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How Long Does It Take Prizes to Arrive? What Do I Do When Prizes are Late?

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Waiting for prizes to arrive can test your patience!

Waiting for prizes to arrive can test your patience!

Image © Martin Poole / Getty Images
Question: How Long Does It Take Prizes to Arrive? What Do I Do When Prizes are Late?
I received notification that I won a prize. I returned my affidavit on time, but since then I haven't heard anything from the sponsor. How long does it take to receive my prizes, and what should I do if they don't arrive on time?
Answer:

How Long Does it Take to Receive Sweepstakes Prizes?

It's not uncommon for prizes to take months to arrive after you win. Tommy Rollins, who ran sweepstakes for Circuit City, said that Circuit City used to have all of their prizes boxed and ready to go when the winners were drawn, even before the sweepstakes ended. But not all sweepstakes sponsors are so quick, and some need to rely on other companies to provide the prizes, which can cause additional delays.

How long it takes for sweepstakes prizes to arrive varies from sponsor to sponsor. In order to determine when your prize should arrive, check the sweepstakes rules. If no shipment times are mentioned in the rules, check your win notification.

Some rules will state that the prize will be sent 4 - 6 weeks after the affidavit is returned. Others will say that the prize will be sent 8 - 10 weeks after the sweepstakes ends. If you win close to the beginning of a sweepstakes that runs for months, this can mean a lengthly delay before your prize appears.

I recommend tracking every prize you win, including the date you won and the date you expect the prize to arrive. Calculate the expected arrival date based on the information provided in the rules or in your win notification. This helps you see at a glance which prizes are late arriving, so that you can follow up with the sponsor.

What to Do When Your Sweepstakes Prizes are Late

So when the expected date for your prize to arrive comes and you still don't see a prize, the first thing you should do is... wait a little longer. Yes, it's unfair that you have to be punctual about when you enter and when you return your affidavits, but the sponsor can be late in fulfilling the prize. But sometimes packages get delayed in the mail, or there's a miscommunication, or another delay. I usually wait about a month before following up with the sponsor about my prize.

What to Do When Your Sweepstakes Prizes are Really Late

If you've waited patiently and your prize is still late arriving, the next step is to try to contact the sweepstakes' sponsor.

This can be tricky because the company sponsoring the sweepstakes isn't always the same as the company who handles the prize fulfillment. It's not unusual to contact the main company and have trouble finding anyone who knows anything about the sweepstakes. That doesn't mean that the sweepstakes is not legitimate!

    How to Find a Contact to Ask About Your Sweepstakes Prize:

  • Start with Your Win Notification
    If you received your win notification by email, try sending an email to the address that sent your original mail. If your win notice came in a letter, try writing to the return address. If you receive win notices by telephone, ask for a contact name and telephone number in case you have questions later. You'll then have someone to contact if your prize doesn't arrive.

  • Check the Sweepstakes Rules
    Many times, the sweepstakes rules will include the contact addresses of the company running the sweepstakes or an email address to use for questions. You can send your question to those addresses.

  • Look Up the Sweepstakes' Fulfillment Agency
    Check the sweepstakes' rules to find out what company is "fulfilling" or "administering" the sweepstakes. Then do an internet search to find the fulfillment company's website. Most websites include a "Contact Us" or an "About Us" section with contact information that you can use to follow up about your prize.

  • Contact the Sponsor Directly
    If the sweepstakes doesn't list an administrator or fulfillment agency, contact the sponsor directly to ask about your prize. If it's a large company, it might take some digging to find the people in charge of the giveaway. Asking for the marketing department is a good place to start.

What to Say When You Ask for Information about Your Prize

You know the saying that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar? It holds true when you're trying to get information about a late prize as well. When writing to a sponsor, be positive and upbeat, and include details to make it easy for them to look up what happened. See my sample late prize letter for inspiration to help you write your own letter to the sponsor.

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