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Sweepstakes Disqualification: What It Is And How To Avoid It

Make sure your sweepstakes entries count by avoiding these common mistakes

When trying to win a prize, it makes sense to use smart sweepstakes strategies that will help you maximize your chances of winning. In fact, it might be tempting to try to tip the odds in your favor by disobeying the rules a little. But if you don't follow the rules, you run the risk of being disqualified.

What is disqualification:

Merriam-Weber defines disqualification as being "unsuitable for a prize or further competition" because of a violation of the rules. In other words, if a company catches you breaking or bending the rules of a giveaway, you are no longer eligible to win a prize in that giveaway.

Getting disqualified is a huge waste of time. The effort you put into finding and entering the giveaway is in vain as you have no more chance of winning.

How do sponsors decide who should be disqualified? For every promotional gift, the sponsoring company should provide a robust set of rules in which it is described in detail who, how, when and how often can participate. The rules should contain other helpful information, such as the details of the prize and how the winner (s) will be notified.

The rules act as a kind of contract between the participant and the sponsoring company so that both sides know what to expect from the giveaway. Sponsors have an obligation to ensure that their winners have followed these rules. So they'll either double-check all of their entries to make sure they're valid before drawing a winner, or they'll double-check each of their winners to make sure everything is up to date. If something is up on the entry, the winners will be disqualified before they are even notified.

Once the winner has been selected and notified, the sponsoring company may decide to conduct another round of affidavit verification, with the winner verifying their registration information in front of a witness.

How do you avoid disqualification? It goes without saying that you shouldn't cheat.

Fraud isn't worth it because it's so easy to pin down, it's immoral, discourages companies from offering freebies (thus reducing the number of prizes you can win), and it can even have legal ramifications.

But you don't have to intentionally cheat to have your sweepstakes disqualified. If you're not careful, it's easy to make a mistake and stick to the rules.

Easy to Make Mistakes That Disqualified You from Online Sweepstakes:

Especially if you are new to sweepstakes there are a few simple mistakes that can disqualify you. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:

To often enter : For Every giveaway has an entry restriction that indicates how often you can participate. Some only leave once, others every day, and still others weekly, monthly, or as often as you want. Ignore these input limits at your own risk, because entries that are entered too often can disqualify not only your additional entries, but also all of your authorized entries.

Failure to check residency requirements: Most sweepstakes are limited to a specific geographic region, whether it's a country or countries, a state, a city, or a zip code.

If you enter without checking that your home address makes you unauthorized, you will quickly be disqualified and you will have wasted the time you spent entering sweepstakes that you might actually win.

Not the age requirementscheck : There are also competitions for children, for retirees, for people over the age of the majority and more. While most sweepstakes are open to anyone over the age of 18, you can save your time and sponsors before you check in.

Do not meet other conditions of participation : Some freebies have additional restrictions on who can participate. For example, tobacco company sweepstakes must ensure that only current tobacco consumers can enter. Other freebies may require membership of an organization such as the AARP, with subscribers being customers of a subscription service (subject to the no-entry procedure rules), and so on.

Failure to follow the rules for entering : The safest way to participate in sweepstakes is to only enter for yourself and to enter your entries by hand. If you want to list a spouse or family member, or if you want to use a time saver like a form-filling program or an auto-fill service, make sure the rules don't forbid it first.

You are associated with the sponsor : To avoid any semblance of favoritism, most companies prohibit their employees and business sponsors from entering their giveaways. Immediate family members of employees and business partners are also not eligible for profits. If you or your relatives have a relationship with the company sponsoring the giveaway, you should check that you are not allowed inside.

Aside from these general pitfalls, it's a good idea to read the rules of every single giveaway to make sure there aren't any additional restrictions that could disqualify your listings.

Mistakes That Disqualify You From Skill-Based Contests:

Aside from all the mistakes you can make in online sweepstakes, skill-based competitions have additional rules that you can stumble upon if you're not careful. Here are some of the most common mistakes contestants make:

Let your essays run for too long : Most essay competitions have a strict number of characters or a limited word. If you hike and exceed the limit, no matter how good it is, your listing could be disqualified.

Submit files that are too large : At Photo contests is the photo size usually limited, while video contests usually have a time limit for submitting photos. Make sure to take these limits seriously if you want to win.

Not using the right ingredients : Many recipe competitions have a specific list of ingredients that you must use or select. If you don't use the correct amounts of the qualifying ingredients, your entry could be thrown out.

The theme of the Competition to ignore : Every competition has a theme, be it a cutest baby competition or a search for the perfect burger recipe on the grill. Make sure it's clear and precise how your entry fits the topic perfectly in order to stay in the running.

Including the competitor's logos : You may not realize how many logos are out there until you start a photo or video shoot that can't include one. Most contests say you can't use logos or any proprietary information (like unauthorized music) in your entries, so if you're not specific enough you can cost you a prize.

Have the "wrong" people in your listing : Some contests say you need to be the only person involved in your photo or video listing. Others say that if you are including other people, you must have a signed model release form for each person. Ethereal way, be sure that you will not be disqualified for the other people in your submission.

How to go the wrong way : There are many legitimate ways to get votes for your contest entries. However, many companies will disqualify listings if they believe you are cheating your way to more votes. Using file sharing networks, offering cash or prizes for voting, and even soliciting votes in raffle forums can result in your entries being disqualified.

Making the Sponsoring Company Look Bad : If you think it's cute or funny to do contest entries that mock the companies that sponsor the contest, you might be right. You might even get the votes to win. But there's a good chance the company isn't doing it well and will instead disqualify your listing, as American Apparel did when they decided that a contestant "mocked the confident and excited contestants."

The most important thing to avoid disqualification:

Remember that while these are some of the most common ways to be disqualified, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Participants were disqualified for overlooking a minor eligibility, making a small but unauthorized change to a photo, and more. It is important to read the rules of any giveaway and understand them thoroughly.

Especially when it comes to contest entries, be sure to go over the rules one more time before submitting to be sure that you have dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" and that you are perfectly in line with the rules.