Saturday, September 20. 2008
Monday, September 15. 2008
Answer: I know that one of the sweepstakes I've featured in the past few days had specifically addressed this question. However, now I can't remember which one it was! Its official rules stated that the postmark date would be considered the date of entry for mail-in entries. While I can't state this as a fact, I am sure it is the unspoken assumption in other sweepstakes with "one entry per day regardless of method of entry" restrictions.
I won a sweep several years ago and asked a question similar to this to the woman who notified me of my win. I learned that they kept a database of all entries submitted to them, containing both online and mail-in entries, which contained a total count of all entries from each person. If a person's total count exceeded the number of days the promotion was active, that person was not eligible to win prizes. This is how they enforced the "one entry per day" rule. I learned two things from this:
- It's probably not worth it to send your entries in fancy or decorated envelopes. If all judging agencies are conducting drawings like this, it means your mail-in entry is being opened, the envelope is being discarded, and your entry details are either being scanned, or processed by a data entry clerk. The drawing is all electronic, and your envelope's texture or appearance won't help you win.
- You'll be easily found out if you are entering both online and through the mail in the same day, if the sweeps administrator does things this way, so don't be tempted to cheat.
Saturday, August 30. 2008
Friday, May 9. 2008
In the meantime, I am here to give you your 2-minute warning. Saturday is the last day you can mail with 41-cent stamps! Well, that's only half-true. Beginning on Monday, first-class postage will be 42 cents. Your 41-cent stamps will need a little 1-cent stamp beside it to keep your mail from being sent back to you.
I suggest you take inventory and see how many 41-cent and 26-cent stamps you have lying around. (Postcard postage also increases to 27 cents on Monday.) Then subtract out how many you think you'll use today and tomorrow. The result is the number of 1-cent stamps you'll need to buy from your local post office. There's a good chance your local post office has already experienced a run on 1-cent stamps and may not have any for you today. But, you will at least know how many you will need to get when they're back in stock.
You should still try visiting your local post office today or tomorrow and buying as many forever stamps as you can. They cost only 41 cents today and tomorrow, and can be used as 42-cent postage stamps Monday and onwards. As a courtesy to the other sweepers in your local area, don't clean out their entire supply of forever stamps. Leave a few for others to buy.
Thursday, February 14. 2008
Maybe this has been brought up before, but some sweepstakes are still requesting that we enter by mailing 3" by 5" cards, without envelopes, many years after the US Post Office changed their minimum size rules. The minimum size that the US Post Office is required to deliver is 3 1/2" by 5". Anything smaller, and they can just throw it away!
You can read the Post Office rules for yourself on this site: http://www.usps.com/send/preparemailandpackages/measuringtips.htm.
3" by 5" cards are OK for inserting in emvelopes, but don't make the mistake of putting a stamp on one and mailing it. It might never get there!
I have contacted several sweeps sponsors in the past to let them know their mistake, and some have changed the rules to read 3 1/2" by 5" card.
These are the rules of thumb I've always lived by:
- If a sweepstakes asks you to mail in a 3" x 5" postcard, I assume they want you to mail in pre-stamped postcards, usually available in your local post office's vending machine. And I'm further assuming that the sweepstakes sponsor believes those postcards are 3" x 5" in size, when really they are 3.5" x 5" in size.
- If a sweepstakes asks you to mail in a 3" x 5" card, they usually make it clear you should mail those cards in an envelope. When the standard wording isn't there ("mail in an envelope to"), I assume they again want pre-stamped post-office postcards, and that they have a bad assumption as to the size of those postcards.
- If a sweepstakes asks you to mail in a 3.5" x 5" card, and lacks any wording about mailing it in an envelope, I again assume they want a pre-stamped post-office postcard. (And you know, I'm perfectly fine with that. Postcard stamps are cheaper than first-class stamps.)
So how far off are my rules-of-thumb from yours?
Tonight's Gamestop.com snail sweep actually literally states this in its official rules: "print your information on a 3x5 postcard". In my writeup I actually wrote you should mail in 3.5" x 5" postcards instead. I'm sure many of you probably wouldn't have even noticed the difference. But I'm pointing this out in case you look at the Gamestop.com official sweepstakes rules and see that my write-up doesn't match. It's because I don't want your 3" x 5" postcards to be returned back to you, or worse, thrown out by the post office without you ever knowing it.
Wednesday, February 13. 2008
Ack! Here's a summary of what sweepers need to know:
- First class stamps will go up to 42 cents on 5/12/08.
- Postcard stamps will be raised to 27 cents.
- First class stamps to mail to Canadian sweeps will rise to 72 cents.
- Forever stamps that you have purchased for 41 cents can still be used, without make-up stamps, after 5/12/08
Rates for Priority Mail and other shipping options will be raised, too, but they have not announced the new prices yet.
The last paragraph of this article states that the post office will now be adjusting their mailing rates in May every year, with notification of the new rates being announced 90 days in advance. Expect yearly increases in stamp prices from now on.
So what should we take away from this?
- If you have both forever stamps and 41-cent imprinted stamps in your desk, hold on to your forever stamps. Use up your supply of 41-cent stamps now. Any forever stamps you have now will be more valuable to you come 5/12/08.
- If you have more 41-cent stamps than what you think you'll be able to use before 5/12/08, get yourself some 1-cent stamps the next time you're in the post office. In mid-May, once everyone else realizes they need 1-cent stamps, there's likely to be a shortage.
- If you are like me and like to buy a lot of stamps at once, so you don't have to worry about running out, stop doing that. Adjust your stamp shopping to buy only what you think you'll need for another 3 months.
- If you prefer to buy commemorative stamps, like I do, because they're prettier, you may want to stop doing that, or at least cut back. It is now more wise for your pocketbook to buy as many forever stamps as you can.
I hope I didn't ruin your day too much.
Wednesday, October 31. 2007
SASE - Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope
SASEs are used in promotions where you need a game piece or a unique code to participate. To enter into these kinds of sweepstakes without purchase, you'll need to address an envelope to yourself: (I'm assuming in these pictures your name is Martha Washington and your neighbors are The Simpsons)
Then fold it into thirds and attach a 41-cent stamp:
And mail your folded SASE in another envelope to the sponsor's mailing address given in the official rules. The sweepstakes sponsor will mail a free game piece or code back to you in the envelope you provide.
There are pros and cons to these types of promotions:
Con: You need to pay 82 cents - the price of two postage stamps - for each of your game plays.
Pros: A lot of the time, 82 cents is cheaper than what you'd pay to purchase the product or service and receive that game piece. Plus, since this seems complicated, a lot of people don't take advantage of this, and the field of competition is greatly reduced. I am not guaranteeing that you can win a prize this way, but I will say that your odds of winning are greater than in a sweepstakes where all you need to do is type your e-mail address on a web site.