When you enter a prize draw or competition, do you read the small print? I do. Of course, I’m naturally competitive and always keen to see whether someone else has composed a better set of terms and conditions than Prizeology (obviously that never happens!). However, because I work in the prize promotions industry, I’m also acutely aware of how important Ts&Cs are, for both the prize draw promoter and the person entering the prize draw.
Ts&Cs are there to protect both parties. Under the CAP Code, which regulates promotional marketing in the UK, certain information must be included in the Ts&Cs, for instance what the closing date is and how the winner will be chosen. These points protect entrants and reassure them that the promotion will be conducted fairly.
However, Ts&Cs protect the promoter or company running the competition, too. For example, they will state who can – and therefore who can’t – enter, where they live, the details of the prize, what will happen if certain unexpected eventualities take place and so on. By setting out what the entrant can expect, the promoter has a clear schedule of what they need to do. In fact, a good set of Ts&Cs is shaped by the promoter’s objectives in running the draw or competition, and acts as a handy checklist of their responsibilities.
Writing a robust set of Ts&Cs that complies with all legal and regulatory requirements, protects entrants and ensures the promoter isn’t left open to reputational damage or, even worse, a legal challenge, takes experience and skill. At Prizeology we do a lot of this type of work, we put a lot of effort into it and, I have to say, we’re very good at it.
However, we know that there’s always room for improvement, so we recently some commissioned research and one of the things we were interested in was how savvy people are about Ts&Cs. We asked a representative sample of the UK public (actually, the nice nerdy types at Vitreous World did it on our behalf) a general question about whether they took any actions before entering a prize draw, competition or promotion.
The good news was that 88% of people took some kind of action. Women were slightly more likely to act than men and, somewhat surprisingly, the 55 to 64 age group were slightly less likely to verify a promotion in some way, but basically across all age groups and regions of the UK, the majority of people were relatively proactive.
However, when we drilled down a bit, the picture was less reassuring. Less than half – only 40% – said they read the Ts&Cs thoroughly, with 35% admitting that they just had a quick glance at the Ts&Cs. This, my friends, isn’t good enough.
It isn’t good enough, because if you’re entering a prize draw it’s only sensible to make sure you understand what you’re getting involved in. The eligibility criteria might, for instance, reveal that it’s not open to people outside the US or that a holiday prize must be taken outside the school holidays and if that’s the case, is it really worth entering? Why waste your time?
Also, although the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations are tightening this up, if you’re not careful you could find you’ve unwittingly opted in to unwanted daily emails. And, yes, if there aren’t any Ts&Cs at all, it is very likely to be as scam, because that’s one of the tell-tale signs.
It isn’t good enough if you’re a promoter either, because it means your Ts&Cs are off-putting and quite possibly totally unreadable. Just like the terms of service you agree to when you join Facebook (or is that maybe not such as good example?!), they need to be written in plain English, and completely clear and transparent. Those are the attributes we pride ourselves on at Prizeology and, indeed, we craft Ts&Cs to reflect the personality of your brand, because we believe they should be integral to any campaign, not an add-on.
Have I convinced you that Ts&Cs are important? I hope so. Should I stop now? Probably, but I’ve just got one or technically two final points. The quality of the Ts&Cs can make or break a promotion and at Prizeology we write very fine Ts&Cs.
As well as being Prizeology’s chief prizeologist, Sarah Burns is a Scambassador for the National Trading Standards Scams Team.