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The Fine Print

I searched my office high and low and dug through all the drawers in my house for at least fifteen minutes until I found it: my magnifying glass. This is fast becoming an essential tool for my competition journey. How else can I possibly read all the terms and conditions that accompany every competition (every legitimate one that is)? I am now trying to cautiously read the fine print for each one I think would be interesting enough to enter to make sure I am not wasting my time. Most people don’t read them at all (so I believe) which is a shame as here are a few more reasons I have learned to carefully read them:-

(1) Who’s Running It.

It makes sense to be fully aware of who is actually running the competition. Sometimes this is a bit vague. If you are unsure about the origins of a competition you can simply go directly to their website to get further information. Is there someone you can contact if you need to? It also helps when planning your entry to know as much as possible about the organiser as it is always a good policy to make a positive mention of the company, brand or products in any answers.

(2) Eligibility

It is also important to check your eligibility to enter. Most competitions require entrants to be over 18 years. Sometimes children over 13 can enter but they must have their parents consent. Is it being run in your state? Regulations vary from state to state to state but all this can be found in the fine print.

(3) The Closing Date

There is nothing more annoying than spending time putting together your wonderful entry and then discovering that the competition has actually expired. The opening and closing dates will be spelt out in detail often also with details of the dates of various draws if it is being run over a long period of time. This is essential information. Mark them on your calendar and don’t forget them!

(4) The Prize Pool

Details of the total prize pool and the value of the prizes (usually RRP not necessarily cost to the sponsors), the prize conditions (such as not transferable or able to be exchanged for cash) will be found here as well as how winners will be contacted and able to claim their prizes. I always want to know all this well in advance. Obviously I don’t sit by the phone on the day the entries are drawn. I just get on with entering the next one.

(5) The Method and Number of Entries Allowed

Are there a number of methods of entry? Can you enter by mail if you don’t want to put your contact and personal details online? The fine print will also spell out the number of entries allowed and the approximate cost of an entry is by phone or SMS. Be careful. These are bits of information that are more important than you might suppose.

(6) Proof of Purchase

Do you need to get and keep a receipt with a purchase? I tend to ask for a receipt just in case because it is usually too late once you leave a shop with the required product but without a receipt and then realise you need one. I have a safe place to keep them and I always follow my advice – and ask for a receipt.

(7) Privacy

A lot of competitions these days ask for quite a bit of information. It is usually when asked to register at a website to join as a prerequisite to entering. Or when you ‘like’ a Facebook page and then you agree to allow access to your personal information and contacts. Privacy is of utmost concern to all of us these days so the terms and conditions may alert you to what you may need to provide to the organisers and how they may use it. Watch out – before you inadvertently agree to something – you may regret it at a later date.

Now I am getting used to reading the fine print is seems to only take a few minutes to scan quickly though these points and then feel confident when I tick the ‘I have read to terms and conditions’ box that usually accompanies an entry form. I certainly don’t want to miss out on anything that could hinder getting hold of a prize that belongs to me by not following the rules. Oh, by the way I won a Yoghurt Making Kit and a Totem Tennis Set this week. So it’s still happening!

After working for thirty years as a journalist/historian, Jenny started writing sci-fi for children and adults and occasionally illustrating them (when she was not spending time with her grandkids). Most have been published in The School Magazine, anthologies and online. She has also been contributing to a wide variety of magazines such as Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit, Australiana and Nurture. Now essentially retired Jenny has taken up a challenge of entering and (hopefully winning) competitions. Jenny will track her journey through this challenge here at www.competitions.com.au.

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