February 15, 2011

How to Protect Yourself When A Giveaway Goes Wrong

My current giveaway is ending and though it sound so simple and seem like an easy, no-brainer endeavor to handle, I tell you now, it. is. not. There's more to giveaway than meets the eye. And based on my own recent experience and discovering I'm not the only one victimized by the dark side of hosting a giveaway, I think it best to share some No-BS ways to protect yourself from unnecessary liabilities when things go South just like what happened to me!

The Nightmare: 
I hosted a giveaway before Christmas for Wonky Tonky Company. A well-known brand that I personally use, trust and love. I was ecstatic when Wonky Tonky Company asked me to host a giveaway on its' behalf. It was logical that I accepted. I immediately went to work on the giveaway since I was flying out of town for the holidays. Nothing can be simpler than that right? Well, not really. The giveaway ended as scheduled. Winner was chosen. Flew off to vacation. Weeks passed. The winner never received the prize. Winner started emailing me non-stop demanding for her prize while I was on vacation. Yes, it ruined a portion of my happy vacation if you must know! What to do? Sensible action was of course, to follow-up with Wonky Tonky Company in spite of my annoyance. I emailed them several times. Weeks went by. No response. I even emailed one of their alleged PR whose name was provided to me by another influential blogger-friend who worked with this person before and who likewise, was fully aware of my dilemma, but zip, nil, nada! My email went unheard. No word up to this day...

Winner continued to email me relentlessly. I had no plausible reason to give but be honest about the whole situation. I had no other way of getting in touch with Wonky Tonky Company besides the email address I have of them. Like I said, I trusted this brand. In desperation, I went and searched for Wonky Tonky Company account on twitter and found it. I tweeted Wonky Tonky Company many times before I finally got a response ~ only to be told to email them on the same email I ALREADY HAVE AND NOT GETTING ANY IMMEDIATE RESPONSE FROM! What irony!

To make the story short. After weeks of trying to get Wonky Tonky Company's attention, I finally got some response. I was told they were going to take care of the issue with a promise of sending the prize item that following week and that "to trust them, they're on top of it". I was relieved. I forwarded the email to winner to assure her. THAT week came and gone. No prize. Winner again emailed me already beyond annoyed. I forwarded her email to Wonky Tonky Company. That was two weeks ago and also the last time I've heard from winner ~ *crossing my fingers and toes* as I write this. And if you guess I will never work with Wonky Tonky Company again after this ~ you are quite right! It really is a shame. I still like their products but can't help feel a tinge of irritation now every time I see their name on their product labels and in media. How can a prominent company be so self-incriminating and unreliable?

Don't get caught in the same mess!
  • Include a disclaimer - protect yourself from unnecessary headache for any giveaway, either personal or sponsored by adding a clear statement that you are not responsible for any lost, damaged or unreceived sponsored prizes and that by entering the giveaway, entrants releases you from all liabilities. It's totally not your fault that sponsor decided to flake out on you!
  • Giveaway Guidelines - a firm guideline on the contest rules should be stated to eliminate possible cheaters and establish fair selection of winners without disgruntled entrants who did not win, start questioning your method of selection.
  • Demand for a Contact Person - It is ALWAYS sensible to have one human point of contact rather than a generic "XYZ's social media team" before agreeing to do the giveaway. When things go wrong, you at least know "someone" within the "team" to escalate the issues to - hoping of course, this person is also reliable. Better than nothing though.
  • Signed Agreement -  If you think fit, drew up your own simple but concise agreement that states what is expected between you and responsible party. This is beneficial especially with companies you're working with for the first time. You can further protect yourself by including a "Failure to Comply" fee to compensate for your time and effort put into hosting a giveaway in their behalf, alongside covering the cost of the prize if you opt to personally send unreceived prize because you value your integrity and they don't. You can use echosign to get signatures done digitally.
  • Share your Experience - Forewarn peers to ensure they don't encounter the same pitfall with brands whose social media etiquettes are not reputable. You're not only protecting yourself but others as well. Brands like these don't have the right to waste anyone else's time and effort and jeopardize their integrity just because they think they can. We don't deserve that!
  • Forward All Emails - To ensure that giveaway winner is in the loop and knows that you're doing all the best you can to resolve an issue with giveaway sponsor, take the initiative to forward email transactions you have with sponsor to affected winner. If winner chooses, give them full access to personally contact sponsor.
  • Blog about it - If the situation is so bad that the whole world needs to know. It is your right to reveal the guilty party. Ensuring that of course, you do it objectively. 
If you are a blogger/Reviewer with similar experience, I would love to hear your story and know what you did about it. Will you work with the same brand again? Share your story. You may just be saving someone from a possible disaster!

Note: Wonky Tonky Company is not the real name for this company but this company is very real. Just as real as this horrific experience I had with them.

Link your Giveaway Nightmares, Horror or even ridiculously comedic stories here and inform others:

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  1. Yep, I've been there. Only one time in my 14 months of being a review blogger. However, with the one company who did do this to me I would never consider workign with them again. I blogged about my experience as well. I also went back to the review I had written and deleted all of the 'review' text and said 'This blog post used to be a review and giveaway of wild texas wear. The review was honest and Ie njoyed their clothes. However, their customer service is horrendous, you can read more about that here.' and then linked to my new blog post about them.

    I thought that now if anyone searches for 'wild texas wear review' they'll get the chance to read about my horrible experience and save themselves some stress.


  2. I have had a couple of companies forget or never get my email but as far as I know they have always followed up. I actually have one company that I've been waiting on to send the product. It's hard because you hold up your end of the agreement but when they don't it makes you look bad. Love your disclosure thought I'm going to add that to the end of my giveaways!

  3. This happens very often! It makes me wonder why they would ask to be featured and then never send the prize. Very bad PR.. is that really worth it for them? Word of mouth gets very far on the internet.

  4. Thank you SO Much! This was very enlightening, especially as a newbie to the review/giveaway world. I stumbled this post, too! :-)

  5. Great Advice - I do alot of give-aways but I'm always on the giving end rather than the blogging end of it. I would never do that to someone who reviewed my product. Keep up the greta blogging xo

    Stay Calm Cupcake Shop

  6. What a nightmare! I'm so sorry you've been dealing with this!

  7. This is an excellent reminder -- thank you!

  8. I've just started doing giveaways on my blog and I totally appreciate your advice. I'm going to do a disclaimer on my future giveaways! Although I have to say, I never really understood why entrants would get so hostile toward bloggers over this type of stuff--I've had a few giveaways where the prize fell through, but I know it's not the blogger's fault when that happens. I'll email a few times, but after that, I usually just write it off.

  9. I enter so many giveaways from blog to blog And sometimes when I "win"...the very same thing happens to me! No response from the sponsor...no prize and only worry, worry, worry!! (It truly does help when blog owners are in contact) I think it is very important for every person who wishes to enter to understand that sometimes SPONSORS are at fault. NOT the blog OWNER!

    I think you handled this situation as best as you could...even on a vacation~
    So Blacklist that Wacky Tonky! haha:: Now the word is out :)

  10. I have yet to have this happen but it's always a worry when I run a giveaway. I love the idea of a disclosure. I'll definitely be implementing that!

  11. I've had this happen to me one time, where I had chosen 6 winners for a giveaway. I tried everything under the sun to get them to respond. Finally one of the winners took to their own and emailed the company. That person CC'ed the email to all the winners as well. THAT got the company's attention. Needless to say, I don't be working with that company again.


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