Monday, 19 September 2011

Morals and values.


As you may all be aware we were in a Competition with Mercedes Vans, Made for the People.com
A dreaded Voting competition... which I do not normally enter, I have mentioned before about competitions and my love hate relationship with them and the greed and moral dilemma's they bring up.

But I do love a creative competition, I love to be creative and everyone likes it when someone rewards you for things you do, so this competition which although boiled down to votes, was also a creative competition, with only 10 people being shortlisted into the voting round, shortlisted on merit.

So we entered with good spirits and had good fun making a song up which we  wrote and sang ourselves,  we entered and were happy to be shortlisted, we rallied support and gained votes from genuine loyal friends and family.

However we had concerns from the off that something wasn't quite right, our votes were being matched to the exact number every night, then suddenly the other contenders jumped up 300+ votes in one day, we were hitting a bit of a brick wall our supports were slowing in numbers, and although my friends were still sharing with their friends the other contenders were flying up in votes fast. We googled to see if we could find anything out about how the other contenders were gaining votes, were they rallying support in local newspapers? were they on local radio stations? no....

What we uncovered was a much murkier world of voting contests!
Initially we found them on vote exchange sites, like getonlinevotes, and we emailed Mercedes, no response, we pondered we watched, we assumed this must be allowed due to the no responce from Mercedes, even tho we were assured they HAD recieved our emails. So we posted on Getonlinevotes, we watched to see if the votes would fly up now and match the other contestants votes.. but no, our votes remained still, we received 3 replies to our post on Getonline votes, 1 said they could not cast the vote as the site would not load, we puzzled about this, and went back to getonlinevotes and figured out this site only works if you are actively swopping your link, voting on other peoples and asking for a return vote, simply posting on their site will get next to no interest, this found out we quickly realized that was unattainable and certainly would be far to much effort and time taking, and would not be the way the others were gaining their 100's of votes in a matter of hours.

So we googled again, this time finding out even more murkier practices!

What the others were doing was buying votes online, on sites such as www.fivesquids.co.uk and www.microworkers.com


And joining in vote exchange websites where people offer to exchange 100's of votes from mutiple fake accounts.

We resisted joining in and continued to rally support genuinely talking to friends and family,managing to gain over 500 votes yet we were increasingly frustrated when our friends votes were not counting, when friends were reporting they could not load the website, or register their votes.

We messaged Mercedes at two different email address and received no response, we plodded on hoping that eventually they would sit up and take note... but no nothing, deathly silences from the organizers, increasing votes from the contestants. who were now on over 900 each

We decided to make a facebook page and try and rally support that way, with over 200 likes in less than a week, we also noticed that the leading contender had a facebook page with no likers at all!

Today I decided enough was enough and I rang Mercedes, spoke to a lovely man called Tom, who listened to my queries and reassured me they would look into it and get back to me.

They did indeed get back to me, but their response was disappointing to say the least. They Said:


the voting system allows visitors to vote once which is the only stipulation....

The approach the others are using does not break any rules and will not be disqualified....


So with that response we were thrown into a moral argument, what to do? join in... in the hope we can buy more votes? or refuse to be apart of that and hope that by taking a stand Mercedes will either stand up and take note, or other companies will not make such drastic mistakes!
The only way we could keep up would be to act in a manner I concider is cheating.

If you agree with us andwould class  buying votes as cheating then all we could ask you do is email Mercedes here:   competition@madeforthepeople.com

or phone them here: 
0845 602 4321

and join us by saying we do not agree with buying votes, its not fair that Mercedes are allowing this activity to win so openly, buying votes is NOT an option at all and we will take a stand against this!
Close the competition and Draw a winner out of a hat or pick on merit!

Surely voting contests means what the public deem as the best entry to win, buying votes completely undermines any such structure and really there would be no point in having the voting contest at all.
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Additional Note:

We pulled our video from the competition to take a stand, because we disagree with the voting structure, and had said on several occasions to Mercedes we would if they didn't help us sort this out. we were proud of our entry and were thrilled to be shortlisted, but do not agree in buying votes  we don't want to compete with this sort of vote gaining but would love for Mercedes to reconsider how they are picking their winner and make it fair!

Also we gained our support in a number of ways, I did not spam my blog with beggs to vote, I asked my friends on this blog post here: We really need your help and that was the only mention on my blog, we also asked  karaoke friends to help here : singsnap (notice we did not beg and plead or comment under everyones response asking for votes,  the majority of the people here who said they had voted actually didn't register, or didn't mention voting at all just saying they liked our tune -  we were happy they liked the song, as these are not 'friends' just people who appreciated the music) and we mainly rallied support on facebook, always conscious of spamming and begging and never forcing people to vote. We campaigned hard to spread the word and did so because we were proud of our video and with the contest shortlisted to a top10 thought we had proved ourselves worthy of votes.  Our genuine campaigning got us over 500 votes. But we will not continue campaigning to try and compete with vote buyers.

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Update------------------------------------------
After our successful campaign and with every bodies effort in bringing this to Mercedes attention, they finally listened and promptly amended their Terms and Conditions to disqualify vote buying, proving that Mercedes-Benz has a strong moral and ethical code. So strong indeed that they went on to disqualify us!!!!! want to know why? click here :Lessons well and truly learnt
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81 comments:

  1. This is why I don't do voting competitions. I have always thought they were too easy to fudge, this just proves it.

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  2. I've sent them an email Sarah. I think it sucks big time and they should be disqualified staright away xx

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  3. Oh no I didn't realise things like this happen. That is so wrong!

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  4. That is just beyond wrong. ABsolutely disgusting behaviour!

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  5. thank you I don't know if they will listen but it seems seriously unfair that big companies get away with such awful attitudes and dismiss such obviously wrong doings!!

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  6. Kate P (@yummymumto2)19 September 2011 at 08:56

    E-mail sent... you go girl, I can't believe the sheer lack of morals!

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  7. Disgusting behaviour - will retweet for you and email written.

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  8. thats dreadful!! and from a company like Mercedes Benz those people buying votes should defo be disqualified

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  9. As an experienced 'comper', this does not surprise me one iota. I always avoid voting comps for this very reason and only enter comps where the winner is either drawn randomly or is chosen by merit by the promoters. I saw a similar issue some months ago on Facebook to win a Flip camcorder; it degenerated into the same level of cheating, to the extent that Flip listened to the complaints and decided to choose the winner themselves. Boo to MB for not listening.

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  10. I'm really shocked about this - I always avoid a voting competition because I always think other people will know more people they can get to vote for them. This buying votes just has to be wrong because votes are meant to be on merit surely, but I guess for the company they only care about exposure to lots of people. I will def continue to avoid any voting competitions, knowing this! I would hope that whilst the 'rules' may not be broken so they cannot do anything this time, a company now alive to this sort of scam will not run similar comps again and will choose another type.

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  11. I always wondered how some people got loads of votes on those types of competitions! I didn't know you could buy votes! How disgusting that this can be allowed! Aren't competitions supposed to be fair! And I'd expect a better response from a company like Mercedes Benz!!

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  12. You would have thought that Mercedes would like good PR for their new Van launch.
    Funny thing is the people that get paid to vote are not remotely interested in
    any contest/competition they click on as they use accounts that are soley used for
    this practice.

    Then you guys that have attracted all this attention from hard work talking each person through the voting
    system and promoting their Product get a reply like that.

    Now all that will end up happening is a huge spread of bad news about this whole Mercedes thing and their
    Competition thats a great PR idea I think not.

    Well maybe there made for the people but not for the UK people more to the highest bidder people!


    I hear people are saying that maybe it's because their unable to do anything becuase their scared of the
    cheaters complaining but whats one cheater against everyone else and i'm certain there will be a lot more
    people like me disgusted about how they treated you.

    Charles

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  13. This RUINS the concept of this type of competition, but I'm not sure what can be done about it, other than avoiding comps like this. Where a competition requires effort, the winner should be chosen by a judging panel, I think. In this case, surely MB could have got just as much publicity by, say, holding the judging at an event?

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  14. Be certain they can dissqualify them at any point they run the competition and there is nothing the cheats can do about it. As these guys cannot do anything about the cheating support merc ignore.

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  15. I agree Phil, I just would have liked Mercedes to say no the rules don't state 'no buying votes' but surely thats because its common sence? bit like you don't put a sign on your door saying 'no burgulars' you just expect the everyday person to not break in! and if they do break in then you hope someone holds them to account? I don't really know but I have heard other companies who have found out about such practises disqualify the people who are using such tactics and maybe draw a winner randomly instead...

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  16. That's pretty disgusting if you ask me. Mercedes should be ashamed that they're letting these votes pass as genuine, especially when you and many others have gone to such a lot of trouble to drum up genuine votes. I would be equally disappointed. I'm not one for competitions and think I've only ever asked for votes once on my blog. This has definitely put my off ever doing it again.

    CJ xx

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  17. Voting competitions suck. There are so many ways someone can get extra votes in a slightly dodgy way. Then there are the 'honest' ways of getting more votes - eg having lots of friends vote for you, rather than them voting for which they think is best.

    For Mercedes, however, voting competitions are fantastic! Just think how much advertising you're drumming up for them! All it's costing is a car, which is basically nothing to them.

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  18. I wish I'd known about this competition as I've blogged about issues with voting competitions before and have got many companies to change the rules to stop this sort of behaviour! http://super-lucky.blogspot.com/2011/02/when-voting-competitions-go-wrong.html

    If the rules don't mention it, then entrants have free reign to swap votes, offer prizes in return for votes or buy votes. Promoters will insist on running voting competitions but we need to remind them to use stricter T&Cs, to involve some element of judging and ideally to offer prizes for voters as an incentive too.

    It takes a hell of a lot of time to campaign for genuine votes, yet people will spend £50 on buying 500 fake votes to win a prize. It's shocking and really makes me sad.

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  19. I have heard about buying votes, never really knew how it worked. It's terrible that it can happen & even worse that Mercedes are allowing it to happen. I'm sure they won't take any notice....do they even care? probably not....you have a great entry & can hold your head up high in the knowledge that you have not lowered yourself down to their level. I would tell Mercedes to **** it & pull out
    x

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  20. Jeez Sarah, this is disgusting! How are they allowed to get away with this sort of stuff? It's not fair to the people who enter these competitions honestly and openly, like yourselves - put hard work in and rally the votes...then other people just go and buy their votes. Mercedes should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves to ignore these practices. I would maybe expect it from a small unheard of company but not a big brand like them.

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  21. Thank you for your email earlier Sarah. I have to say i'm currently really confused. I too complained to Mercedes about this competition 2 weeks ago now and was told the same as you

    "the voting system allows visitors to vote once which is the only stipulation....

    The approach the others are using does not break any rules and will not be disqualified...."

    and as such I decided not to persue the matter any further.

    What confuses me though, Is that yours was one of the 3 entries I complained about after discovering with a quick google search that 3 of you had paid for pages on a website called "get online votes". I don't know the rules of comping, or what generally goes or doesn't, so can someone please explain to me which of these avenues are deemed acceptable and why and which aren't and why?

    Thank you

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  22. You know, nothing surprises me anymore. How low some will stoop to win. This is why I avoid voting comps too.

    Call me old fashioned but I'd rather not win a thing that win underhanded. I couldn't sleep at night.

    You go girl, this is disgusting.

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  23. thanks for the comments Wayne, yes you would have found I posted on the 'get online votes' site.. I did so to see how it worked... and if you look at my post on there I had 3 responces i think (not checked recently) and 1 said they couldn't get the site to load... I did not pursue that avenue any furthur, my findings were that one on one vote exchange in sites like that seemed to take alot of effort and as such if that was the only way the others were generating votes I wouldn't have minded, but when I saw that the others were gaining votes via buying them I was totally unhappy....

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  24. Sorry i've just been back on to the site and seen that the link I originally clicked was to add a link and not a vote request and that will be why it came up with prices, so I will take back the paid for pages part. The stuff that you unearthed is obviously a lot more serious than what I found so I really am surprised that Mercedes stuck to there "only stipulation" line. I guess in this case it will be the person who could probably most afford to buy the van who will actually win it. Shame really.

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  25. Awful. This would have been excellent advertising for Mercedes. It's very low and make you see the whole brand in a different light.

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  26. My misses nearly died laughing when she heard the part that says

    “I can now drive all the way to the sun where I can burn my litter, which makes the sun burn brighter, and means better weather for the UK”

    So litter is destroying our planet but global warming is fine??

    He does say in his video “After buying the van” quite apt really if he does *win*!

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  27. Oh Hi Wayne id you get my message? I hope you did. Yes I was thinking about posting to vote exhange sites but sarah insisted i didnt and said that was wrong hence her blog here afterwards. I said yes but they have posted this kinda stuff everywhere and we cannot win if we dont do the same. Sarah stated that she would do this by getting her real friends and followers to vote and not use swapping sites and alike. So i left it to her to rally support. Like i said in the message feel free to ad sarah on facebook and check her votes everyone will be more than happy to verify that they have voted. I would accept the 3 votes removed from my mistake of posting there but still its the buying votes that is taking the piss and what it the point on a public vote if you own all the votes for your video becuase you bought them all.

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  28. buying the VAN woot i missed that can you believe it lol

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  29. LOL Wayne have you also noticed that garbage guys car is left hand drived?! you'd think with such attention to detail he wouldn't of misplaced the steering... that is unless he didn't and he actually is american? or someone in america was paid to draw it?! also garbageguy on facebook has just 1 lonely liker ;ox

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  30. Thanks for drawing this to our attention. Rest assured we are carefully looking into it and we’ll update you as soon as we can.

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  31. I agree and do think that is a good idea.
    Ten votes, one for each finalist to choose there favourite yes good idea. At least everone is happy then and can choose rather than have no choice on what happens. thanks for that :)

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  32. You guys ought to be detectives or something. How do you find this stuff out?! I never noticed the left hand drive thing before. It does all make for an interesting theory with the web programming thing.

    I don't need to check anything, I trust by the fact that you've removed your video that you are quite serious.

    I, like you Darren, did consider the, if you can't beat em, join em approach but my OH went nuts at the idea and we decided that the whole competition was best left well alone.

    I doubt we could of found enough cash to buy enough votes anyway. 10 days to go, it will be interesting to see what the vote counts are at by the end.

    It seems very unjust.

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  33. Mercedes needs to do the right thing here!

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  34. Wayne I agree we certainly couldn't of found enough cash to buy votes :( It is a real shame because I have spent such along time building up my following and friends online, my reputation as a blogger, and I went against all my normal morals asking them to vote in the first place... and I wouldn't of done if I had of known this would have been the out come :( It upsets me that my friends all took time to support me and it seems to not of been worth it :(

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  35. I find that sometimes being too honest, you lose out, while cheaters wins! But I will say, those cheaters will have KARMA to deal with! Never be dishonest, even though it seems like it's the only way to get ahead. Have pride, we all know you were honest! Honestly, I think Mercedes should give two cars as a prize, one for the BOGUS, DISHONEST person, since they seem to be allowing it and one for the HONEST one, such as yourself Jackson! This would be the right thing to do by Mercedes!

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  36. Email sent - I really do find it frustrating that companies do not respond to complaints seriously; I understand that some promotions are run by PR companies who only need to show the numbers to the client to get paid - but at the end of the day, someone needs to be held responsible! Triton showers constantly hold 'like' competitions on FB, and refuse to change the rules - so, for me, I won't purchase their products; seems to be the only way to get through!

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  37. I think its absolutely disgusting that people are allowed to do this. It should be a fair competition and not one where you are having to buy your votes. This is all wrong and for those that have done that should be disqualified.
    I too emailed Mercedes and got the same reply as you and was appauled that they are allowing this to happen.
    MERCEDES if you read this you ought to be ashamed of letting this happen. The Jackson family have had genuine votes from family & friends and to me and many others you have just totally disregarded them by letting this happen.
    YOU KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT THING TO DO IS........

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  38. have you actually thought that you may be stuck in the past ? where competitions were cute friendly things ? but now why do you think companies hold competitions ? its to get the likes, the page views etc .. the more page views / likes / votes they get, the better the competition has gone .. why should it be about the comper ? why did you even go in for this contest ? its a voting contest .. that means the name of the game is to get as many votes as you can .. if it were about how many friends you can get to vote then that is unfair because the one with the most friends would win everytime ...

    i think many companies think the same as mercedes .. just a sign of the times in PR

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  39. It may well be "just a sign of the times in PR" but then promoter's need to specify their intent for the competition. E.g. let's say they want a photo of a sunset - is it best photo to win or person who can get the most clicks to win?

    If the latter then just forget the palava of getting people to be creative. Saves wasting everyone's time - including the promoter/agency who's ingenuity has come up with the mechanics. In this case Mercedes could have just randomly picked 10 entrants and said "go and get some votes"...

    Promoters seem to want best of both worlds but things need balance. E.g. reward creativity more than votes - make voting a fun element or only allow people who have entered the chance to vote (or only their votes count) or perhaps reward for best way of getting votes not necessarily the most.

    You also have to remember that promoters also like the PR after a promotion. One comp we know did a rule change (after they discovered cheating) because they couldn't use the winning "stories" in their planned PR... so vote comps don't always have the desired effect.

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  40. Anonymous to be honest if that was Mercedes approach then the pr has completely backfired. There's no way I would touch a Mercedes product with a barge pole at the moment and I have emailed them to tell them that.

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  41. Just to add, I don't have a problem with sites like getonlinevotes.com where you swap a single vote with someone in a different competition. This is actually really time consuming and hard work, but the votes you get in return are from genuine people! The multiple 'vote-swapping' I dislike is mainly conducted on Facebook groups, where someone swaps votes from 100+ fake accounts for votes from 100+ fake accounts somewhere else in the world. As for vote buying, I don't believe that should ever be allowed in a fair competition.

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  42. Wow, I am absolutely flabbergasted to read this! I never participate in popularity contests because I refuse to spam for votes and thus I'd never win. This particular competition is a prime example of why vote-based contests are no longer a fair way to offer prizes.

    I can't entirely blame Mercedes for the response they gave though. They are in a bit of a tricky situation, because if the rules did not specify that buying votes would end in disqualification they could end up in a lot of trouble if they then refuse the "winner" their prize. They have been incredibly stupid however, and it could result in some negative publicity depending how far you wish to take things. Hopefully this will teach them an important lesson and maybe they will word their rules more carefully in any future competitions.

    This of course does not help the current situation for you. Sadly it doesn't pay to play fair and square when there are such dishonest people in the world. In this case, it is a particularly valuable prize, so the lowest pond scum have come out of the woodwork.

    Well done for sticking to your morals and not stooping to their level. Let them enjoy their ill-gotten material gains, it won't bring them any happiness in the long-term.

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  43. I'd rather be in the past and try to win by asking people i know than sit on my arse and expect money to do it for me.

    Also your on a loser there mate because when it comes to who is right here "vote buying" will lose end of!

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  44. thank you Loquax and superluckiDi my point exsactly I looked at getmeonlinevotes and thought blimey what a long winded process I would rather ask my genuine friends to spare the time to vote than spend all day voting for others in the hope they return the favour... but if you wanted to do that fairly then hats off to you if you win... however the mass exchange which surprise surprise garbageguys lonely facebook page seems to only like these 'dodgy' vote exchange facebook pages... and buying votes are the ones i do not tolerate... like I said these sort of votes will not bring any revenue back to mercedes what so ever, these 'people' behind these votes will never think of mercedes again and will not spread the word... my friends who have taken the time to talk about mercedes with me, look at my video and think about vans with 'our car being too small' may well off been future customers!so yeah if I was mercedes I'd of disqualified the others in a shot in hope that would have encouraged me to spread good publisity and encourage the other 7 contestants to do the same!

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  45. Btw you miss the point sarah dosn't have an infinate amount of friends but if sarahs friends think it merits to ask their friends to vote and they pass it on through friends of friends isn't that the proper way to work at canvassing for a vote. So based on "you have more friends than the next" is not viable arguement. I only feel bad for sarah as she spent hour after hour, going over and over with each and everyone one to make sure they can get it to register properly and yes i mean talking to friends then them passing on the their friends what a pain but she put the effort in. For what???

    maybe it is just our grasp of what is the correct thing and maybe people honestly dont care about anything anymore and it is just no holds barred i win by all means. If that is all anyone can think of nowdays then yeah take me back to when people gave a shit about things!

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  46. We've not allowed vote requests on Loquax for a few years now simply because of the problems it caused (and the fact people took advantage - join up, ask for votes, not even say thanks).

    So vote request forums, sites, groups etc are not something we're overly fond of... there's always someone who will have the advantage.

    But nice to see compers debating issues - next on the agenda... automated entry services ;o)

    That said vote mechanbics never be banned or go away so finding a better way to run them is key.

    Other possible ideas include getting people that vote have to explain their choice.. weighted votes (top 1, 2 and 3).. can't vote unless you've seen all entries... get entrants to demonstrate how they've gleaned votes etc.

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  47. I have noticed that the terms on their site state they can alter the rules at any moment without notice. See below:

    24. The Promoter reserves it's right to alter, amend or foreclose the promotion at any time and without any further notice.

    So they are not in such a sticky situation really as they can state that vote buying is not allowed and they realised this is not acceptable at any moment without notice.

    Now lets see if they do or not.

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  48. you see it all started when naive pr companies thought voting comps meant normal people not connected to the entrants would come to their site and vote for their favourite video/photo ... but soon it became apparent the only people coming to their site were friends of the entrants therefor making it a 'who has the most friends wins' comp, which i think is really crap and takes us all back to the school days of popular an unpopular outsiders.

    i havent seen your entry but if its crap and you won because you got lots of friends to vote for you, then again i dont think thats fair .. you might think its a great video but what if your wrong .. just like those aweful singers on x factor that cant believe the judges saying you cant sing .. they have heard from their friends that they are amazing at singing !! ..

    i have no idea why companies continue with voting competitions ... oh yeah i do ... footfall to their site, google results further up the list ...
    and publicity .. good or bad .. its all publicity

    and to those who said 'i wont buy from mercedes now' ... well i cant believe anyone here would ever buy one anyway .. so merc arent loosing anything. people buy a merc because theyre good vans .. people dont buy ford because merc ran a small contest that a few people didnt think was fair ..

    pr companies like mine dont run competitions for fun, they are devices for business... as i believe merc's attitude proves

    if you all think vote competitons are so bad and theres no way you can win without cheating or as i like to call it 'getting creative' with the vote system, then all you have to do is not go in for these competitions!!

    just go in for ones that have judges that decide the best creative entries.

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  49. your still missing the point... it is seriously unfair and a very unhonest way to conduct a competition to allow vote buying, it is not 'being creative with the vote system' it is using underhanded tactics to cheat. If you are from a PR company and believe that sort of business is the way to get what you want then thast probably the reason you have left yourself anonymous!

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  50. As a fellow finalist, I too was unaware of this practice of buying votes. Maybe I'm naive but I would have thought that a company with a reputation such as Mercedes would as a minimum want to act in good faith in running its competitions. I too have sent an email to Mercedes to express my thoughts........

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  51. I have never met Sarah or her family, but I voted for their video because I genuinely thought their video was well-made, creative and funny. A lot of thought went into it. Anonymous, why don't you watch it for yourself before you compare them to the deluded people on the X Factor.

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  52. same here Carole agree with all you just said Sarah's video made me laugh out load and it was the best video on there imo

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  53. "footfall to their site, google results further up the list ... and publicity .. good or bad .. its all publicity"

    "pr companies like mine dont run competitions for fun"

    Sure, fair points - but in the world of PR there must be some clever bods that can think beyond "let's get people to do something creative, then waste that creativity by having a most votes win result".

    Surely you can achieve goals of footfall, PR, Google etc AND run a fair competition? Or is that too complicated?

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  54. I think if you actually watched the video you would realize that Sarahs video is actually a lot better than the peoples who are buying votes anyway! There is a big difference in getting you're friends to vote than actually going to a website and buying votes. Its ridiculous. And do you really think they would of made it to the top ten if their video was ''crap''?

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  55. Voting contests like this are never fair, no matter which way you look at them. If you had won, it would have been because you were able to exploit your online presence, not because your entry was deemed to be the best. Would that have been fair?

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  56. If Mercedes or the PR company in charge had come out from day one and said ' we want people to canvas as many people as possible to our website to look at our new Vito, and the campaign who gets us the most interest wins a new Vito van' then all is fair in using any means necessary. However this was billed as a competition and the ten finalists were chosen on merit by Mercedes to represent the most creative and entertaining entries. Clearly it is then down to each individual to look for support for their video, by telling friends, who tell other friends, and watch the videos and vote for which they like best creating 'footfall' in the direction of Mercedes website, more discussion of Mercedes products etc. But by allowing people to buy votes in hundreds this condones people who have ZERO interest in Mercedes or its products, and more importantly ZERO interest in the quality of the competition entries, and 100% interest in picking up a dirty few pence. Therefore Mercedes and associated PR need to look at this quickly and act upon vote buying unless this whole 'competition' is just a smoke screen to generate publicity, and the creative effort of Sarah and all other finalists is to be undermined by Mercedes and associated PRs.

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  57. None of your examples are fair Sarah. If you and the other contestants had promoted the competition by saying "please choose your favourite entry" instead of "please vote for my entry" then that would have been fair, but I am willing to bet you didn't do that.

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  58. John Spence is missing the point, buying votes is completely unfair, generating support for your own video is bound to happen and that is how public interest is created. But if the voters are nothing more than faceless 'paid' spammers then the whole 'competition' is over, and PR value is zero.

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  59. Ok, so you did say that.

    However you also said "I REALLY need your help" and "So I would truly love for you to support us in this competition, and if you could share this post with any of your friends that would be great too :)"

    And in you pictorial walkthrough demonstrates how to vote for you.

    I am not judging, I am only saying that a competition like this was never going to be fair, unless it was judged on merit alone. It would have been equally unfair on the other competitors if you won because you have a wider audience to canvass.

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  60. I'm not arguing with that. You seem to be skirting my point, which is simply, that voting competitions are not fair by definition. The contest should have been decided on who's entry was best not how many votes the contestants can gather. Whether they be from blog posts, facebook, or the websites you mentioned above.

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  61. I do agree with you John, and do not normally enter voting contests but this appealed due to the creative nature, and was hoping due to the fact that only 10 were picked on merit, it would dwindle out cheats, voting contests dont have to be unfair... they just have to be ran well, X factor and others like it, are voting contests and the contestants rally their own support and promote themselves, as do their friends and family printing Tshirts posters and what not, surely the whole concept of a FAIR voting contests is doing just that ralling support and exposure for your entry. Not buying votes....

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  62. I agree with Johns point that the fairest way would have been for Mercedes to decide upon merit, no doubt. But if everything was decided upon merit then where is the exposure? If as commonly themed throughout this debate X Factor changed its format to Simon Cowell or Whichever judge these days just said 'we have listened to hundreds of thousands of people singing, this is the one we think is the best, thanks.' It would not be the same sort of competition, but still a competition by default. The definition of competition of course is to compete, wether that is to practice harder than others in sport, try harder to gain support than others, put yourself out to rally support and canvas votes, it is all competing. When Competing becomes cheating is when votes are paid for, no competing has been undertaken, someone has sat on their lazy backside and Paid (therefore bribed) someone to vote for them, same as a sportsman bribing the ref, or a quiz show contestant acquiring the answers. Cheating is where the competition no longer is competing, and that I understand is the point Sarah and others make. Paying for votes is unfair and deserves disqualification.

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  63. Here is the last part of one of my messages copied from my karaoke site. I thought i'd add it as it just shows people that even in private messages this is what I was saying:

    On September 11 (9 days ago), you said:

    Dont worry about voting my friend. Its good to know you like the song thats all that matters. Thanks very much for your comment nice to talk to you.

    daz

    (note i dont get comment on vocals its the tune)

    We gained these followers by asking like this not spamming a link telling them to. This man maybe did vote and maybe didnt but I was happy either way and thanked him for looking. I have 5 messages recieved and only one mentions that he will even look at the competition I do not reply and insist they must, the others just say nice tune 50's RNR etc nothing about voting.

    Another message went like this nothing to do with votes even though i would have liked another vote:

    NICE BIT OF BE BOP THERE MATE IS THAT A SLAP BASS I HEAR.

    Move to archive Flag Mark as unread Delete
    XDazX

    online
    On September 10 (10 days ago), you said:

    Yeah the best i could do and hopefully re-created some rnr vibes as i love this kind of music. Glad you liked it

    Surely isnt this just "asking" but also giving them the right to ignore the vote option and just comment and have a talk about it.

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  64. Just as an aside, I would be careful of the wording you use on here. We have all heard about the libel cases brought against people who have posted things on their blogs/twitter etc.

    They are not technically cheats as Mercedes have confirmed that they are within the rules. So I wouldn't call them that if I were you.

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  65. I am unsure if the responce I recieved from mercedes was properly thought out, it seems to be a standard responce they are using... and we are all debating what would be naturally concidered cheating... it does not state in the T&C that buying votes is allowed, it doesn't state that it is not... but then surely thats because thats common sence! it does state in the T&C as another poster pointed out that mercedes can change the T&C's if they wish... so what I would love for them to do is to reassess the T&C's and state that buying votes is not allowed.
    This is why I have brought it to their attention.
    I am not saying that any contestant or mercedes are deffinately cheating I am saying that In my opinion buying votes would class as cheating.. and I am asking what others opinions on this matter is.

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  66. Buying votes is cheating in my opinion, people who practice cheating are therefore cheats, again in my opinion.

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  67. If you are going to pay people to vote, you may as well buy the product, just saying. That sort of person, isn't on a mission to win because he really needs to....he is on a mission to win because its principle. He can win even if he has to cheat to do it so he can be top dog...I bet he was the sort that had to be the best in school as well even if he had to bully his way to be the top dog.
    Disappointing you felt you had to withdraw Sarah, you put a hell of a lot of work into it and its a shame that a big company like that, didn't think that cheating is not against the rules. Quite understand why you have though.

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  68. Over the past few days a number of people have told us about some professional paid-for voting techniques that go against the spirit intended for the Made4thepeople competition. While we look into this, we’re suspending voting for the time being…

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  69. Hope you re enter your video Sarah I really loved it made me laugh so much lol a real winner in my eyes :o) Id of voted for it even if I didnt know you as a Facebook friend

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  70. very sad! how unprofessional a contest can they create?!!

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  71. Hello everyone,

    I've just found this blog after discovering I have been disqualified. I would like to explain my role in this.

    My entry to the competition was "Transport Trauma". I entered the competition in good faith, and was thrilled to be selected for the final 10. Then the voting began. My initial excitement was soon replaced with disappointment when I discovered it wasn't really a public vote, it was about who could get the most people to vote for their entry. So I began canvassing for votes on my Facebook page and trying to get re-tweets on Twitter. My votes were going up, but very slowly. After about a week, two entries were streaking ahead with the votes, Garbage Guy and yours. I couldn't understand how these two entries were gaining so much support when mine and everyone else’s were stagnating.

    So, I did some research and discovered how voting competitions generally work. They are usually won with illegitimate votes. I assumed that both you and Garbage Guy were buying votes, but realise now that in your case it was not true. I was furious to say the least. I read the terms and conditions for the competition but there was nothing forbidding this practice. So, I knew that I was not going to win, but I was not going to let someone who had been buying votes win. I decided, I was going to make sure that I won, but not benefit myself. I hadn't decided exactly what to do, but I was thinking of asking Mercedes to donate the van to a good cause. No-one legitimate was ever going to win the van, so that way at least it would go to someone deserving.

    I hope you understand that my intentions were good. In hindsight, I wish I had done what you did, as I have unintentionally managed to damage my reputation.

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  72. Simon I thank you for coming over here and expressing your reasoning I wonder if Garbage Guy will do the same?
    I understand how easy it is to be dragged into the 'they are so I will' mentality and assume that big organizations will turn a blind eye anyway, but let this be a lesson to everyone, no one is higher than the next the vast majority of the public can always have the final say as long as they stand together to say it. Companies must listen to what the public are saying to get anywhere, and you can generate much more support by sticking to your morals than following along with something you know you shouldn't.

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  73. Thanks Sarah. It wasn't a case of "they are so I will". I t was a case of "they are so I'm going to stop them". You and I had the same intentions, its just that you went about much better than I did.

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  74. We would like to clear up any speculation that the competition Made4ThePeople prize of a new Vito will not be given away. We can assure you that the prize will be honoured to the winner. We also hope that people enjoy voting for the best entry, and that the lucky winner enjoys their wonderful new Vito!

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  75. I'm impressed that Mercedes took the time to investigate this properly...I voted for your entry Sarah because I thought it was good and I believed you were worthy of my vote.
    The fact that I saw this on your Facebook page did not influence my vote because had I watched the video and decided it wasn't my 'cup of tea' then I wouldn't have cast my vote.

    I'm really pleased to see that Mercedes took this matter seriously and hopefully ALL future competitions (not just Mercedes, ALL competitions) will include a clause that excludes vote buying.

    Good luck Sarah and Darren and well done for bringing this to the public domain.
    I certainly had no idea that this vote buying technique was even possible!

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  76. For anyone wondering our new video link is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-qcAMMqGjU

    Whilst we wait for Mercedes to update our link on the competition site so it will play there, you can watch it on the link above if you are looking for it.

    Also our vote button does not seem to work on anything other than Internet Explorer.

    Please only vote for our video if you want to as we all deserve to be in the finals.

    This is a reply to those wishing to vote that are confused in what to do and I hope this helps.

    Darren

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  77. I love your boxer video! I still go back to look at it because it was so creative and would be a great video for commercials. I think it's the best and hope you win. You are a very sweet family

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  78. We have been disqualified so vote for other people please someone deserves to win so pick your favourite.

    I did post once on the get me online votes at the start as I had also no idea where to post. Sarah did state she could rally votes and would do it, but I wanted to do something. I didnt want to swap, just wanted to get my hand in on spreading the word around about our entry, but lol I failed sarahs whole campaign. (Tee hee I hear coming from the backrow)

    I think it totally fair to dissqualify anyone posting asking for votes or whatever and if this is included nvm and I hope you still vote for your favourite remaining entry as everyone is trying hard.


    Good luck Finalists

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  79. Superb idea I had to stop everything to do it and its a perfect solution so listen up guys this is amazing for a solution.

    Everyone wants a fair outcome and Mercedes want to be ultimately fair.

    Van would cost £20,000 so split the money to a seperate prize to each finalist £2,000 each. That way people can donate there prize to charity or pay back the money spent on votes anything they choose. Everyone is happy and Mercedes look the Most fairest of them all. Win win situation and all complaints end full stop from anyone as its a great idea. Everyone wins now how can not be the best solution. Plus it completely dimisses the argument that there is no prize as everyone wins.

    Just a thought but im sick of all the whining and if that would be possible how can anyone say it isnt fair end of.

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