Prize Pigs and Competition Junkies

Two unflattering terms for people who love competitions. Whatever you want to call them, competition fanatics are around to stay and must be considered when you are designing your next competition.

Who are Prize Pigs?

They are someone who enters a vast amount of competitions, on a daily basis and someone who knows the tricks to give them a better chance of winning. At the one end you have people who are just passionate about entering competitions and abide by the rules. At the other extreme you have those who will cheat to win. You want to encourage the first group, but discourage the second from entering your competition.

Competition fanatics are obsessed with competitions for a reason.. they make money out of doing something they enjoy. And some are very good at it. If you have ever worked in promotions in radio, television or magazines you will know who I am talking about. In fact I would bet that many of you know some of these people by name.

How successful are they?

“”I’ve practically been able to furnish my whole house and children’s’ bedrooms and everything” a quote from one competition fanatic taken from thisĀ article.

Competition fanatics can be very successful, indeed making a living of the winnings of competitions. You only have to watch stories on a current affair shown every four months to see this. For the ATO of course this raises an interesting question of whether winnings are taxable income and I suspect that some of these professionals have or may run into issues with the ATO on declaring income on their profession.

Legitimate fanatics vs cheats

From a trade promotion perspective there is nothing untoward having the one person win so many prizes that they are able to furnish their house. After all they have probably spent hours and hours finding and entering competitions and deserve to win some in return. It’s not that these people are lucky, they just work hard to increase the likelihood of winning.

On the other hand there are a small percentage of people who cheat. They use international- possibly criminally involved groups- to buy votes to win voting competitions. They use computer scripts to enter online competitions under different names, with different emails and addresses to gain an unfair advantage over other entrants in a competition. These people are more likely to be encountered in very large and very well published competitions. It is possible that these people may not only be breaching competition terms and conditions, and may therefore be disqualified, but also breaching the law. It is a crime to obtain a financial advantage by deception.

How can promoters manage this?

Promoters must first understand that a competition will attract both the casual entrant and the prize fanatic. There is nothing wrong with a prize fanatic entering a competition a thousand times if the competition terms and conditions allow an unlimited number of entries per person.

Competition terms and conditions must be drafted to carefully consider the various types of people who may enter and the objective of the Promoter. If a promoter wishes to limit the number of entries per person they should also consider using a validation processes to stop the potential for someone to enter using different IP addresses, emails, and variations on their name. The competition terms should clearly state the rules in regards to entering in the entrants own name and in relation to scripting and using a third party to enter on their behalf. CAPTCHA code should be used for all online competitions as this requires an entrant to enter in letters from an image and reduces the risk of scripting to be used.

There are some website which charge entrants a fee for the website to enter a competition on their behalf. Trade promotion laws prohibit a person being charged a fee to enter and it will be interesting to see the regulator’s response to this shortly.

How should a promoter respond in the case of cheating?

The above information is all fine and well until you actually experience a situation where you suspect someone has cheated. In such a situation you cannot simply disqualify the person without firstly considering whether: a) the person has actually cheated, b) the terms and conditions of your competition allow you to do so, c) any trade promotion permit conditions, and d) any other obligations you have. In some cases what may first appear to be cheating can turn out to be an entrant simply exploiting a loop hold in your terms and conditions and in such a situation you will just have to live with it.