If you read the title and were a little confused about when I ran a contest, I don't blame you. Many months ago I ran a contest. I've been waiting until the prizes were given out to announce the winners. I had hoped to include another mention of the book, so that the promotional company would get addition bang for their buck. However, I would be doing that for reasons that will soon be clear.
I typically don't like to run contests for various reasons that I listed. However, since the prize was being offered to me for free, I figured I could turn it into a win-win-win situation. The publishing company of the book around the contest got publicity, I got a little traffic, and a reader gets a $200 designer briefcase. What did someone once say about the best laid plans?
Everything went smoothly until it was time for Sideways Media to hand out the prizes. Here's what I went through after I submitted the list of winners on July 30th:
- I was initially told that the prizes would be shipped out the week of Jul 30th.
- August 6th, I got word that the books were promotional copies and not real ones, so there would be a delay in getting them.
- August 20th, I asked again for the progress. The briefcase that they received was damaged, so it had to be sent back.
- September 7th, I inquired again, hoping to wrap up the contest. This request was ignored
- September 24th, I sent another inquiry, but my contact said she had been overseas for a couple of months and email is "tricky." Also, "Everything should have been taken care of by the publisher months ago."
- I informed her on the September 25th that the winner said he didn't receive his prize. My contact promised to check tracking numbers and get it "solved ASAP."
- October 2nd, I ask how the tracking numbers are coming along since I haven't received them. I try to give a deadline by asking for them by the end of day tomorrow. At this point I figure it can't hurt
- October 5th, she said that she wasn't able to information from the publishers, but that she was going to go out that weekend and buy the books and briefcase and that Sideway Media "will cover the costs of everything." This is fantastic news to me because finally someone is taking responsibility. I still want to make sure people get their prizes, so I ask for tracking numbers as they are sent out.
- November 14th, (I was away on vacation and it simply slipped my mind a bit) I check back, not having received any of the promised tracking numbers. I get a response back that she'll "check with the prizing partner." This confuses me greatly since she was going to buy the briefcase and books herself.
- November 17th, I remind her that she was to buy the prizes herself.
- November 21st, after receiving no response to my Nov. 17th, I try again
- November 26th, I finally decide to CC the winner on the e-mail so that he can see what I went through. This finally does it and I get the FedEx tracking number of it finally being shipped out.
I really hope that Ryan in Ohio enjoys his briefcase. It looks like it was dropped off at his home earlier today. If I were him I'd think about taking the briefcase to Sideways Media and bonking them on the head. I'm joking, I would never recommend assault someone. At the same time, can you blame both Ryan and I for being frustrated at their lack of professionalism? I'm happy to give a couple a few strikes, but before you have 7 or 8 mix-ups, you have to take things into your own hands and solve it.
Interesting stats: The e-mail thread has two, "I apologizes" and four, "I'm sorry"s from my contact at Sideways Media.
I learned two things from this. The first is to not outsource the prize fulfillment. I did this to protect my real address, but in retrospect, that should have been a risk I took. The second lesson is to not run contests. It seems like there's a lot of potential legal snafus with them. Other bloggers have the great idea of just giving away prizes at random or to great commenters. I'm currently not financially in a position to do such a thing, but this sounds like the smart way to go.
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