Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 recap part 2: 'No Mail' Days

(This will make more sense if you you read Part 1!)

Of course, life doesn’t always run smoothly and sometimes prizes don’t get shipped or get lost in the post.. I do follow up, if that happens, by email, but sometimes things just don’t show. If this happens to you – you’ve waited the 4-6 weeks or so, and no happy package in the mail, here’s what I do to follow up. (If it wasn't a blog contest, skip to step 3!)
  1. I first email the blogger who ran the giveaway, including the ‘you’re a winner’ email, and explain that you have been waiting for the prize but it hasn’t come. Be polite. Be patient. Be understanding. The blogger, after all, usually isn’t the one who sends the prize out –it’s usually the sponsor who is responsible for shipping. So she has to get in touch with the sponsor, wait to hear back, get back to you… and she’s got other stuff going on in her life.
  2. If you don’t hear back within a week or so, drop her another quick note. Say you’re just following up. Be nice.
  3. If you still don’t hear back, try contacting the company that sponsored the giveaway (if there is one). Look for the email address of Customer Care, or PR on their website. Include your previous emails with the blogger. Explain the situation. If you have a blog, you might want to mention that you’d be happy to review the product (if it comes!) on your blog (only if you’re actually going to). Again, be nice.
If you still don’t hear or receive anything… well, you’re probably out of luck. I have had one situation where my email was bounced around within a company and they finally got back to me months later. Five months later I received the prize. I’d given up at that point. It was so worth emailing the company, though – this was the great Decleor skin care products I mentioned earlier. But mostly… by the time you have followed up 3 times, if you haven’t gotten your prize, you can forget about it.

Here are some of my disappointments from 2009 – things I won that never came:
  • I won some Japanese fabrics from Lovely Little Handmades back in February that didn’t come. I was pretty excited about the fabric because I do love sewing. I am pretty sure Kerri was shipping them herself, and if they got lost in the mail I can totally understand not wanting to get more fabric and pay again for shipping.
  • I won a Bazzle Big Bib from Mommy’s Quiet Time in April. Stefanie (the blogger) was so nice and kept re-contacting the company, who promised to send it out asap, but… it never came. Eventually I felt like it wasn’t worth bothering Stefanie any more – it wasn’t her fault – and just gave up.
  • I won a Kleen Kanteen from Dexter’s Super Savvy Mommy in April, but when I sent my address in response to the ‘you won!’ email, I got the message that the company wasn’t shipping to Canada. The giveaway rules didn’t exclude Canada (or I wouldn’t have entered, obviously). That was a little disappointing.
  • I won an audio book at A Novel Bookworm in June, from Hachette audio, which never came. I did follow up but with no result. I was looking forward to that because I listen to audio books at work all the time.
  • Also in June, I won three items from Womb to Bloom (one through the forums, two in a live giveaway event): a Sweet Pea baby hat, PSI band, and a hospital maternity gown. None of which ever came. I did try following up with the forum moderators, who at first assured me they would look into it and also said they’d send them out personally, but I still didn’t receive anything and they stopped responding to my (very polite and patient) messages. A triple disappointment!
  • In June again, I won Posh Pads (nursing pads) from A Kindred Spirit’s Thoughts. I got to the point of contacting one of the company owners, who told me that they have trouble shipping to Canada as “things get lost” (in my experience, mainly, they don’t… international shipping, as a business owner who ships frequently, and as a recipient, has been incredibly reliable). She said they were sent the first time, she said she’d send another set, but… nothing came.
  • A Clene changing mat from Bellaziza’s Favourite Things. Again not the fault of the blogger, this just never came from the sponsor. I wasn't even sure who the sponsor was so it was hard to follow up (the product links led to the Amazon page).
There are a bunch more things from November and December that I am still waiting on. Hopefully they come !

I just want to mention that although I was disappointed in not receiving these prizes, I don't hold the bloggers responsible. No hard feelings! The sponsors are generally the ones who didn't come through for me, and whether things really did get lost in the post, or just didn't get sent, I would have hoped that they would have responded positively to my messages and followed through. I know prizes aren't a company's first priority. But if you're going to sponsor a contest (and get the word of mouth promotion from that), you should be prepared to hold up your end. A happy winner spreads the word - I know I do on my blog!

And if any of these sponsors should end up reading this - get in touch! I'd love to take you off the 'naughty' list and let my readers know that you did come through!

Meanwhile I do have one more long-term prize that finally showed up - I won an Expectees shirt at Things Moms Like in July, and it finally came in December, after several emails. It's cute. (And I am certainly hoping that 'practice makes pregnant' so that I can wear it with pride!)

Ultimately, out of 113 contests won, I didn’t receive 8 prizes. It’s not so bad.

Have you ever been left hanging by a prize not received?

2009 recap Part 1: Happy Mail Days

My name is Emily, and I am a giveawayaholic.

I’ve been entering giveaways for over 10 years and with all that entering, I do actually win some here and there. Some of my favourite wins from years gone by include a $5,000 gift card to HBC (from a local radio station’s online contest – that was awesome!), a KitchenAid stand mixer, a Sony digital camera, a bunch of clothing, skin care products from Decleor and Peter Thomas Roth (both really luxe and pricey, which I would never have treated myself to!) a big box of chocolate from Lindt… The random reward keeps me entering! (Pavlov’s dog, anyone?!)

I do keep track of my wins, and in 2009 the approximate retail value of everything I won was $6,265. (The year before, $7,512!). Crazy, right? It’s just a hobby. I don’t watch much tv, I don’t spend much time talking on the phone, or shopping, and since I don’t have kids (yet?!), I have the time. And while it’s partly about winning, it’s also mostly about learning about new products out there, and thinking about how they would fit into my life. Most of the time I spend entering giveaways is really time spent dreaming.

I only enter giveaways that I actually want to win! And I was the lucky winner 113 times last year. (To put that in perspective, I am entered in about 450 contests right now – that’s kind of low for me as a lot of contests ended December 31st. Not all of those are blog contests, by the way!). They say you can’t win if you don’t enter. From my perspective – if you enter, and enter, and enter some more, you are bound to win at some point.

So here are some of my favourite wins from 2009:
  • In March, the $500 worth of Icebreaker clothing. I won this directly from Icebreaker in a contest on their website. They make lovely merino wool clothing that is super warm (yet breathable), thin and soft. I was worried that the wool would be itchy, but it’s not at all. For $500 worth, I chose the Courtenay jacket (they were out of stock of the jacket I initially wanted), Amazon Scoop shirt, Lily Pants, and two Bikinis. I wear my Icebreaker clothes all the time.
  • Clothing from Boob. I won a top at Sweet Sticky Reviews (a blog I can no longer find), and then another top at Lipstick to Crayons. Let me just say their customer service is amazing, and the clothing I received is great quality and also very flattering. Obviously with the two lost pregnancies I haven’t had a chance to fully enjoy the maternity & nursing wear (although I confess I wear one of the nursing tops often because I like it!), but I can’t wait to wear them to their full potential!
  • Lovely swaddling blankets from Miracle Blanket (directly), Beba Bean (won at Simply Stacie), and aden+anais (won at Celebrity Baby Clothes). Again, all great quality. I tested the Miracle Blanket out on my best friend’s daughter at two months; it was easy to use and she was a happy baby.
  • See Kai Run shoes. I won three pairs (at Seeryus Mama, Minnesota Mama’s Must Haves, and Daily Essentials and Deals), and our future baby will be well-shod. The shoes are so cute, well-constructed, and have great packaging too.
  • The Booby Trapper nursing cover from Oh My Baby. This is Canadian-made and has the great feature of two (not one) ribs that make it the best cover I’ve seen. My best friend has this on a lengthy borrow and is using it to nurse her little one.
  • Baby carriers: An Evenflo Snugi Sway carrier (for newborns) from Mommy Goggles. I just love it. Can’t wait to use it. The Sleepy Wrap from The Bragging Mommy (for newborn to one year) and the Boba Carrier from Dirty Diaper Laundry (for 1-4 years). I am set for carriers.
  • Cake lingerie (nursing/maternity lingerie) that I won at Now What Baby. (Most of their contests seem to be now US only so I was very lucky to get in on this.) Cake is an Australian company, and the bra, briefs, two nighties and sleep shorts that I received are the nicest lingerie I have EVER owned. The nursing bra is simply amazing – soft, so pretty and functional. I can’t say enough good things. I love this lingerie.
These are my most favourite things from the last year. Of course there are more - too many to go into detail (and some of which I have reviewed already), but nothing I have received has disappointed. And the majority (in quantity, not necessarily in value) of what I have won has been baby-related – with the stash I have ready for baby, he or she had better come soon!

Have you won some wonderful things? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

This better be a happy new year

...because I can't take another crap year like the last one.

So here's to 2010 being productive, exciting and full of new beginnings!


Yesterday the mail brought a lip and cheek stain from Balmshell that I won over on Sparkled Beauty (thanks!). So my crush on the Stila crush has abated somewhat as I play with my new product. The Balmshell one has cool packaging - a little swab in a clear jar on one end, and an anti-bacterial sponge on the other end for smearing on the cheeks, so you don't get blushing fingers. The colour I received was Scandalous Scarlet, which is a deep alizarin crimson in the jar and lighter (more sheer, anyway) on the lips.

I had some on last night and hubby didn't notice. But this morning I put some on and in the light of day today, the comment was, "What have you got on your face?!" Yes, I married a man full of compliments and admiration. He next told me he didn't think the colour was right for me. Then he said maybe he's just not used to it (I do have pretty pale lips and rarely wear colour so that is probably true).

I like it. It's maybe a little more towards fuchsia than I would pick but because it's sheer I can keep it light. The weird thing is, I got some on my finger and it did stain my finger a lot more than it looks like it's staining my lips. :) new makeup toy.

I was thinking I might do a recap on the year in terms of giveaways - I do enter an awful lot of them, and I do win some as well. I was thinking to share my favourite things I've won in the last year, and maybe sharing a little disappointment with things that I won that simply never showed up. Any interest? Or shall I just go on with things?


And a bit of catching up on giveaways that are on now:

For baby:
For the ladies:
For anyone:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I want!

I'm SO crushing on Stila's Cherry Crush Lip and Cheek Stain.

Let me just say how odd this is for me. I wear makeup every day (having bad skin for 20 years, I'm accustomed to putting in the time each morning by now). Despite this I'm pretty low-key on the makeup front. Foundation, concealer, and a smudgy brown eyeliner are pretty much the most I'll do. Maybe a bit of blush or eyeshadow if we're going out at night - which is rarely!

I'm not exactly up on the makeup scene. I feel completely intimidated by the beauty counter girls, and going into a store like Sephora is so overwhelming that I'm on my way out the door within seconds. I feel like I don't belong. I buy my makeup at Shoppers.

For the last month we've had a few things to go to where we dressed up a bit, and I wanted to raise the bar. I had a bunch of lipsticks kicking around in my cosmetics drawer - apparently very old as I can't remember buying any of them - yeah, I know that's not good.

In fact, I think they may be from the 90's. (Who knew lipstick colours became dated? ...I guess a lot of women do know that.)
In related fact, most of them are probably gift-with-purchases passed on from my grandma. Who passed away 5 years ago.

I tried on a few of them prior to one recent night out and had both my husband and myself gasping for air laughing at how they looked. Yikes.

With my pale lips, tendency to bite my lips, chapping issues (it's Canada, it's winter), a lip balm habit... a lipstick isn't really going to cut it.

All this in mind, I saw this deal at the Sephora website - $10 (US) for two full-size Stila crushes, and thought - hey, why not. Then I saw the shipping cost - an additional $9.95 to Canada. Ouch. Suddenly it didn't seem like such a great deal. I didn't buy.

But the other day we were at the mall, I braved the Sephora store and tested out the Cherry crush on my finger. It's sheer, the colour stays, it's super pretty, not outdated, I like the brush applicator... and ONE tube there is $32 CDN (plus 13% tax, of course).

So. Is it worth spending $20 US on lipstick? Totally not something I normally do. Would it sit in my drawer or purse, unused as the years go by? Would it, being a stain, make my lips more chapped? Or would it give me a fresh look and a rosy glow (it's a cheek stain too)? Will it look pretty on my actual face as it did on my finger?

Ugh. Do other women debate for hours over spending $20 (probably $25-30 after conversion, charges, taxes) on lipstick? Am I being ridiculously cheap, or is even this seeming 'deal' crazy expensive?

I know. Life is not that rough if this is the biggest question I have in life (it's not). Just debating whether I should go on and order already, or go lower-end and pick up some cheap thing at the drugstore.

Meanwhile, DH just bought a whole bunch of electronics online (he got great deals, it's stuff I can't deny will be good, if not exactly a need, it can be written off as a business expense, but still... you know what I'm getting at here).

I've been featured!

Stacie has been doing a feature lately on Canadian bloggers - and today the spotlight is on me! Check it out at Simply Stacie.

And if you're not that interested in me, you should still go check it out - her blog is one of my daily reads. Stacie does reviews, hosts lots of giveaways, and is one of my favourite bloggers. She's based in beautiful Nova Scotia!

Simply Stacie

Today I have a family dinner to go to - seeing some relatives I haven't seen in years. In fact, some cousins will be there who I have never met in person. Should be fun!

The sales are still on, if you're bargain shopping. I just checked out the Spring website and they have a big selection of handbags on sale (love this one, for $20.99!) as well as lots of shoes, boots and sandals at reduced prices (and in Canadian dollars too). Free shipping if your order tops $49. Today's the last day for this sale. Have you found any great deals online shopping? I'm looking for a new handbag, maybe some boots... I didn't find the perfect ones for me at Spring, so if you have noticed any other great sales, please let me know!

I have a big list of giveaways yet to post, I haven't forgotten - I'll make sure to get them up before the time runs out. Here's a couple to start out with.

For baby:
For the ladies:
  • Win a $40 gift certificate to Better Mommy Fashions at My Wee View. Ends January 8th.
  • Win a Hotslings MilkDaze nursing cami at Dirty Diaper Laundry. Ends January 6th.
  • Win a black organic nursing tank top by Momzelle at Happily Domestic. Ends January 6th.
For anyone:
  • Win a Burt's Bees Radiance Healthy Glow Gift Set from at Organic Girl. Ends January 8th.