Text messages never before seemed  like any kind of a threat since I have “unlimited messaging” but there’s a new way they could be!

I hardly ever use my phone in general and text messages in particular.  I have an ancient phone which I can almost never find when I need it.  And admittedly I am definitely not “up to date”  with the technological advances in phone technology.  My husband and I will joke with each other when we need some tidbit of information in the car… saying “just look that up on your phone” but of course we don’t have a phone that can even come close to doing anything like that.

The text message I received seemed harmless — somebody from a ringtone place saying that I was signed up for as many free ringtones as I wanted — or something like that.  I ignored it right along with the ones from the local Wawa or Kwik Chek  which offers me a deal on a sandwich or a coffee.  I never respond to any of them and quite honestly, they pile up as messages for quite some time before I even get to open my phone to know I have them.  That’s right I don’t use my phone every day.  I almost never can find it when it rings, and I certainly don’t use one of those unique ringtones.   However, I have to admit “emergency” cases have come up over the years and I am glad I have one — I just am not that connected to it.  

So imagine my surprise when the next month on my phone bill I discover at charge for $9.99.  I haven’t a clue what it is, and why it’s there.  I think it’s because I pushed the wrong number into my phone when trying to use it, I think I might have some sort of feature I don’t know about and activated it by mistake.  What I do know is that I don’t want it, whatever it is and I sure don’t want to pay $9.99 for it.

 Cell Phone Ringtone   Yes, it turns out it’s a ringtone scam.  They find your cell number by “any means they can” and then they send you a message about having been signed up for free and unlimited ringtones.  If you do not respond with “STOP” – you get charged $9.99 a month as an access fee to this “free unlimited ringtone” service.  Now you never asked for this, you have no clue why they called your number, but they will bill you as a third party biller through your cell phone service provider for it, each and every month until you cancel it.

   We caught ours the first month, because we read our bills and yes, try to figure out and make sense of any odd charges, or unexpected balance.  Anyone on an automatic payment deduction from their bank account each month, might not notice or care or think about this $9.99.  Many would actually just “assume” their plan or the taxes attached to their plan went up….and this is how and why this particular scam works so well.

So while you can’t hide your cell number from these new thieves – you can check your bill and make sure you aren’t one of their victims.  Our provider was happy to provide the short code to send a ‘stop” message to this company on the same phone the message was originally sent to,  and even waited till I received a confirmation on the phone from them.  She removed the charge off my bill — and per my request blocked all premium services like this one from my phone.  You may not be able to block premium services as I know many of you use them every day – but you can and should make sure that you aren’t a victim to this type of scam. 



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I just recently read of something pretty annoying to me.  It’s about a “blog contest” which has put the blog owner in a sort of a quandary.  She ran the contest per the sponsors’ instructions, and at the end picked a random winner.  The winners’ entries were verified (the entrant completed the mandatory and optional choices to receive her entries legitimately).  She notified the winner, and then notified the sponsor who (in almost all cases) is responsible for the prize fulfillment. 

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  However that’s when the issue occurred.  The sponsor told the blog owner that they would not be awarding the prize to this winner because she was a “sweeper” and “she had won previously”, and that the blog owner should pick another winner.  Does being a sweeper disqualify you from winning?  Does winning one or more of their giveaways disqualify you from ever winning again?  How does one get labeled a sweeper?  Does winning separate contests from the same sponsor mean they will disqualify you – at whim, or randomly, for no good reason?  As far as I can know, this person entered in good faith – where she might have tweeted, or pinned, or shared on  Facebook, or maybe signed up for a newsletter, etc. just as all the other entrants had done.  And even if she has done this on every single promotion this sponsor has run, and has won previously, what makes this person now ineligible to win?

The blog owner didn’t want to pick a new winner.   She had already notified the legitimate winner.  There was no discussion about letting the sponsor know who won in advance of notifying the winner, there was no discussion, language or rule known to the blog owner or entrant, that allowed the sponsor to make this “arbitrary” decision.  The blog owner feels as if she is now in a precarious position because the alleged “sweeper” did all that was required of her, and was picked randomly and fairly. 

The issue is – Can the sponsor disqualify a winner for this reason if it was not stated upfront to both the blog owner and the entrants?  Can they just keep having random winners picked till they “agree”  on a  person who is OK to win the prize?  Can you pick your friend, sister-in-law or aunt if they happened to enter and you wanted them to have the prize?  Can and do sponsors of blog contests make lists of people they will NOT allow to win in their contests? 

How do you feel about this way of doing business – this fixing of the contest, this outright manipulation of the results?  We’d all be naive if we thought blog owners, or sponsors never did some of this.  I’ll bet they do it daily in one way or another (like just never sending the prize out to the winner).  I feel that no matter whom you are, why you entered, how many times you entered – if you entered legitimately – and were chosen randomly – you deserve the prize.

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If this promotion clearly had stated that you cannot win a second time from this company, or that once you won from them, you were never able to win again from this sponsor, I might think differently.  But I believe that it’s really sneaky that the sponsor doesn’t mention that they will chose the winner in a fashion that might not be fair, and  have the right to determine who you are, label you and then disqualify you at whim. 

I am not a lawyer, and I don’t work for the FTC (who might be the one who regulates things like this), so I don’t really know what to say.  As a blog owner the lack of ethical behavior on the part of the sponsor, and their lack of honesty really appalls me.  Actually it makes me a bit angry – because they really are treating the winner as a cheater who shouldn’t win because they’ve already awarded her a prize in a previous giveaway.  This entrant spread their message and basically did marketing for them by tweeting, sharing and entering, just like every other entrant hoping to win.  Nowhere did they give her any indication she was doing all that work for THEM for nothing as they had no intention of awarding her the prize.

I don’t personally know this blog owner, I haven’t ever to my knowledge hosted a giveaway by this sponsor and I am not the winner in this instance.  I have no investment in the outcome of this particular case but  I wrote this article because it’s annoying to me to know that even when you think people are running legitimate contests (and most are), behind the scenes sponsors are manipulating the outcome.

**No one paid or influenced me in any way to write this article, the contents are 100% my own opinions about an injustice that had come to my attention regarding a specific blog contest sponsor. 

UPDATE:  The sponsor in question has decided to award the prize to the “sweeper” who actually won!  This is good news although the sponsor said they have rules on their actual site that say they have the FINAL say in these matters and that they can make this type of decision.  I believe if they want this type of rule,  just make sure everyone knows it, and sees it before they enter.  And remember.. with them saying they have the final say ~ that  could mean just about anything.  I can tell you, they are certainly not going to get any blog entries from me – I have better things to do with my time.

 



 

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Welcome to the Cook n’ Grow Event

This giveaway is Hosted by Mom to Bed by 8. With special co-hosts: Kelly’s Thoughts on Things, Capri’s Coupons, Homeschooling Mom 4, Coupon Queen of Texas, Giveaway Bandit and Iowa Sweets.

If you haven’t ever had the joy of owning a Little Tikes Product… this is your chance.  These toys are made to last and last and last.  You will wind up wondering why you never saw the enormous value in their products.  You children and grandchildren will just absolutely love them from day one!

And here’s another fact, many of them are made in the USA!

If you win this prize, it will allow you to nurture an inspiring little chef with this realistic Cook N’ Grow Kitchen play set that will grow with your child. When this Little Tikes kitchen is opened it is the perfect height for toddlers. When the kitchen is compacted it is now the perfect size for your preschooler to cook your dinner. There are 50+ accessories included! Browse our full Play Kitchen collection for more fun toys.

Features:

• Kitchen has 2 age grade configurations
1) Kitchen is expanded and the height is just right for toddlers
2) Compacting the kitchen makes it just right for preschoolers
• Electronic cooking sounds
• Hooks for hanging cups
• Molded in slots to hold plates
• Oven, refrigerator and microwave doors all open and close
• Shape-sorting lid for pot helps develop fine motor skills
• 50+ accessories included

Little Tikes Cook n Grow Kitchen

One lucky winner will receive the Little Tikes Cook N’ Grow Kitchen + $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Giveaway ends February 15th, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS OVER… THE WINNER WAS:   Entry #40915Rachel D.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from yours. Its Annoying is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact teri@mompoweredmedia.com with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!

 
 

                $350 Melissa & Doug Toys Giveaway

Sponsored by Melissa & Doug
 

Melissa & Doug Toys are some of my absolute favorites.  They are built to last — and they do.  I love their puzzles, play food, puppets and plush.  But they also have so many wonderful things that will both educate and keep your children busy for hours and hours.  Toys like their magnetic activities, musical instruments and more!  Melissa & Doug® is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of educational toys and children’s products.  If you haven’t seen or tried some of these toys, you just do not know what you are missing ~~  So enter today and get started on a wonderful and fun toy experience!

Over 23 years ago we started our company in the garage of the home where Doug grew up — we had to be careful not to disturb Doug’s parents who were still living there! Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to move into a real office down the road, a building that actually has separate ladies and men’s bathrooms! Our philosophy has remained the same over the years–to make each and every customer a happy and permanent member of the Melissa & Doug family, while offering products with tremendous value, quality and design. Our line offers something for everyone with over 1,000 innovative products for children of all ages! We’ve always welcomed customer suggestions, and we continually strive to make improvements to our products. We’re honored by the faith you place in us and view it as our responsibility to continue to earn your trust in the years to come!

Read Coupon Gator Mommy’s Melissa & Doug Toys Review.

 

 
Three lucky winners!
 
Grand Prize: $250 in Your Choice of Melissa & Doug Products
1st Runner Up: $50 in Melissa & Doug Products
2nd Runner Up: $50 in Melissa & Doug Products
This giveaway ends Feb. 26, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. 
Open to US and Canada residents.
Good Luck!

 

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A special thanks to all the amazing bloggers who are participating in this giveaway!

~Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Its Annoying is not responsible for shipping prize to winner, nor did I accept any compensation for this promotion.~

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