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Advice: Silent Raffle Winner

A few months ago, there was a raffle on a site like to roleplay on. The raffle was hosted by another player who wanted to bring together a bunch of artists/coders/etc, and their services would be the prize for various raffle winners.
I volunteered my services figuring it'd be a fun thing to do(at the time I had little-to-nothing in my art queue, and liked doing free requests). The raffle proceeded, people won, and one of the winners chose me to have their art drawn(as well as characters given by the raffle host).
I advertised 1 free headshot featuring 1 character as the prize(this was posted on the raffle). They asked to put their slot on hold, because at the time they didn't have a character they used a lot and wanted to wait until they did. I agreed to this.
Weeks passed and I had no word from them. After about a month they finally contacted me again, asked if I'd be okay with a certain species with an additional character being in the picture(a plushie). I agreed and asked for reference pictures... they never replied.

Two weeks ago, they finally replied and apologized, saying they had forgotten all about the raffle but wanted to redeem the slot. They wanted to change their previous idea and instead have a two-character headshot.
I've already replied to them and told them I would only do 1 character, and I had only agreed to their first idea because I thought it was only an accessory. It's been a week since then and I have no reply.

I would really like to cancel my services but I don't know how to go about doing so, or if it's okay to do. I feel like I should be able to, because it was a free raffle and no money exchanged hands, but I am also not the host of this raffle. The winner who contacted me received other prizes as well, so it's not like I can contact the host and have their winning status revoked and have a redraw.
How should I proceed? I don't want to have this draw out any longer than it has been, but I don't know if it's tasteless to tell them I've changed my mind and no longer wish to do art for them. Should I stick it out and hope they reply, or cancel and be done with it?

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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2015 12:37 pm (UTC)
I would send them a note saying that you need better communication.
and they need to get you the info within x amount of time since you can't have them sit and take up space in your queue.

If they send you the info then good, but remember to be strict. let's say they send you character A but then later (after the time is up) they rather want character B done - then sorry they didn't say that, they said character A and that is what you have started and will do.
Jul. 5th, 2015 12:46 pm (UTC)
I'd suggest a last warning rather than dropping it "out of the blue". Something along the lines of "I'm sorry, but if you can't decide on a request that fits the parameters of the prize I offered, and provide references, within a week, I have to cancel your slot." Maybe add an explanation that the back and forth and keeping a slot open for a long while is a burden on you or whatever seems appropriate.
Jul. 6th, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC)
I second this!
Jul. 5th, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC)
I agree with the others--I would give them a firm deadline, "I will do a picture for you as I described in the original raffle. I need this information within a week or I will be canceling your slot." Period. It may be a free raffle but that doesn't mean it's not already costing you time and money that could have been put toward other customers!

ETA: It may also be worth dropping a note to the raffle host, just an FYI to cover your own butt, not asking them to step in, in case the winner throws a fit.

Edited at 2015-07-05 03:24 pm (UTC)
Jul. 5th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
You probably don't have a contract with anyone, but the organizer does - the raffle document - and that's typically considered binding even without monetary consideration, so it's up to them to make sure the winner gets what they won. But as others said, it must be within the bounds of what they won. Be nice, but firm! If they want two characters, and you're willing to provide it, they can pay for an upgrade.

P.S. Thanks for posting this! I'm just writing up some detailed promotion (sweepstake/contest) policies for Inkbunny, and I hadn't thought to add "specify the time by which the prize must be claimed".

Edited at 2015-07-05 10:59 pm (UTC)
Jul. 6th, 2015 11:38 am (UTC)
If you want to take the legal route; assuming it is a US-based site, raffles fall under gambling law and it is therefor illegal for most sites to have.

A binding contract cannot exist if it requires one party or multiple parties to perform illegal activity. So the OP has no legal obligations to the person who had the raffle, nor it's winner.
Jul. 6th, 2015 12:16 pm (UTC)
If it's truly a raffle (i.e. a lottery) and a U.S. state is the jurisdiction, then yes, it is illegal. However, many people host "free raffles" which don't meet the definition because they don't involve valuable consideration, and that appears to be the case here: "it was a free raffle and no money exchanged hands".

(There's ongoing legal debate about what constitutes consideration for gambling purposes, and whether it differs from the consideration necessary to enact a contract; to sum up, in the past it was more of a moral issue based on the presence of a prize, chance and (any) consideration, but the trend has been that if there is a means to enter which doesn't involve a transfer of meaningful economic value from the entrant to the promoter, it doesn't count as gambling - even if it does otherwise count for contract purposes - because the public policy goal is to prevent exploitative transfers.)

Bonus note: Jurisdictions love to include you in their lottery laws if people who may enter live there, even if you don't. For example, Quebec charges a percentage of any publicity contest - offered by anyone, anywhere - where the total of prizes exceeds $100, as long as that prize is open to Quebec residents. This is why many sweepstakes exclude Quebec.

Edited at 2015-07-06 12:29 pm (UTC)
Jul. 6th, 2015 02:05 pm (UTC)
The OP says it's a raffle, so unless they clarify otherwise, please stop throwing around legal terms that might make the OP feel obligated where there is no obligation.
Jul. 6th, 2015 02:19 pm (UTC)
The OP said, specifically, that it was "a free raffle and no money exchanged hands", which makes it likely not to be illegal for the reasons I mentioned. I put it in quotes because they said it.

The organizer of the "free raffle" (which appears to have the form of a sweepstakes) has a contract with the winner, and so may have an obligation to them to provide the promised prize, or some other reasonable prize.

The OP said they are not the organizer; as far as I'm aware, they have not been offered or received any consideration for their own offer, and so they're not legally obliged to do anything for anyone.
Jul. 6th, 2015 02:58 pm (UTC)
No money exchanged hands, that is correct; the tickets were not purchased. It was a simple "post here to enter, everyone has an equal chance" thing. I honestly didn't pay much attention to it and only offered art along with a bunch of other artists. All of the artists were volunteers.
If that is illegal though I'll be sure to avoid it in the future; the thought hadn't even crossed my mind when I saw it. :/
Jul. 6th, 2015 03:58 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's illegal, on the grounds that such a posting has no value. If no tangible effort or money was provided by the entrant, it's not gambling.

(This may not be the strict letter of the law everywhere, but it's how those laws have tended to be interpreted in most parts of the USA over the last half-century. I encourage anyone who's insatiably curious about this to read the "ongoing legal debate" link in an earlier comment. It's fascinating stuff!)

Below here is not relevant to this case, just for the interest of readers.

If the organizer had said "text my premium SMS number to enter" it would probably be another matter. That provides a benefit to them, from you, even if it goes via the phone company. Similarly, if they'd said "you have to buy a service from these people who'll give me $10 for every ten people who sign up".

The jury's still out on vague non-monetary cost/benefit, like filling in brief customer surveys, signing up to mailing lists, or posting a journal about the promotion - if you want to do something like that, be sure that the cost to the entrant is trivial. I'd leave an "or you can email me to enter" option open myself.

It also gets complicated when people say "buy this and you'll get a chance to win . . ." - such promotions may be legal, but often require an alternate free method of entry similar to the above. UK law here is different to Canada, which is different to Quebec in Canada, which is different to each state in the USA.

This is what McDonalds has to deal with when they do that game where they "give out" Monopoly pieces with Big Macs - if you read the rules, you'll find you can mail them a self-addressed stamped envelope to get a free game piece without buying anything. (And if you live in Vermont, they have to provide that stamp - by law!)

Funnily enough, you're likely to be fine doing a random drawing to give a past customer a prize - as long as you don't tell anyone about it beforehand; the reason being that they only paid for goods/services, not the chance to win a prize. (If it became known that you do a monthly drawing, that's another matter…)

I spent a couple of days researching this, not two weeks ago, because the issue came up and my site needs to form policies on what you can and can't do, and how to do it. Long story short: if you intend to link a giveaway to the sale of goods or services, or run a contest of skill with a fee for entry; do your own research, be very careful and state that only those people in jurisdictions which you have checked may enter.

Edited at 2015-07-06 04:03 pm (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2015 07:40 am (UTC)
Even so, for there to be a contract, the other party would have to deliver on what is necessary for the deal to go through. As he refuses to give you the information, there is no contract and you are under no obligation, regardless of what other people might tell you.
Jul. 9th, 2015 12:04 am (UTC)
You're 100% right on this!

In contract law OP's situation in this case would be called a Defense of Impracticability
(not a Defense of "Impossibility" like it might seem at a glace. DoImpossibility is pretty similar to DoImpracticability but a little different in the valid reasons/situations, Impossibility is more extreme)

When OP agreed to do art they made a reasonable assumption that winner would provide the needed information for them to complete the art in a timely, usable fashion. That was not provided. (the courts specifically use guideline of "nonoccurrence" being a reasonable assumption when the contract was made- in other words most people assume if someone wants art of something they will tell you what that something is! A second guideline courts use is that all parties of the deal reasonably assumed the difficulty wouldn't happen- ie: the organiser, volunteer artists and people entering never guessed someone wouldn't say the something they wanted drawn and bring the raffle completion to a screeching halt!)

Then the winner demanded a more costly artwork type- if they did that mostly costly art that's a loss of time/production that OP wasn't intending to offer for this prize.
No one gets to change a deal unilaterally so the winner can't do this.

So basically, Op is off the hook on this one for a couple reasons once once they make all reasonable(the law loves that word...) efforts to fulfill their pat of the deal.

If OP was asking me specifically for advice, I'd say what others advised- give the winner a week or 72 hours to give you the needed reference material for a one character headshot(possibly with accessory as you previous agreed to do). If no info comes from the winner wash your hands of it and move on. No harm, no foul.
Jul. 10th, 2015 01:20 am (UTC)
Thank you for the advice and legal info! c:
The winner has replied within the time frame and given the character reference, so I consider the issue cleared up.
However, because of the posts here I've decided to avoid raffles raffles hosted by others in the future. If a similar situation arises in the future, I'll be sure to tell the person that they must give me info within a week or their slot is cancelled.
Jul. 6th, 2015 05:21 am (UTC)
if you offered a one-character commission, then that's what they get. They can't just request to change it to a two-character piece if the prize was for one character. You don't get to ask for two pies when you win one pie.

I would perhaps ask the person who held the raffle if it would be okay for the winner to pick another artist instead (it sounded like there were more than one artist the winner could choose from?) and if it's okay, then ocontact the client and say something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, I'm unable to offer my services at this time. I spoke with [person who held raffle] and they said it's fine if you contact another one of the artists to draw your piece instead."

Otherwise, it's a hard situation since you're not financially obligated to complete the work, and thus have nothing to 'refund', but I feel it would be a violation of the raffle you volunteered your services to if you backed out without offering the winner some other way to redeem their prize.
Jul. 6th, 2015 03:26 pm (UTC)
I could probably try asking the host but since it's been months, I wouldn't know what to expect.
The winner in question replied yesterday though; they seem to be in favor of the upgrading option that is mentioned above. If they fall out of contact again and break ignore deadlines then I'll probably be forced to contact the host.

I agree on the situation bit; during the month's silence with this person, I had two other people who went silent(auction winners). I simply refunded them and moved on but somehow not being financially obligated made this a trickier situation.
Jul. 6th, 2015 05:10 pm (UTC)
I hope it works out. Upgrades can be a good way to "monetize" giveaway promotions. As long as they're kept as two separate transactions - guaranteed low-value prize, optional paid upgrade - there shouldn't be any issues with lottery-related laws.

If they get what they want and you get paid, everybody wins! :-)
Jul. 6th, 2015 11:24 am (UTC)
If they can't play by your rules, they don't have to play at all. Give them 1 last chance to give suitable reference for 1 character and if they don't, they forfeit their prize.

Frankly they sound a little spoiled.
Jul. 6th, 2015 04:32 pm (UTC)

I did a group raffle, and was very clear with my terms, but I was not aware my exact wordings were not posted, and the winner kept trying to get in via loop holes, and peer pressure from the other artists made me accept the rule bending.

Just flat out cancel, even if people get upset. The work was NOT paid, and the user is not following your rules and making it harder for you to draw their prize. They should have known when they entered what they wanted.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


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