Posts Tagged With: sweeps

Losing Favor Over a Promotional Sweepstakes

When I am asked what I write about in my blog, I have usually listed politics, religion, social issues, travel, and whatever is on my mind. Now I have had over 50,000 Let's Let Al Unser, Sr. Answer Thatpeople view my posts here, I see the posts that are about businesses or services that I have written about are just as popular. So now I add consumer advocacy to my list of topics. This post describes how a product/business that I liked A LOT has lost favor with me over a sweepstakes. There was a time that entering my sweepstakes was an easy and pleasant way to pass my time whether I am down because of my Multiple Sclerosis or just passing some time with the hopes I could win something. Winning “The Fastest Seat In Sports” sweepstakes from http://www.shophonda.com last year was a highlight that has kept me motivated to keep entering sweeps. But now I know that little thought is put into how some sweepstakes are set up and designed. It makes me wonder, have sweepstakes designers ever consulted with a “sweeper” (a name I call people like me that enter lots of sweepstakes) about the sweeps they are designing?

An example of a poorly designed sweeps and prize, I highlight the “Take Off With Biscoff” sweepstakes (http://takeoff.votigo.com/takeoff). This is a sweeps that checks off Biscoff Sweepsmany of my bad sweeps pet peeves. Peeve 1 – Making it seem simple, but it is not! It says, “You can WIN A TRIP by Biscoff Photo Rulesuploading a photo. Tell us how Biscoff Cookies – The Airline Cookie – elevates your day! Upload a photo showing how you enjoy Biscoff Cookies, for a chance to win a Trip for two to Europe and more prizes“. This seems simple enough… but check out the photo of the entry requirements for the photo – WAY too many to mention! All of this just to enter. Yes it is best to “study” ALL of the rules so you can enjoy their promotion!  lol

Peeve 2 – “Public  voting”. After someone jumps the hoop to get entered… then you only think Biscoff Determinationyou are at the mercy of the public to vote if your entry even makes the gallery. Then it is only a competition for people who have skills that make their entry more interesting than the others, not something most will, can, or have time to do for ONLY A CHANCE to win a prize. But guess what… even if your entry gets the most “votes” does not mean you win. The public “vote is only 40% of how a winner is determined. The other 60% is from a “Sponsor-selected panel of judges”. I include a photo of how the winner is determined and see if you understand it with a simple reading or do you have to reread and calculate in your head what they are saying!  Study a little more! lol

Peeve 3 – The prize! Yes, I even have issue with the prize. Why would I have issue with the prize? A 3 day/2 night trip to Europe. What do you actually get with this trip? JetlagFirst let’s pretend you are healthy (I have MS and eliminate myself from this scenario), you spend day 1 basically flying to the sponsor determined destination in Europe… that’s right, the sweeps does not even tell you where you are going!  lol Now to me, destination unknown would be fun. But after spending pretty much a day getting there and spending night 1 in bed exhausted and jet-lagged after flying over several time zones, you have day 2 to drag though. So on day 2 of a 3 day trip, you do as much as you can before having to get back to the hotel so you can spend night 2  to get ready for day 3… flying home!  lol Sweepstakes in the US with US destinations that have a 3 day/2 night trips is really silly… so why did anyone think a 3 day/2 night international trip would be a good idea? Sounds penny-pincher to me and we know penny-pincher trips are so much fun!!! So, the only real option for most would be to take the alternate $4,000 gift card – which is what I would HAVE to do.

Now with all the sweeps in enter, why has this one set me off and inspired me to write a post about it? See the vague e-Biscoff Rejectionmail I got after trying to jump their hopes to enter this sweeps! I had posted this photo of clouds out my window flying. DSC00016Even after being rejected and studying the rules again… I do not see any violations of the rules.  I told a sap story of asking for extra Biscoff Cookies from flight attendants so I could share them with my Mom after my flights, Cookies with my Mom elevates my day. There is a very small chance the hashtag  #takeoffwithbiscoff may not have pasted when I copied and pasted it into my comment. But still, and e-mail that does not say what I did wrong does not inspire me to take (waste) the time to try again for a minuscule CHANCE to win a trip that would be challenging at the least for someone with MS. So I chose to take (waste) my time writing this post.

The alternate $4,000 gift card would be life changing for someone in my situation, just as would winning the First Prize of 50,000 Delta SkyMiles would be GREAT. But now, even winning the Second Prize, a years worth of Biscoff Cookies, would only leave a bad taste in my mouth! I see in the gallery of the sweepstakes that many others must have studied the rules better than me and entered successfully and I wish them luck! So if I accomplish anything in a sense of advocacy with this post… it would be that ANY company using sweepstakes consider that you want your sweeps to be simple and FUN and Biscoff Cookies (Lotus Bakeries North America) missed the mark with me on this promotion and caught me in the right mood that rejecting my entry just pissed me off! I think you can also guess that The Biscoff Coffee Corner is off my itinerary during my August trip to San Francisco.

 

Blogging is not free!  Please help cover the costs!

Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  😀

Advertisements
Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Was IN the Fastest Seat in Sports

Me - Al -James

“Little Buddy” James, Me and Al Unser, Sr.

Sometimes my Multiple Sclerosis leaves me confined to bed more often than I like. One way I pass some time while stuck in bed is entering sweepstakes online. I see it as a ePrizeway to entertain myself; while I have no expectations of winning – I do HOPE to win.  Over the couple years I have been doing this, I have won an i-pad, gift cards from Best Buy, Southwest Airlines, and i-tunes; coffee mugs, t-shirts and etc., but nothing of significant value. All of that changed on August 8, 2013, when I got a phone call from Cathy at ePrize explaining I needed to check my e-mail to sign and return the forms to accept my Grand Prize trip in the http://www.shophonda.com “Fastest Seat In Sports” sweepstakes.

Fastest SeatThe grand prize trip to the IZOD IndyCar® Series Grand Prix of Baltimore included: a ride in the IZOD IndyCar® 2-seater driven by an Indy Champion, 2 credentials to the race, 3 days/2 nights accommodations, round trip airfare for 2, a prepaid debit card. That is what was listed as the prize on the site, but the official rules revealed the gift card was $250, and the package additionally included car service, a $500 IZOD gift card and a check to help pay the taxes. The Approximate Retail Value of the prize totaled $5,450! 

My excitement soon began to cloud. Because of my MS, I escape the extremes of the summer and winters in the US and visit Medellin, Colombia – The City of Eternal Spring. Since I was out of the country, I was thinking I would have to forfeit the prize. Since my buddy James lives in Washington D.C., I asked if he was my plus one and only one airplane ticket would be needed, could I fly from Medellin? The price of the ticket was within the budget and I was told that I could travel from Medellin. Furthermore extending the date of the return flight offered a lower fare and would allow me to visit my friend in D.C. longer.

The trip to D.C. began with leaving my apartment at 1:45 am for the 45 minute ride to the airport so I would arrive 3 hours early for my international flight. Copa Airlines did not have agents available for us to check-in until 2 hours before the flight and they began by explaining the 5:22 Copaam flight was canceled and I would be on the 7:00 am flight to Panama and would only have a 30 minute connect time (strike 1). Remember, I have Multiple Sclerosis and move slow? Well, my moving slow was no issue because when I arrived at gate 5 in Panama, we were told there was a gate change to gate 29 – on the other side of the airport (strike 2). Once I arrived at gate 29, I learned we had to go through security at the gate, as in they opened our bags and used the security wand on each passenger AT THE GATE (strike 3). Guess what? Our gate was changed AGAIN to gate 33 and here we had to go through security AGAIN AT THE GATE (strike 4)! How our flight was only delayed a little more than an hour is a mystery. This was a HORRIBLE first impression of Copa Air. For the canceled flight I was given a $100 flight voucher (forgiving 1 strike), but for the chaos in Panama – nothing (still leaving 3 strikes – they are out)! I doubt that voucher gets used because I doubt I will give Copa Airlines another chance. Thank goodness I arrived a day early so I had the opportunity to rest take it easy and have a simple dinner at my friend James’ house.

MarriotAugust 31, we drove over to Baltimore and checked in at the Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown/Inner Harbor where we were told, “Your room is already paid for and we just need a credit card forCredentials incidentals.” James and I dropped off our luggage and headed to pick up our credentials. The young lady that gave our race credentials informed us our credentials had an all important “PC” identifier that gave us access to the Paddock Club. Wanting a beer… we began our mission to find the Paddock Club. We began this search at the Paddock… that seemed logical! (lol) We flashed our “PC” badges and entered the “Andretti Club” since that DSC_0149was the only “club” we found at the Paddock and we were VIPS (lol). It turns out when we reached for a beer, we were told our badges were NOT for the Andretti Club and as we were “walked out”, the polite lady got on the radio and gave us directions to the area the Paddock Club was located – in the Camden Yards parking lot (home field of the Baltimore Orioles). We eventually found we had access to the official Indy Team VIP tent! (yay) After a couple beers we checked out some of the American Le Mans Series, searched for earplugs and went to dinner before calling an end to day one.

DSC_0153Race day began with meeting Donny, the sweepstakes host. This is when I learned that not only would I ride in an IndyCar… I would be riding in the STARTING CAR with 4 time Indianapolis 500 Champ Al Unser Sr. as my driver! Off I went to the IZOD Indycar® 2 seater trailer to get suited up in a FIRE SUIT. This is when I met Al Unser Sr. in person and he could not have been more down to earth and friendly. I kept using Mr. Al when he looked at me and said, “Just call me AL” and I DSC_0175wondered in my mind if he would call me Betty. (watch this if you do not get that joke: http://youtu.be/uq-gYOrU8bA ) Before following Al  across the IndyCar Stage where we were announced as lead car for the race, I was standing with a lot of the drivers just chit chatting. Marco Andretti, Scott Dixion were 2 drivers DSC_0182I recognized and Marco stole my seat next to Al!  (lol) Then we were off to the Pits. DSC_0201This was my first race to attend and not only was I there… I was in the Pits being interviewed by tv cameras, with a Champion! It was as close as I have come to feeling like a celebrity!

DSC_0190Now the time was here – I was climbing into an IndyCar! There was a microphone and earbuds in the helmet so I could hear the NBC Sports broadcast and was told they would interview me during my lap. Let me also tell you, there are a lot of straps that were connected to hold me in that car! (lol) I could hear the noise of the car and the sportscasters in my ears, I was overwhelmed as we took off. The first lap was a modest speed and I was thinking, “Oh, this is cute, to roll around the track in an IndyCar!” After the first lap, Al punched it and I felt Newton’s Law of motion take effect as my head flung back! I became a human Summitbobblehead! At this moment, I heard the NBC sportscaster ask me how was the ride? All I could say at that moment was, “I’m a little frightened right now!” (lol) That was my witty retort! I had planned to say, “It is like riding with my Mother before we took the keys from her and trust me… that is a compliment for a race car driver.”  But no, all I said was I was frightened!  (lol) I really was StartNOT frightened, I was EXCITED and adrenaline had replaced the blood in my head and had taken control of my brain.  Then I saw we were pulling into the Pitstop, just that quick … the ride was over. 

James and I had been given grandstand passes and we sat to watch the race. The experience in the grandstand was anticlimactic. I wanted to stand up and tell everyone, “That was me that was in the lead car!” But I did restrain myself. All weekend I had been telling people I was a sweepstakes winner, I was riding in the lead car for the race and now I could say THAT WAS ME! (lol) One drunk guy in the Paddock seemed TOO excited to meet me, but most humored me – especially James, he is very patient with me! I have to say, it was a GREAT experience and I was very happy my “Little Buddy” James was there with me. If my friend Camilo had a US tourist visa, it would have been him with me. Camilo is a true race fan, James was like me… we knew little and just went with the flow. I do hate Camilo missed out and guess what I heard last night, Camilo got his tourist visa and he told me, “Next sweeps win… I travel as your plus one!” But James is THAT friend who knows how to put up with me in this kind of situation! (lol). James stood patiently by my side through the whole experience and I am sure he still enjoyed it. James gets a jewel in his crown for being such a great support! 

At checkout I learned that the hotel had charged my card for the full stay when all I should have paid was the 2 days of parking. They corrected this, but it did tie up my Marriot HotelsMarriott Frontfunds for more than 3 days since it was a holiday weekend. Even after making this mistake and with the inconvenience it caused… we did not even get a discount on the parking. I am a former Marriott Rewards Platinum member and the fact they did not even acknowledge the inconvenience their error caused was a huge disappointment and now Marriott may join Copa as businesses to avoid when I travel again. 

Astro and White HouseThe next few days I rested in D.C. at James’ house because a weekend like I just had would tire most anyone, but with my MS, I was glad I had a few Astrodays to rest before traveling back to Medellin. I did go into D.C. one day to get doughnuts at my favorite place, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken… an indulgence I always try when in D.C.  I took my White Housedoughnuts and BIG coffee from Au Bon Pain and sat in front of the White House and reflected how surreal my life is at times.

All that was left was getting back to Medellin. I dreaded my flight back on PanamaCopa Airlines, but made the best of it, but nothing special redeemed them and still doubt I fly with them again. With a 6 hour layover in Panama, I took a taxi into Panama City had something to eat and a quick look, but for me the highlight was – I got a new country’s stamp in my passport. 

I have been home more than a week and just now mustered the energy to write about this astonishing experience. I fight my MS that robs me of so much, but even as I slept 12 to 16 hour nights since returning because the trip drained me so, THANKS to James for joining me and being such a great friend, I am so lucky to have a friend like him! I am so thankful to http://www.shophonda.com for granting me this ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME experience! Cathy at ePrize, Jean at Travel By Design and Donny the sweeps host also deserve a BIG THANKS for all their help making this such a great trip and an experience that simple folk like me seldom get to enjoy! My last thank you is to Al Unser, Sr. for simply being such a cool man! In spite of Copa Airlines and Marriott… the trip was a BLAST!

Blogging is not free!  Please help cover the costs!

Once the $150 a year cost is covered – 50% of EVERY donation will be given to a charity (the charity will not be ME)!  😀

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Optimistically Pessimistic or Just a Realist?

For many, they would see that a person is either an optimist or a pessimist but in true fashion, I even complicate these descriptions when I self diagnose.  I see myself as optimistically pessimistic!  What is my rationale?  I enter sweepstakes and buy lotto thinking I have as much a chance to win as anyone else – Optimist.  But I know deep down I my chances to win are very slim – Pessimist.  But the more choice word I guess should be – Realist.  Living with Multiple Sclerosis also feeds this concept. I know I have good days – optimist, I also know that the price of realizing the good days is experiencing the bad ones – pessimist, but I know I have to make the best of THIS day – realist.

Because of my M.S. and spending so much time fatigued and stuck in the bed, I began entering online sweepstakes.  I have won a few nice items: an Apple iPad, a $300 Best Buy Gift card, a $100 Overstock.com Gift card, several iTunes gift cards and a dozen or so smaller prizes.  But as you see, I  have not won a big cash prize, a car, TV, or trip; but I continue entering the sweeps.  I enter the sweeps just to have something to do and on bad days I sometimes do not even enter one.  I win something sometimes – optimist, I do not win enough for the amount I of time I spend entering sweeps – pessimist, I have SOMETHING to do to pass some time – realist.  

My M.S. is like this also, when I have a good day, I tend to do too much and overexert myself.  The good day, I get to have SOME fun – optimist, the bad days I may be in great pain and stuck in bed – pessimist, when I AM stuck in bed I can remember the good days – realist.  A common saying in the M.S. community is, “I have M.S. but M.S. doesn’t have me” – optimistic.  Reality, there are days that my M.S. does have me – pessimistic.  Few people know truly how my M.S. complicates my life.  I try only to let people see the optimistic side, the healthy side of my life I do get to enjoy.  Since I do tend to project the image as someone healthy, I miss out on truly helping others understand the impact M.S. has on my life.

Staying in Medellin, Colombia as much as I do not only helps with my M.S., it also helps me mentally!  Medellin is known as “The City of Eternal Spring”.  The milder climate does help in that I do have fewer relapses and often when I do have a relapse, it may not be as severe.  This is a big plus!  The biggest benefit is that I am able to live independently!  Living totally on my disability income in the U.S. is impossible for me, but here in Medellin, I can afford to have my own apartment and feed myself.  There is little money left for other things, but the advantage of feeling independent out-weighs the disadvantages.  The downside of this independent life means I also have to sacrifice seeing my family because the M.S. limits my traveling and the money for flying is also VERY limiting.

Friends usually see me as complicated and difficult.  They do not realize what I have to do in order to “feel” like meeting for a dinner or beer – it takes careful planning for me!  I once wrote how I feel like Sid the Sloth from the Ice Age movies (https://thomasajohnston.com/2011/03/05/trapped-in-an-ice-age/).  I feel most of my friends simply tolerate me, but like Sid’s herd, my friends do down deep care about me.  I use the expression “Colombian time” in Medellin because Colombians just do not seem too concerned about schedules, appointments and timing.  This complicates my being part of a herd in Colombia because even when I explain how I NEED to keep schedules because of my health issues, the relaxed attitude of Colombians is more important to them than my schedule.  I rest, I medicate based on being somewhere at a certain time and then they see me as inflexible when they say we have changed the plans or times and just think I have the ability to adapt that easily.  Like Sid… I am sometimes abandoned.

Then again, I find it easy to thin my herd or “clean out the friend closet” sometimes!  Some people make it easy!  As I am sure I make it easy for some to reclassify me as a former friend.  I have become a self imposed hermit and actually find I enjoy being alone.  Limiting my time with friends helps me keep friends!  lol  I am very happy for the few friends I do have in my herd – Optimist.  I do wish making new friends was not so difficult for me – Pessimist.  This desire drives me to improve myself and educate even friends of how M.S. keeps me Optimistically Pessimistic or just a realist?

Categories: Colombia, Life, Medellin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.