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Guide to Confusing Sweepstakes Rules

Understand What Sweepstakes Rules Really Mean

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Have you ever read through a sweepstake's rules and wondered what on earth they were talking about? Sweepstakes rules are often long, and parts of them can be confusing, but it's very important you read the sweepstakes rules before you enter. Here are explanations for the most confusing rules commonly found in giveaways and contests, to make it easier to ensure that you do not accidentally disqualify yourself.

1. Continental vs. Contiguous United States

Entry is open to residents of the contiguous United States aged 18+.
Many sweepstakes will restrict entry to people who live in the continental United States, or the contiguous United States. The continental U.S. includes all states on the North American continent - in short, every state but Hawaii. 'Contiguous' means 'touching,' and includes all of the states other than Alaska and Hawaii.

2. In Case of Dispute

In case of a dispute as to the identity of an entrant using the Internet, the authorized account holder of the email address used to enter the Promotion at the time of entry will be considered the entrant.

It is difficult to prove who really entered an online sweepstakes, so when disagreements occur, the sponsors rely on the information that is possible to substantiate - who owns the email address. If you use someone else's email address to enter, they can legitimately demand that the sponsor award them the prizes. It's best to enter using only your own email address.

3. Your Entry May Not Be Received

Sponsors are not responsible for any problems with your entry, including technical failures related to computer, telephone, cable, and unavailable network or server connections, or other failures related to hardware, software or virus, or incomplete, late or misdirected entries.
Computers are notoriously unreliable, especially when it comes to internet transmission. If you think you've sent a sweepstakes entry, but a computer crash, database mistake, or internet outage causes it to not be received, you cannot hold the sponsor legally responsible.

4. Your Name in Lights

Acceptance of a prize constitutes the winner's consent to the use of his/her voice, name, likeness, biographical information and/or photograph by Sponsor for promotional or advertising purposes in connection with the Promotion.

Sponsors run sweepstakes for the publicity, and part of the publicity is to be able to announce the winner, and perhaps even feature photographs and other information on their websites, magazines, newsletters, and so on. By accepting the prize, you agree to let the sponsors use your name and likeness.

5. You Can Be Disqualified

Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the operation or conduct of the Promotion, including, without limitation, the entry process or the operation of the web site or otherwise violating these rules.

Simply put, this pretty much means you can be disqualified at any time, for any reason, without warning. Most sweepstakes include this catch-all phrase.

6. The Sweepstakes Can be Canceled

Sponsor reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify the Promotion if it cannot be operated, conducted or completed as planned, for any reason.

If something goes wrong that the sponsor did not anticipate - for example, the sweepstakes database is hacked and the information is irrevocably lost - then the sponsor can change the rules or cancel the giveaway without liability.

7. Prizes May Be Substituted

Prizes listed may be substituted for other first prizes of equal value, based on availability.

If the sponsor has difficulty fulfilling a prize, another prize of equal or greater value can be substituted. For example, if the sponsor promises a $100 gift card to a store which goes out of business before the end of the promotion, $100 of other prizes may be offered instead.

Are You Stumped by Sweepstakes Rules?

If you've come across some sweepstakes rules you don't understand, pipe up! Ask about them in the Contests and Sweepstakes Forum.

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