing list did not receive our mail last week – we got into a bit of a mess trying to block spam entries, however all the valid entries did enter the draw. I have therefore also re-entered last weeks participants into this weeks draw”.
    I spend ages entering competitions and am so glad that Loquax is looking into automated entries. It’s great to see businesses such as Something For The Wickend doing something to try and combat automated entries.

  15. LaurensMum says:

    I recently received a telephone call from a company offering me the chance to pay to enter comps for me – I turned them down immediately. I really enjoy my hobby and like everyone else I really enjoy the looking up of the answers and visiting the sites. I sometimes find other comps I didn’t even know about!

  16. jeanetteb672 says:

    I very innocent to this .. it shocks me .. but now it all makes sense why its proving harder and harder to win anything these days! gone are the days say 10 years ago you wouldnt have to enter halve as much to win ten times as much … i like chatting on loquax and congratulating other loquax members. .. its a friendly site and for that very reason it gives me gpod sportmanship .. thanks for the eyeopener!

  17. NanaVal says:

    Thanks Jason – very interesting. They should be banned in my opinion. I think it’s a sneaky way of (not quite) cheating to enter a comp, and spoils it for us proper compers. I’m sure it can’t be the way companies who offer the prizes expect it to work.

  18. shellwin says:

    Thanks, I have had a few emails offerering this sort of service. One had the cheek to ask for over £300 as a membeship fee. I am not buying ! I also think they should be banned, my first thought was how do I know they are actually entering on my behalf ? Unless I won something I wouldn’t know. Anyway half the fun is entering the comps I WANT to enter myself.

  19. cfryer999 says:

    Wow, speechless…..that’s why I hardly win anything!! :-(

  20. Arabella99 says:

    Do you know if these companies have got round the captcha’s as well as I thought these were widely used now? I’ve seen one site that asks for information on another page layout which is frequently changed and states your entry must be validated by the correct information for the time you entered.

    Has anyone asked IPC/Natmags etc. if autofill/roboform are allowed or not?

  21. Arabella99 says:

    Just had a thought…… the more people who sign up to these services, the less chances they have of making a return on their investment. Unless the service themselves are posting out prizes saying you have won, they will extinguish themselves in the end by their own popularity. Perhaps we ought to be promoting their service as 50,000 members and counting, please join, it’s so much fun us all entering the same competition for one prize! Along with a list of any of the company names we have (I deleted the emails they sent me, sorry). It might put a sufficient number of people off competitions that it becomes fun again!

  22. norpet says:

    How would a company know if you were using Roboform or not? I DO use it – but I have arthritis in my hands and it helps not to have to type in my name and address every time. I really never considered this as cheating – I would be horrified to discover that it was!

  23. jason says:

    Roboform is NOT cheating – you still have to visit the website and you still have to press the enter button.

    Automated Entries are computer scripts so that people who enter DON’T VISIT the websites running competitions.

    It’s amazing that people are concerned about whether Roboform is ok (browsers have form fillers too – these are not an issue) – than the fact that 1000s of entries from people NEVER visiting the competition are going into the hat.

    There’s a mammoth difference in Autofill (Roboform etc) and Automated Entry Services and I really don’t want this issue to be clouded by people thinking they’re cheating just because they’re using a form filler like Roboform… as it stops people speaking out and getting promoters disqualifying the real problem.

  24. [...] compers is that still gives them a lot of competitions that aren’t being swamped by maybe up to 5000 extra entries from people who don’t even make the effort to enter their own details. However, we’d [...]

  25. Officer says:

    Theres no fun in an automated entry I enjoy visiting the site and doing the comp always nice to see what they have on offer….feel that the promoters of these comps need to stamp this practice out now.

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