In the know logo

Ok, you asked for it so here goes with a guide to all things comping starting with the basics. If you have anything to add, please get in touch!

I realise for most of you this section will be a bit like teaching you to suck eggs but I'm hopeful all of you will find something in it useful whether you're new to coming or not! Here goes ...

What is an instant win?

An instant win promotion is one on which a company places a message within the packaging of their product, telling the consumer they have or have not won a prize. This type of promotion should always be a 'no purchase necessary' one.

This does not mean one can open all the tubs of margarine in the supermarket, looking for winning messages, as one gentleman did. It simply means that rather than buying the item, a plain piece of paper with your name and address details on it can be sent to the promotion address and a container will be opened on your behalf.

If you are a winner, you will be notified. You will, by law, have an equal chance of winning this way, as if you'd bought the product.

Generally, promoters who run instant wins put half the prizes on product labels etc. and reserve the other half for plain paper entries. These entries are increasingly being chosen randomly from the databases created using the plain paper entries and selected by computer.

Therefore, when entering instant win promotions, the use of pretty paper or bright envelopes it is not recommended, as cheap stationery should do just as nicely!

Why can't I find any entry forms?

If you have searched all the shelves in store and asked staff, customer services and the manager, without any luck, you could write to the store's head office. However, what might be an easier way of getting forms is to subscribe to an entry form service or to make use of an entry form exchange.

What do I do if I move house?

It would probably be worthwhile paying the post office to forward any mail to your new address for at least 6 months after you move, thus allowing for even the slowest of promoters to send on your prizes.

What is a plain paper entry?

A plain paper entry is exactly as it sounds. Some prize draws do not require an entry form or a purchase. They are called free prize draws and simply require the competitor to write their details on a piece of plain paper and send them in a stamped envelope to the promotion address.

What size should a plain paper entry be?

If the rules specify a certain size, then obviously this is the size to use. Otherwise, any size will be fine. However, for instant wins, where you send your details and a can, bottle etc is opened for you, it would be a waste of money to use a piece of A4 paper for one entry, when you could cut it into six pieces.

What's the difference between one per person and one per household entries?

When a competition specifies one entry per person, it means just that. However, there is no reason why other members of the household should not enter.

What's the difference between one per person and one per household entries? ... Continued

If you enter in their names, be sure to tell them and to ensure that you have agreed on what happens to the prize if their entry wins!

If the prize is a holiday or a cash prize, do be sure that entries will still mean that cheques and travel tickets will be in an acceptable name though. It's no good getting a cheque in your sisters name if she has no bank account, for example!

One entry per household means just that, so be sure that if there is more than one comper living at your house, you don't invalidate each others entry by sending more than one.

Do not be misled by competitions where one prize per household is allowed, as this does not always mean only one entry per household is allowed.

Why do I sometimes get my own postcard entries returned to me?

When writing a postcard entry, it is important to add the words 'To' and 'From' and to write your own details at 90 degrees to those of the promoters (i.e. sideways). This seems to prevent the post office sorting machines from mistaking the destination address.

Can I put all my entries to the same promoter in one big envelope?

Unless otherwise stated, this is not recommended as promoters do not always open the envelope for draws, so you could end up, in effect, having only made the one entry.

What is a qualifier?

A qualifier can be a till receipt, a barcode, a wrapper, label or a business stamp, in fact any of a number of things which proves that the entrant has bought a product or in other words has qualified for entry into the competition.

What if I win a holiday for 2 but I have children I want to take?

It is well worth telling the promoters that you would like to pay the extra to take your children. They will almost always allow this and have been known to do this without any extra cost to you!

Similarly, winners of holidays for four, who are only in need of two places can sometimes find themselves upgraded or get some spending money thrown in, so it never hurt to ask.

Follow the Rules Exactly

Always be sure to follow the rules to the letter or your entry will not succeed. It may sound obvious, but many entries are eliminated because they didn't do just this. If asked to 'write' your details, then do write them in black or blue ball-point pen and block capitals, unless otherwise stated.

If asked to 'send' or 'put' your details, then sticky address labels or type written forms are acceptable. Finally, be sure to meet deadlines by checking closing dates.

What does No purchase necessary mean?

This generally means that entries can be made using a postcard, plain paper or entry form without buying a qualifier. Like with instant wins, always check small print on entry forms for plain paper allowances, as sometimes a product will feature a competition and entry form, but the small print will state that entries on plain paper are acceptable.

What value stamp should I use?

A first class stamp is presently 27p and a second class is 19p. A first class letter should arrive on the following working day. A second class letter should arrive within 4 working days.

What is a Slogan?

When a slogan tie breaker is required, it will usually be in the form of a sentence which needs to be finished off in a specified number of words, 10, 12 and 15 being the most frequently required numbers. If the rules state no more than ten words, then ten is the maximum number to be used.

Watch out for rules stating 'less than', for example, 10, as the maximum allowed is then 9. Also remember that the terms 'it's','doesn't' etc. actually count as 2 not one word, since they are shortened ways of writing it is, does not etc.

What is an Acrostic?

An Acrostic is a slogan in which the first letter of each word spells another word. For example, 'It's Cool And Neat And Downs A treat', which is an acrostic of CANADA.

What is a rhyming couplet?

A rhyming couplet is the style most frequently used in slogan writing. Examples of rhyming couplets are: I'm tickled pink because it matches my sink On a long distance shop, it's my pit stop Perfect taste in every pack, something other juices lack....etc....

What is a chestnut?

A chestnut is a slogan which has been used many, many times and is known to all seasoned compers. For example, Experts perfect them, perfectionists select them. Although these slogans are very unpopular with some compers, they still seem to win prizes.

Can I use a till receipt with one item on it?

If a competition requires a proof of purchase, in the form of a till receipt, there is nothing in the rules to state there needs to be any other purchase on the receipt.

However, the documentary on the "Comping Queen" followed the judging of a Dubonnet competition where an excellent slogan was dismissed because the receipt only had one item and was deemed as being that of a 'professional' competitor.

Therefore, putting a couple of items on each receipt might be a wise decision. The lady whose Dubonnet slogan was dismissed puts 3 mushrooms on every qualifying receipt now, if she doesn't have any other shopping to get!!

Can I use other people's receipts?

Unless the qualifier states a label, bottle top, or the like, AND a till receipt is needed, there is no reason why picking up old till receipts showing the correct purchase shouldn't be done. Unless of course the date of purchase does not fall within any dates specified on the entry form!

Will I ever be asked to pay to receive my prize?

The general rule is NO! Unless you actually remember entering a competition which specified payment would be necessary, then you are generally dealing with a con or a timeshare, either way, take advice before you part with your cash. A reputable company who runs a competition to promote their product would never expect the winners to pay!

Should I buy coloured envelopes?

Some people believe coloured envelopes and picture postcards are more likely to win prizes than plain ones, however, there is no way of knowing whether a judge would favour either one, besides, every competition has a different judge. It is probably worth experimenting by trying both, or if you have children, get them to decorate white envelopes with coloured pens.

Most people tend to favour picture postcards though. warning...some of the big solutionists are selling postcards and envelopes of a poor quality, so beware when ordering products. If a company is not prepared to send you a sample, then wonder why!!

What do the Abbreviations mean?

Can I enter free prize draws more than once when it does not say "one entry per household"?

As far as I am concerned, when it doesn't state one per household, or one per person, I tend to send as many entries as I am able to....if I want the prize.I regard draws as something like a Raffle, in that the more entries I make (or tickets I buy) he better my chance of winning!

What is the maximum weight allowed for an envelope with a single first class stamp?

No more than 60gms first or second class i.e. at least 6-8 postcards.

What is the average time in their opinion, it takes for a post card with a second class stamp to reach it's destination if posted on a Monday morning within the UK?

Should be Tuesday but could be Wednesday or Thursday, depends how much first class post about, as that takes priority. Second class gets sorted once the first class is done so that can take three or four days. I would always try to send second class leaving at least a week before the closing date. it makes no difference whether it is a postcard or a letter, as long as it has correct postage and a legible postcode.

When it says pc do they accept stuck down envelopes with the details on the back?

My X-handling house friend was quite pedantic in her job. A Pc was NOT a stuck down envelope unless it said they were acceptable, also "write your n & a" - i.e. she rejected rubber stamps & labels etc. If there are rules always try and follow them.

Can I claim if a letter is lost?

Only if you can prove you posted it. An easy and free way to do that is to fill in a certificate of posting at your post office. You can claim up to 26 in compensation if your letter doesn't arrive.

Without that proof they don't have to pay. Of course, where claims for instant wins are concerned, remember to take the value of the prize you may be claiming into consideration.

What if I don't put on enough stamps?

The receiver will be asked to pay 20p plus the extra postage. If they refuse, the mail will be sent back to you. This will be very disappointing if it causes you to miss a closing date!

Stopping Junk Mail

Entering competitions can mean you get added to mailing lists, here's how to get off that list The easiest one to stop is Junk Mail - you can write, FREE, directly to the Mailing Preference Service at:

Mailing Preference Service
Freepost 22
or call the direct marketing helpline on
0345 034599
to get a form.

You can also call this number to contact the Phone Preference Service and stop junk phone calls (bit more complex as it depends on who supplies your phoneline if you are with BT go through the BT operator - BT doesn't advertise this service widely!

To stop Faxes phone the Fax Preference Service on 0541 554555 for a form, or use the 0345 034599 number again.

Having said that, why bother as if you want to enter competitions regularly you are effectively advertising your name & address to the company or promoter and are always going to get mailings.

This is not always a bad thing as there is always a chance that the "junk mail" contains a new competition!!!

And finally for the moment:

I need to enter a competiton by e-mail but don't have a computer.

If you have a mobile phone you can still enter by e-mail. It will cost you the same as sending a text messsage - about 10 or 12 pence depending on your mobile phone network provider.

Here's what you do:

Start the message with a capital M followed by a space then the email address, followed by a space and then your message,


create a new message on your phone and start it like this:

M <>

Send the message to one of the following numbers depending on which network YOU are with:

BT-Cellnet 07720 296 269

Orange 07974 914 680

One-2-One 07946 354 378

Vodafone 07769 707 344

I've tried it a few times and can confirm irt definitely works!

Quick way of entering an e-mail competition which is still cheaper than a stamp but you don't need a computer - magic!

Any more hints and advice? Please send them in for use in a future Compadix.

Question mark

Copyright © 2000-2003
Last modified 26/11/2003