Friday, 5 June 2020

A funny old game

I suck at football. I suck in so many ways, you can’t even count them - and believe me, people have tried. I suck so bad, I even suck at spectating. But that’s OK - my son thinks I’m Maradona on the field, but then he’s six, and I can still dispossess him without resorting to (excessive) barging.

The sorry thing is, I do like football. I’m just not built for it. Heck, I’m not even built for football apparel - the recent developments vis-à-vis slim-fit shirts has not combined well with recent developments vis-à-vis this man’s middle-age midriff, and it’s only due to the stress of lockdown that I’ve dropped enough timber to get back into the last top I won.

All that, however, is by the by. A few weeks back, Sure was encouraging Joe Public to show off their lockdown football skills by chipping a ball into some household receptacle or another. The prize was a Chelsea shirt signed by the first XI - and in case you’re not into the whole beautiful game thing, that’s damn sweet.

As it happens, refining one’s skills is only half the task - finding a suitable pitch and camera angle in your average terraced house is easier said than done - especially for someone like me who is as likely to smack the ball into their phone as the laundry basket.

Nevertheless, I set the stage and scored the shot. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but as any striker will tell you, they all count. And count it did - out of a field of less than a dozen, my silly shot was apparently judged to be the best. For the first time in my life, my soccer skills had netted a win, and the second-born was once more in awe of his old man’s flair play.

So far, so excellent, but I’d scarcely had time for a celebratory cup of tea and a sit-down when Pukka Pies launched a similar lockdown soccer comp. Normally, of course, I am awful at recycling my endeavours - not least because my filing technique is so poor. On this occasion, however, I barely had to scroll through my phone to find the right clip. Fate or blind luck, I’ll let you be the judge, suffice to say that barely a handful of people fulfilled the entry criteria for this one either, and thanks to my action replay I poked a second one into the onion bag.

The short man was again delighted - not just because it’s great to have such a winner as a dad (I know, I know) - but also because we got a brand-spanking football and fridge full of pie. There was also the matter of the apron and water bottle, but since they were neither pie nor football, they passed him by.

What also passed him by were the takeaways from this performance - so in true pundit style, here they are:

  • If the opposition don’t turn up, the game’s yours for the taking.
  • If you’ve got something in the locker - use it.
  • Football’s a game of two halves, but there’s nothing to stop them being identical.
    (Which is another way of saying the previous point)
  • Goals win games.
    (Which is another way of saying the bleeding obvious)
  • Oh, and always give 110%
    (Which is another way of saying complete nonsense)

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Prize unboxing May 2020

Yep, it's been a while. What can I say - I dipped out ... but then I dipped in again! Please excuse my, erm, deliberate error towards the end - the Walker's-Pepsi promotion is of course Perfect Match, not Match and Win ... oops!

Be lucky!

Friday, 28 February 2020

Prize unboxing February 2020

It's back! Yes, I know I haven't done an unboxing for a few months, but things have been quiet, and who wants to watch tumbleweed, right? This month has been a much better ride on the win wagon - in addition to the prizes herein, I've also had a win on the Malteaser bunny Daring Days Out comp.

I also want to give a special shout out to two of my local comping buddies who have been entering the Cadbury's Premier League comp on behalf of my lad, with the result that Davina has won him a MASSIVE heap of stickers, and Oriana is sending me to watch Norwich v Everton in a few weeks time - THANK YOU SO MUCH!

But enough chat - enjoy the video ... and be lucky!

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Stick it to the man

In January, I mostly won stickers. Actually, I only won stickers. Hundreds of them. More than I’ve bought in my entire life. In itself, that’s hardly surprising - I’ve never been a completist: I got two-thirds of the way through my ET album, one-third through my Return of the Jedi album, and no more than a dozen stickers into any of the Smash Hits albums. That’s the trouble when you’re too tight to pay out - the desire for closure doesn’t so much fade as surrender to the economic imperative.

My first-born is currently hovering around this point. He was all into his Norwich City album while people were gifting him stickers, but nothing on God's earth was going to make him lift a finger to earn the money for more.

The younger one, however, enjoys greater indulgence - to which end, this season alone has brought him not only Norwich City stickers, but also Match Attax Champions League cards, Panini Premier League cards and Panini FIFA365 cards, all of which he files carefully according to no system whatsoever, all over his floor.
100 packets of Panini stickers: more than any rational human would ever need

And yes, to this heap he will shortly be adding the 100 packets of Panini Premier League stickers I won from Cadbury the other night.

This ton-box of stickers is, if you like, the entry-level prize. These boxes are currently retailing on Amazon for upwards of sixty quid and Cadbury is giving away two thousand of them. So, as entry-level prize pools go, this one carries a soupcon more swag than the tsunami of drawstring bags and keyrings that Cadbury has given away on previous occasions.

The next prize tier, naturally, is even grander: the album plus complete set of stickers - in other words, the finished article.

For some people, a prize like this would be off the scale of insane. I, however, am conflicted. I mean, there’s no doubt that these sticker-books are legit rackets - case in point, the last Panini World Cup album would have cost a bare minimum of £109 to complete, assuming you bought 137 packets without a single duplicate, but more likely pushing £400 - and more still if you had no mates to swap with.

And yet! It’s the heat of desire; the thrill of the trades; the satisfaction of completing a page, a team or even an album.

It’s all about the experience.

A completed album, straight off-the-shelf, is an artefact devoid of emotional journey. To be sure, there’s mindfulness to be found in fastening millionaires to boxes, but in terms of experience, it’s like studying the Skywalker family tree before watching Star Wars for the first time.

Comping’s not so different. Yes, the prizes are nice, but sometimes they account for such a small fraction of the experience that you start questioning why you bother. This is why you’ve got to enjoy the ride. As my dad regularly used to say, sometimes it’s better to travel than to arrive.

There are many paths to happiness, and so far in 2020, this one I’ve barely trod. The fact that I’ve still managed to win something, however, is a nice reminder that it’s OK to take it easy. There’ll be plenty more when the time is right.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Comping is DANGEROUS

Last summer, I took a tumble at Go Ape. Had I not won vouchers in the Cadbury’s Freddo comp, I wouldn’t have been there. So, really, I guess, this whole sorry saga starts with Freddo. It’s thanks to Freddo that I upset my pinkie, and it’s thanks to Freddo that random klaxons of pain started tearing though my ribs.

Freddo has a lot to answer for.

Things quietened down over the coming months, however, and by December the pain train was paying only irregular visits. That is, until we reached peak advent.

You see, looking down, aggravates the old war wound. And using your phone for a couple of thousand Instagram comps involves a lot of looking down.

Next week, I’m going to the physio.

Don’t mug yourself people: comping’s not for fair-weather players. It’s an extreme sport, NO LIE.

Take it easy.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2019: A year in numbers

1017: Estimated prize value (£). What a difference a year makes: 2018 was my most successful year by some margin; 2019, the least. There are reasons for this, of course - building works, for example, are always highly disruptive - but the main issue was a lack of focus. The year didn’t start well and I ended up taking my foot off the pedal. In fact, the only reason my score tipped over a grand was due to an administrative error in my favour. That’s not to say I had a bad year - how can something be bad when you’re enjoying yourself?!

300: Highest-value prize (£). Prize of the year has to be my PS4. A quick look online suggests that I’ve over-valued it here, but prices have a tendency to yo-yo, and I’m pretty sure Amazon was listing the bundle at £300 when I got the winning notification. RRP is just a number - what counts is the quality time I plan to have with this little sucker!

70: Value of vouchers won (£). Amazon (£50); bar tab (£20). Just as that Amazon voucher eased the pain of Christmas shopping, that bar tab is going to ease the pain of Christmas school holidays…

39: Number of wins. Not even a win a week - must do better!

18: Number of Instagram wins. While Insta is still my most fertile source of wins, the luck is drying up. The problem isn’t fewer comps - if anything, that number is on the rise. The real problem is the number of entries. Note: that’s not necessarily the same as the number of entrants, although I suspect this number is on the rise too; rather, it’s the number of comps permitting unlimited entries. Sure, I might chuck in a token tag for a bottle of scotch, but some people are tagging twenty friends for a share-bag of lentils, and that makes no sense at all.

15: Cash won (£). 15. Blew it all on my Mastercard bill.

4: T-shirts. I’ve outgrown the best one too. Lay off the pies, Neill!

3.3: Prizes still to arrive. To be fair, one of these prizes was a Christmas Day win (a Shreddies stormtrooper cereal bowl - woo!), so it’s unrealistic to expect that to have arrived already. By contrast, my box of Walker’s Crisps and Cadbury’s beanie are, for shame, overdue, but the fulfilment logistics for huge giveaways seldom run smoothly, so I’ll worry about those when I get round to it. As for that errant one-third of a prize, well, I guess we’ll see what we’ll see…

1: Comping son. It took a whole bunch of nagging to get him to knuckle down, but no one unboxes like my second-born!

How did your year go? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

The wider world in 2019

After the bedlam of the advent season, I enjoy the relative calm of January, when the promotional calendar doesn’t so much expire as get a bit of a stitch, and anyone who wants to beg off for a month doesn’t really have to worry about missing out, because the big prizes are done for the next few weeks, right?

Well, that would normally be the case, but this year was different. This was the year that a non-conventional promoter disrupted things by promising to make one hundred retweeters into yen millionaires. OK, so a million yen is a fraction as exciting as a million dollars (less than one-hundredth, if we’re splitting hairs), but it’s a sweet prize pool by any measure. Shame the odds didn’t work out so well - the original tweet hit 4.5 million retweets, making it the most retweeted tweet ever.

Still, with odds like that, no one really expects to win, so no one’s really disappointed. It’s not like being told you’ve won a VIP trip for two to attend the Champions League Final, only to find the promoter has inadvertently told every man and his dog that they’re winners too. As Zavvi will testify, mistakes happen. 

In their defence, Zavvi did at least want someone to win their comp. Contrast this with Numatic, who ran a comp soliciting selfies from anyone attending Glastonbury with their Henry vacuum cleaner. Number of entries meeting the entry criteria: nil. That I won some colouring books for my ostentatiously Photoshopped effort was a complete bonus as I’d have been hard-pushed to find a legitimate use for a two-metre FloMax hose, crevice tool and tapered adaptor.

When bad photoshopping wins also-ran prizes

Of course, where there’s yin there’s yang. While one company is rolling out comps with nigh-impossible entry criteria, another is making ones so easy a baby could win. At least, that’s what one Edmonton couple found when they left their toddler unattended with the TV remote and ended up with an expenses-paid holiday to Tokyo. Fat chance me enjoying similar luck - last time I left children in the same room as my consumer durables, their primal grunting landed me with an Amazon Prime account.

Finally then, let me leave you with 10,000 reminders about the importance of reading the terms and conditions. Most people wouldn’t expect to find a competition embedded in the small print of their travel insurance, but that’s exactly what one woman found, back in March, and she ended up $10,000 richer. Will this encourage me to study my documents more carefully next time I buy insurance? Absolutely. Will I read the Apple media terms and conditions next time I update iTunes? Are you insane?!

If I’ve missed any of this year’s big stories, do let me know in the comments below! Hope you had a lucky one!