Sweepstakes – Avoiding Missed Prizes

sweepingThis week in my sweepstakes series, we are going to talk about avoiding missed prizes. There are three very, very important tips you need to keep in mind so that you don’t. I have no doubt that, in the beginning, I probably missed a few good prizes because I wasn’t aware of these things:

1. If possible, don’t use a PO Box address. 

Now, I realize this one might be partially out of your control. Depending on where you live, a PO Box might be the only option you have for getting most of your mail. But even if it is, there are still some things you can do to ensure you don’t miss most of your prizes, and I’ll get to that below in just a bit.

The reason you should avoid entering using your PO Box is because for one, the sponsor/company shipping the prize doesn’t always state what shipping method they’re going to use. In fact, most of the time they don’t. So if you enter with your PO Box and that’s all they have to go by, you will miss out on your prize if they use UPS or Fed Ex instead. Sometimes I do see a “No PO Boxes please” message on various giveaways and if you see this, that’s a good indication they are not going to ship your prize via USPS.

While I have had many prizes come by way of USPS, I have had just as many come through UPS and Fed Ex. When I first started this hobby, I only used a PO Box because that’s all I had, not realizing that I could be knocking myself out of valuable prizes.

The next question of course is, what if you enter using your physical address instead of your PO Box and you don’t have a mailbox at your residence (or can’t get one for some reason)? Won’t that then knock you out of the prizes that come via USPS? Yes, it could. But some sweepers have found a way around this problem. If you are in a position where you can’t get a mailbox and you have to use a PO Box, simply use both your physical and PO Box addresses in your entry. You’ve probably noticed that there is almost always a “Line 2” when filling out your address. Put your PO Box on line 1 and your physical address on line 2. This way, your wins will have a shot at getting to you no matter who is delivering them.

Obviously if your PO Box and physical addresses don’t have the same zip code, this could cause another problem because you can only put in one city, state, zip code. If that’s the case with you, all you can really do is cross your fingers and choose one or the other when filling out entries or go ahead and get a PO Box with the same zip code as your physical address so you do have the same zip code.

2. Check Your Spam Folder

I cannot stress this one enough. In fact, I almost missed out on a prize the other day because I often forget to check my spam folder. I checked it on a whim and saw that I had won a Crate & Barrel grill tool set worth $60 that my husband is just going to love! I couldn’t help but think, I nearly missed out on this prize because I don’t check spam that much. And I would have.

When skimming through your spam, keep your eyes peeled for messages that have “Winner” or “Congratulations” in the subject line. If you’re like me, you get a ton of spam so it may seem a bit overwhelming to go through it all, but if you’ll just make it a habit to do daily and then go through and delete what really is spam, you’ll keep your folder cleaned out and it won’t seem like such a chore when you do it.

Obviously you are going to get some messages that have “Winner” and “Congratulations” in the subject field that aren’t actually wins. I do get some spam messages informing me that I’ve won a free laptop, $500 Wal-Mart gift card, etc. Lots of times messages like this will be really vague and won’t provide a lot of detail. That’s how you know they’re fake. They don’t really say who you won the prize from or anything. I got one this morning from an email address that started with free-tablet saying I had won a free tablet and to click the link for details. No way was I clicking that link! I just trashed it.

3. Review Your Entry Before Hitting Submit

I am guilty of not doing this myself because I get in a hurry, but sometimes you can mess up and put the wrong info in the wrong fields. Sometimes Roboform (if you use it for entering faster) won’t input everything correctly and you’ll have your name in the address field and your zip code in the phone number field, etc. Most of the time, the form won’t go through if that happens and you’ll get an error so you can go back and fix it, but sometimes it will. If you send something like that through without noticing, you’re not going to have a shot at the prize most likely because your details are unclear.

I really hope these tips help you avoid missed prizes! I would also recommend reading this article on About.com that I found on the Top 10 Mistakes Sweepers Make.

New to my sweepstakes series? Here are the previous posts you might have missed.

Read Part Six – Sweepstakes and Taxes

How has sweeping been going for you? I know some of you have already been reporting some wins! Please share your progress below in the comments. 

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