A DOORMAT was delivered to my home last week. Not just any old doormat, but a fabulous, colourful, flowery doormat, created by the Irish designer Orla Keily.
So why am I so excited about a doormat? Because I won it. I answered a few questions in an online survey and — amazingly — was notified by email that I was among the winners.
I rarely win anything. Time after time I’ve sat in church halls and community centres clutching strips of raffle tickets, grumbling as people on either side of me leap up to bag wine, chocolates and knitted dolls.
I sit in hope right until the end, when the only things left are shabby-looking boxes of soap and fraying lavender bags that I wouldn’t want.
It’s the same with those contests offering up numbers on the sides of cereal boxes and jars of coffee, that you need to key in online. Occasionally, if I can be bothered, I’ll tear off the wrapper, look up the website and enter. The result is always the same: ‘Sorry, you’re not a winner’.
Once, encouraged by my daughter, I entered the X Factor competition. Having drunk a glass of wine or two, I was swayed by images of glittering cityscapes and shimmering beaches. It probably cost me a fiver to enter by text and, predictably, I didn’t hear back.
Competitions are so difficult to win that I was surprised to learn that, as a result of the household squeeze and rising cost of living, more people are entering them.
Research has shown a marked rise in the number of professional ‘compers’, entering multiple ‘text to win’ promotions. I’d have thought this was money down the drain, or maybe it’s just that I’m unlucky.
Some people are setting up comper syndicates, sharing entry forms and group buying promotional packs. I tried joining others, but years in a lottery syndicate brought in no more than £50, although we once bagged a life-changing £29 for four numbers.
The problem is that most competitions demand no skills. It’s all about texting or clicking away on websites, and the winners are randomly selected with huge odds against being successful.
It’s surely better to enter contests asking you to think up catchy slogans or design new packaging. In fact, I once won a small bouncy castle for thinking up a slogan for Mr Kipling cakes. It wasn’t the main prize, but I was chuffed.
As I write I’ve entered another competition — a Tetley tea thing on the internet with the top prize £1,000.
Needless to say I didn’t get the result I wanted, but I enjoyed a nice cup of tea to drown my sorrows.