How to organise quallies, receipts & POPs
Even though comping has moved on a lot in the past decade or so, with most prize draws and comps promoted mainly online, the hobby still involves a fair bit of paperwork. I enter a lot of on-pack promotions, and have recently upgraded to an amazing Rapesco expanding file (affiliate link) to store my receipts, POPs (proofs-of-purchase) and packaging in monthly sections. In this post I’m sharing a few suggestions on how you can keep your comping bits and bobs safe!
For lots of prize promotions – particularly instant wins – you’ll need to buy the qualifying products in order to enter – most compers refer to these as quallies. In addition to the quallie – which may or may not have a unique code printed on the packaging – you’ll usually have to keep your receipt safe too – this is your POP (proof of purchase).
Check the T&Cs
If you do buy a product to enter a prize draw or competition, check the terms and conditions carefully – do you need to keep hold of the packaging, the receipt, or both? Promoters tend to be extra cautious when writing T&Cs and often they will ask entrants to keep the packaging and receipt for every entry they make. They very rarely ask to see them – but it’s not worth the risk of throwing them away, as you could end up throwing away a prize!
As soon as I get home with a receipt for a quallie, I snap a photo of it on my iPhone and save it into an album I’ve created called ‘receipts’. Then if I get notification of a win, and am asked for a photo of my receipt, I can then quickly find it and email or text it to the promoter without waiting until I get home! There’s also the problem that the text on some till receipts fades – if you take a photo before you file it away, you can always print that off and send with a faded receipt if required.
The good news is that more promoters are asking to see photos of receipts at the time of entry – for example, the Poundland Big Clean promotion – which means no panicking if you win, because the promoter has already checked your proof of purchase! Some promoters use the technology of cashback app Shopmium to process receipts at the point of entry too. I do still like to keep hold of my receipt even after uploading though – just in case something isn’t clear on it and they need a new photo.
If the quallie has packaging or a neck collar, I staple the receipt to it and file it under the closing date month in my expanding file.
For a promotion I’ll be entering multiple times, I keep the receipts together in one envelope and write any corresponding unique codes or entry dates on the receipts too.
The important part of the packaging is the part showing the unique code – or barcode – that you entered online, so for some products you can just keep that part (eg. for large Tyrrell’s sharing bags of popcorn or crisps), and pop them into your file with your receipts.
Unfortunately, for some products the promoter asks you to keep the whole thing – shower gel bottles, or soup lids for example. In that case, the best thing to do is assign a plastic carrier bag or box to keep them safely and set a reminder in your diary (or online calendar) to throw them out a few months after the competition closing date. It’s a pain, but worth the risk of losing out on an amazing holiday? I don’t think so!
Luckily the Rapesco file expands and can fit LOTS of packaging in too!
Entry forms and T&Cs
I also still like to keep hold of the competition details that accompany any magazine and comic entry form comps that I post off. Occasionally, I’ll print off a copy of online T&Cs and keep that with the receipt or packaging in my file – although most of the time, I like to save a copy of the T&Cs using the Evernote app on my iPhone.
It’s worth keeping hold of original advertising and terms for comps, just in case no winners are announced, and you need to let the Advertising Standards Authority know about it – they prefer to see the original marketing material if you submit a complaint.
If I can’t enter a competition immediately – for example, drawing competitions from my son’s comics – I tuck it into the front of my comps file as a reminder, along with the latest issue of Compers News, a few stamped envelopes, my highlighter and a biro!
How long to keep everything?
I keep things for 12 months after the closing date – I have a second back up file, and at the end of the year I move all the receipts and packaging into the relevant monthly section of my back up file (the back up file is emptied before I do this!)
These days there are also lots of ‘late entry’ draws (also called ‘wrap up’ or ‘mop up’ draws), long after the main promotions end. Again, don’t risk throwing out your POPs until after that date!
Promoters should allow 28 days for a winner to respond to the notification of a win – and supply any required POP. If the winner doesn’t reply, the promoter has to choose another winner – and allow another 28 days for the replacement winner to respond, and so on. In some cases, it can take months to contact and validate a winner – so don’t give up hope too soon!
A hard lesson learnt?
In 2016 Silver Bay Point wine awarded three cars to winners of their generous on-pack promotion. Unfortunately one winner couldn’t provide a neck collar or receipt to prove she’d bought the wine, and as a result she had to forfeit the prize car. So make sure you keep everything safely until you’re certain the winners have been informed – plus, for a couple of months afterwards. After all, you could be that replacement winner after someone else has messed up!
How do you organise your comping receipts and packaging? Have you ever had to produce a receipt to claim your prize – only to realise you’d lost it? Let me know in the comments!