Do You Care What People Think Of Your Sweepstakes Hobby?

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The word seems to be spreading “out there” that most sweepstakes and contests are legitimate and not “a scam” as generally believed years ago. Blame the popularity of social media for this. It seems that every large company has a fan page and is running a sweepstakes these days. When you see brand name companies running giveaways, it’s pretty obvious they’re trying to give away prizes and not scam the public.

Recent statistics show that about 1/3 of Internet users have entered an online sweepstakes, and about half make entering a regular pastime. What a change from just a few years ago, when about 22% of Internet users entered to win something. I believe the bad economy has also played a part in this, as people are looking for alternative income sources from home.

Still, many people don’t like and don’t trust sweepstakes, and will tell you about it. This kind of feedback often comes from the older generation that may not be familiar with large company giveaways. “There’s no free lunch” is a maxim they still live by. In my case, my mother was constantly worried that I spent too much time entering sweepstakes, and couldn’t believe it was for real. When the wins came, especially big ones, there was a lot of “shock and awe” on her end.

If the negativity sounds like your old uncle or your grandma, how should you respond? If you’re wondering what to say, here are suggestions on how to respond people’s comments that sweepstakes are a scam or a waste of time:

Tell them that sweepstakes and contests are regulated by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), a government office that protects consumers. There are clear and explicit rules companies running giveaways must abide by. Violation of these rules is punishable by a fine. For one thing, it’s illegal to charge anyone to enter a sweepstakes or to receive their prize or to force anyone to make a purchase to enter. Entry must be 100% free. There are also state laws that protect consumers against possible shady operators. Charging for chances to win is strictly the reserve of government lotteries. Also, federally-recognized charities are allowed to charge for chances to win, in the form of raffles. That’s all.

Many of the world’s biggest companies run regular sweepstakes. How could even the most skeptical and suspicious believe that Coca-Cola, Disney, the Ford Motor Company and Microsoft (as just a few examples) would run a two-bit online scam to rip off the public? Most of the world’s largest consumer brands run sweepstakes and contests because they know that giveaways are an efficient and thrifty way to promote their products and their brand.

The number of people entering sweepstakes has increased from hundreds of thousands to millions. How can so many millions of consumers be wrong? Billions of dollars in cash and prizes have been awarded, so obviously there is a free lunch for some of us who know how to win these games. If you’re still being hassled about it, you could show off what you won.

There are also some people who don’t believe that entering sweepstakes and contests is a worthwhile pursuit, and look down on entering giveaways as beneath them. They’re either too rich or too good to enter for free stuff. This is the kind of person that cannot be talked out of their belief system. Just ignore them, and enjoy your wins.

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