Geraldine Gibson's Story
My first win was a Moulinex food mixer, a slogan win from a Sucron on-pack competition, and this gave my confidence a real boost. More worthwhile prizes slowly arrived – a BUPA Health Screening (still A1 fifteen years later!) the cost of my Electrolux vacuum cleaner refunded with an order of merit comp, and a very welcome £1,000 of shopping vouchers just in time for Christmas from the local paper in 1993. However, I really hit the big time the next year with a win of a top of the range cooker from Good Housekeeping magazine and a Florida holiday from Marks & Spencer, both slogan wins. Well, we couldn’t believe it at first, and our doubts continued when in spite of lots of communication with the promoter the tickets hadn’t arrived 24 hours before we were due to fly! However, they saved the day by sending them up with a motorcycle courier all the way from London to Newcastle, poor chap was shattered when he arrived!
Next I achieved one of every comper’s favourite prizes, a trolley dash. This was a slogan competition at the Co-op. If you’ve been lucky enough to see Julianne Moore in the ‘Prize Winner of Defiance’ film, it was JUST like that. I was allowed £500 of goods in three minutes. Well, you think you’ve got it sussed, you plan your route, but when that whistle blows sense goes out of the window! I had to do the dash before the store opened and the manager and staff were all lined up to watch. I managed to scoop about £300 of goods myself, some helpful assistants added another £100 worth and then after it was totalled up the lovely manager took me to the electrical section to choose another £100 of goods to make up the total. They even provided a van and driver to take us and the goods home! Sadly that Co-Op store closed down a year or so later, hope it wasn’t the drain on the profits I caused!
Holiday wins continued thick and fast over the next few years – a luxury London break, a week in New York, three more holidays to Florida, three health farm breaks, a holiday to Corsica, a week in San Francisco, a cooking holiday to Italy and a week in Iceland, to name but a few! My biggest thrill, however, was achieving a lifetime ambition to travel right across the USA, and I did this in 1999 with a travel vouchers win from Gordon’s Gin at the Co-op. We started in New York and finished in Los Angeles, taking in Niagara, Boston, Chicago, Denver (travelling on the wonderful Amtrak railway for this part, an experience in itself) then on to Salt Lake City in Utah, down the Rockies through the National Park to the Grand Canyon, not forgetting of course a few days in Las Vegas before our final destination, Los Angeles. I now have memories I will NEVER forget. The kids have also benefited many times along the way. My three now grown up sons had some brilliant holidays, not to mention the latest computer gadgets as they appeared, music systems, a trip to Tennessee with Jack Daniels, Live 8 concert trip, a week in Egypt with Tesco soup, another New York trip with a friend and designer clothes. Now prizes like DIY are welcome, - one’s just bought his first house!
However, my biggest wins must be the FIVE cars I’ve won over the years, yes you read that right – FIVE! Three Smart cars (Jaffa oranges, Energizer batteries, Marks & Spencer furniture) a Ford Focus with Walkers crisps and a Vauxhall Astra with Curry’s digital radios, all slogan wins. So keep at it, it IS possible! You never know when one day that phone will ring and someone on the other end says, “CONGRATULATIONS!” But we all know that slogan competitons are becoming harder to win for a variety of reasons, - more entrants, fewer comps, sometimes a bit of a wayward ‘judging’ – well that’s MY theory. So to keep up with the times, I now do lots of comps on the internet and a few by text. I don’t go mad with the text comps, just the one phone call usually and a couple of standard rate entries per week, but I’ve had some decent wins. I stop once I’ve won though, no sense in being greedy, there are only so many wind-up radios you can use! I managed a £500 win each time with the Nutrigrain comps, three Nintendo consoles from Fanta – not intentional, all awarded late in the competition – and just lately, some trainers from Lucozade.
The best source of free comps is, of course, the internet, and I just scooped my big prize target for this year, a massive HD ready plasma TV from an internet draw, worth over £900. So all that clicking is worth it if you can find the time. My tip is to use an automatic form filler like Roboform or Google’s Autofill, it saves time and your temper! Another tip is to sign up for the newsletter options when you enter a comp, as long as you can be prepared to spend some time each day going through them and deleting when read. There are nearly always comps hidden in the newsletters which don’t appear on the main sites.
And that brings me to my last few weeks. A year’s supply of cheese, a £100 Red Letter Day, £250 cash, a luxury weekend in Leeds with £300 spends, £300 of DIY vouchers and £250 of wood panelling, all in the space of three weeks.