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Micro Fines Policy

Home > Dates and Fees > Fees > No Further Fees > Microfines Policy
This page gives facts about A' Design Award & Competition's take on Micro Fines as well as introduces you to your Right to be Forgiven, one of our ethos for doing good by designers.

Micro Fines
When there are issues with your texts or images that if not attended would create you a problem, or if would create us a problem, or if they would reduce your design score or if such issues would reduce the perceived quality of your designs or its presentation or reduce the quality of the awards itself, and if there is an opportunity to fix or reduce such issues, under normal circumstances we would manually intervene and do our best to fix your design presentations (but not the designs) as long as such changes would not alter the designs themselves.

If we make a manual intervention and if we do make any changes, we would also charge you for micro fines. Albeit these micro fines are usually quite small and could no way hurt you, they are like a fly in the soup, they are small but still disgusting, and we really hate them.

Automated Corrections and Enhancements
Automated Corrections and Enhancements settings gives you full control over what type of changes we could do, or whether we should not make any changes at all, effectively helping you avoid micro fines and penalties.

We really do not want to charge you any micro fees and penalties, as it hurts us more than you could imagine; not only we make you unhappy, making you unhappy makes us very uncomfortable and makes us question our goals of promoting good design. We want to make you happy, and we want to do it in a fair way.

As part of our transparency policy, we have build this page which explains major issues that could result in micro-fines; learn what these issues are, what we charge for, why we charge it and how much we charge for. We especially build this page to address past issues as well as to avoid future issues: we want you to know that we have taken positive action towards organizing a more fair and higher quality competition by creating the special Automated Corrections and Enhancements settings that you can fully control.

You are in charge of your destiny about these micro fines. You can completely disable all Automated Corrections and Enhancements such that you would never, ever receive any micro fines with respect to issues noted below or you could request us to reduce, cancel or nullify such fees. Let’s have a look at the most common issues, what they are, why they are bad and what we do, and why we fix them at the bottom of this page, but before that please allow us to introduce one more concept Right to Be Forgiven.

Right to be Forgiven
The Right to Be Forgiven, is indeed a very interesting bylaw we had created and incorporated to our ethics and social good guidelines but not noted in our terms and agreements to avoid abuse. The Right to Be Forgiven allows you to request reduction, cancellation or nullification of any micro fines or penalties that might be registered under your account, up to three (3) times in a five year period; and our support staff and help desk, is highly suggested to reduce, cancel or nullify any negative account credits due to micro fees and penalties upon your request when you remind them you want to use your Right to Be Forgiven. Please kindly note that the support team and help desk is not obliged or required by law to reduce, cancel or nullify any fees or penalties, and will help you at their sole discretion, however we especially introduced the Right to Be Forgiven as a concept in our methodology, so that you know there is this possibility, and of course our support staff and help desk also knows that indeed we have this philosophy of doing good by the designers. We have especially created the Right to Be Forgiven ethos as part of our philosophy, in our goal to be the World’s most ethical and fair design competition and awards programme, and we will do our best to help you. In the end, even if you get charged, get fined, get a penalty, don’t worry. Contact us and we will do our best to help you cancel, reduce or nullify any micro fees and penalties.


1) Incompliant Images

What is It? Issues with visuals that we could fix with manual intervention without changing the designs themselves such as weird borders, images uncentered to canvas, images that could benefit from simple enhancements such as color levels, brightness and contrast adjustments, sharpening or blurring.

Why is it Bad? Issues with images could normally result in disqualification or elimination of entries for two reasons; first low-quality images would result in a negative bias towards your design during voting of your entries, and we would want to reduce or cancel out such bias to ensure your design is evaluated the right way and receives all the positive votes that it truly deserves, second of course low-quality images are not compliant with our entry guidelines. Entry guidelines are important to ensure a set level of quality for the award at large; to ensure the yearbook, exhibitions and online presentations look good and high quality, as you deserve. To make sure your presentations look good and high quality, images that are incompliant with guidelines are marked automatically for elimination; but we do not eliminate your work, instead we try to fix their presentation if we can, and if doing so would not change the essence of your work; but we should not have to do it; it is your responsibility to ensure your work is presented correctly, but also on the other hand we understand that you might not know about the presentation guidelines or you might not have all the tools or skills to fix visuals in a perfect way as noted in guidelines, and we further understand and value your investment of time and resources you invest for taking part in the competition, therefore we do not want to let designs with bad images get downvoted or eliminated, and instead we want to fix their presentation. Fixing design presentations requires a lot of time, we have to download all images, if there are issues with resolutions or file types we try to convert them, then we hire a graphics designer to fix and introduce color science; fixing brightness, contrast or light levels. Fixing images take time and cost resources, and is absolutely unsustainable and not economically feasible if we do not charge micro fines that could cover them, but as you understand these micro fines are required for your own good as well as for the award itself to keep its quality. But of course, the micro fines makes people sad, angry, shocked and frustrated, because nobody likes to be fined. Therefore, we have come up with a setting in control panel that allows you to decide what we should do when we and if your entry's presentation is not compliant with guidelines or if it might benefit from enhancements. Control your Automated Corrections and Enhancements now.


2) Incompliant Design Name and/or Function

What is It? Issues with design names and primary functions that we could fix without changing the context such as fixing typographic errors, omitted letters, wrong pronunciation, inconsistent naming, unicode characters as well as names that could create ambiguity, confusion, technical or legal issues such as trademarks.

Why is it Bad? Your design name and the primary function you indicate is highly important since jurors vote your entries based on the context you provide and press members would later feature your designs based on the meanings you attach to your work; if you name an object wrongly or if its function is not denoted correctly, your work could be downvoted, plus you risk your design not to get the press features it truly deserves. You might say and argue that just a simple name cannot have any significant effect, you would be wrong; there is a whole industry dedicated to naming products and businesses; names matter. On the technical side, we have some restrictions on the name and primary function texts you provide, these guidelines and restrictions were put in place to ensure your work could be promoted easier; for example; certain content syndication networks, press release distributors and online publicity platforms do not let us type certain reserved keywords, texts or characters. If your design name includes any reserved or special characters, we are obliged to remove them to ensure successful promotion. Finally, weird or incorrect naming could create issues when we prepare and print your yearbooks, exhibition posters and online showcase pages; bad names and incorrectly noted functions not only make your own design’s presentation look not good, but reduces the overall quality of the whole awards, and thus undesirable neither for you nor for others. In some cases, the name errors are so big that if we do not fix the names, we cannot potentially print or publish the designs, and in some rare cases bad names could even call for a disqualification, such as incorporation of trademarks, and badly noted functions could put off press members or potential customers that check your designs. When we come up with an entry that has issues with naming and primary function, we try our best to fix them, if we fix any issues, this takes our time and attention, plus it costs us resources, and therefore we would issue micro fines, in this case, mostly as a deterrent. We understand that most of the time, those who get fined get sad, frustrated and disappointed, and but please know that fining you for bad naming and wrong function notation, does not create us any financial benefits, but it benefits you and all others who take part, it ensures your design could gets voted and not disqualified, and when voted gets voted correctly, and if awarded get published better and of course also to ensure that the overall quality of the competition is high and its perception is good. Yet again, we acknowledge that this might not make sense to you personally, and we respect your opinion. To give you full control, we have created Automated Corrections and Enhancements settings where you can indicate your preferences on what we should do, if we believe your design name and function has issues


3) Incompliant Yearbook Descriptions

What is It? These are mostly grammatical errors, typos, mistakes, omitted text, badly structured paragraphs and in rare cases, lorem ipsum, filler or dummy text, or weirdly translated text provided for yearbook descriptions that we could try our best to rephrase, restructure and fix after manual intervention.

Why is it Bad? Designers, press members and jurors as well as potential clients read the yearbook descriptions as it is the summary of what your design is about. Your yearbook description must be coherent, it must make sense. When the yearbook description does not make sense, when it is left empty, or when it is just outrageous or nonsensical (perhaps due to automated translation), this creates a huge negative impact on the perceived value of your own design project as well as that of the whole design competition. Therefore, whenever we could, we try our best to fix any issues with the yearbooks, we remove any incorrect text, if there is lorem ipsum, filler or dummy text provided we try to make a yearbook text from design inspiration and unique properties texts you provided by combining your own sentences if we could, and if there are special characters or newlines, we remove them to ensure your design posters and yearbook pages could be prepared and printed correctly, we try to fix any typos, typographic errors and mistakes whenever we could, and we try to simplify the text so that it could be translated to other languages for further promotion if we can, and in cases where the text does not comply with editorial guidelines, we try to rephrase the text so that it is molded into third person perspective, these all fixes and issues allow press members to easily take your text and feature you, plus it also makes sure that no one laughs, pauses, or gets confused when reading your text. Again, we understand that it is very unhappy to have your text fixed, but not doing so would decrease the value of the design award you had won; not fixing your text would be malicious compliance which would result your own yearbook pages, design profiles, posters to reduce in value, plus it would indeed reduce value for all participants as it would look unprofessional and without quality. We understand that it makes you sad, angry, aggravated and disappointed, especially if we fine you for fixing these issues. However, we have to do it, especially if we respect your work; but we cannot keep doing it if we do not issue micro fines; fixing yearbook descriptions, especially repairing structure or rephrasing requires a lot of attention to ensure the meaning does not diverge from its original, again there is a whole industry dedicated to providing meaningful and correct texts; copywriting; and it’s hard, it is even harder when we get harsh responses for fixing your text. To the point that some designers said that they would rather let us publish their yearbooks without any text than paying the fine; that we were very unfair, while we understand the frustration, let’s all be honest to ourselves, we all want to have the same thing, we want to make sure your yearbook page, your design poster and your design presentations look good and correct, so that your audience such as prospective clients, design enthusiasts and press members who view your work, does not get put off. All that being said, we understand your views as well, thus rest assured that you are in complete control. You can edit your settings and preferences for Automated Corrections and Enhancements and tell us what should we do in cases when your yearbook descriptions have issues.


4) Certificate Issues

What is It? Issues that relate to the way your design award winner certificates are displayed, printed and presented, mostly due to incorrect certificate type choices or incorrect input for designer name or team member details that we could manually intervene and fix.

Why is it Bad? Improper choice of certificate type or improper input for designer name or team members section could result in unusable, unpresentable, really bad looking design award certificates that do not make sense; improper certificates cannot be used to neither convince clients, nor could be displayed proudly and in some cases they cannot be even used as a proof of achievement. You know there is an issue with your certificate when there are too many names in a certificate such that two thirds of the certificate being just a list of names, when nicknames of designers are included, when four designers with the exact name and surname is listed one under another, when names are written “LIKE SO” – all caps, “LiKe sO” – mixed case or written “like so” -lowercase but should have been written “Like So” – Proper Case or Title Case, when the names include descriptions of professions or job titles or the parts of the design that was done by the team members, when two or multiple names merge into one single long name or when one name becomes two or more lines, when just a name is there but without a surname, when your name is so long that it needs to be manually designed to look good on a certificate, when the certificate becomes two, three pages, due to whatever you typed for team members section; these are some but unfortunately true cases which we see almost every year. No matter if you plan to retrieve your winner kit or not, we prepare design award certificates for all the participants, for all entry types, shortly after results announcement; we print these certificates on nice papers, we frame them or put them into folders, they are ready for retrieval. During printing and packaging, we take our time to check and see if your certificate looks good or if it looks improper, instead of just printing improper certificates as they are, we go back, and manually prepare you a new certificate or many new certificates (such as one certificate for each your team members) that you all could proudly present to clients, use to convince prospects and as a reminder of your achievement. We understand that this all could make you angry, sad, frustrated and disappointed that not only we alter whatever you had chosen but we also charge you a micro fine for fixing the certificates; but if we don’t fix the certificates, it is an even worse situation, and if we don’t charge at least for the labor involved, the procedure of fixing certificates becomes unsustainable, and in the end we all lose. That being said, we understand if you want to be in fully control of what we could do or not do with the certificates, and we respect your opinion. If you do not want us to fix any issues with your certificates please update your settings and preferences for Automated Corrections and Enhancementsas soon as possible.


5) Designer Name Issues

What is It? Issues with the names and surnames designers provide for their publicity campaigns that require imminent attention to ensure yearbooks, exhibition posters, certificates, designer presentations, press releases and winners’ announcements could be prepared without any issues.

Why is it Bad? First of all there are several types of bad; one important type of bad is a legal issue; basically A’ Design Award has several account types; these account types are designed such that students pay less than design professionals, design professionals pay less than large design agencies, and design agencies would pay less than enterprises; it is a positive price discrimination model where students and design professionals are subsidized with lower fees to the expense of enterprises and large corporations; we believe it’s all good till this point. The issue is when an enterprise or large design agency pays a professional fee (professional fee costs less than enterprise fee or agency fee), and then decides they will use their company name instead for certificates, yearbooks, posters, press releases and winners’ announcements, not only this is legally considered fraud, against our terms and agreements but of course it is cheating and is not allowed, the most important issue is that it is hurtful to the competition since making big companies pay more money and making design professionals pay as less money as possible is the ethical way to go. Now we understand some designers and professionals get very angry and could state they did not know such a thing, so that they should not be charged, but we remind that not only we write this everywhere but we usually cancel any such fees when designers send us a letter; we just don’t want this to be a repeat behavior. That being said, when we see an Account Type and Designer Name mismatch; such as Enterprise name provided but professional account entry fees paid, then we either fine you for the difference of fees or alternatively we would fine you a micro fee for fixing your name (for example by means of replacing company name with individual name we have in record) such that your Account Type and Designer Name becomes coherent. Second issue is when designers really make a mistake and they mistype their own names; believe it or not this happens; there are also cases where the name is in ALL CAPS, all lowercase, or sOmE MiXeD Case but the name should always be in Title Case, plus there are issues when there are numbers in a person’s name, if name contains nicknames (nicknames not allowed), if name contains titles like Lord, Sir, Ph.D (titles not allowed) for name and should be put to titles section instead, if name is left empty, and it happens, if name is not a name (such as some other text that was mistakenly copy pasted or provided: example: my design is… or confusing design name with designer name etc), when name contains special characters or foreign characters (latin1 character set required since the names must be distributed via content syndication) and many other issues that in summary results in a catastrophe; your name is probably one of the most important elements of your presentation; your bookpage, your exhibition poster, your profile; imagine if we did not care and just went with it; published it wrongly or badly formatted. We understand that it could make you sad or disappointed if we fix your name and charge you, sometimes even making trivial corrections by making your name Title Case, and in some other cases, almost like a detective by finding the name you forget to mention from your invoice, or sometimes by removing weird square characters that resulted due to characters type errors; we share your pain, however as a deterrent, as well as to actually assign people and staff who would double check that your names are correct, we do charge for such corrections. What could make you happy at this point is to know the fact that you can update your settings and preferences for Automated Corrections and Enhancements and control what action we would take if we see your Designer Name has an issue, either legal or technical.


6) Custom Duties and Fees

What is It? Issues caused by designers not happy with the fact that A' Design Award has accepted or paid custom duty fees for participants, within the threshold as noted in the exhibition participation page as well as issues caused by not properly indicating the commercial value of exhibition items.

Why is it Bad? Custom fees can be avoided by simply telling the truth when designers are sending us their works by indicating on the package and by making a special customs declaration the works are for exhibition purposes only and do not have commercial value (and preparing a proforma invoice with low value since in the end we do not buy these items anyways); instead some designers write tens of thousands of euros as the worth of their designs, mostly for insurance issues, and in many cases, designers note arbitrary values for the items (like a few hundred euros, whatever their design would sell for instead of noting the item is not for sale and is for exhibition only) yet no matter what purpose, the result is that custom fees are then calculated based on these inflated commercial values indicated and become high. We do not want to pay for inflated custom fees, but in some cases designers write us a letter that they promise to pay these fees since it is important for them to have their works join the exhibition, but then once we pay these fees, and after exhibition, and in an unfortunate number of cases all we got is radio silence; so what we do? we add these custom duties we paid as negative account credits and ask the designers of the objects to pay for them instead. Furthermore, instead of outright rejecting all packages to avoid such no-pay issues, we accept customs and duty fees and pay for retrieving your packages as long as the fees do not exceed a certain threshold as noted in Exhibition Participation page, without even asking you (especially if works are expected to arrive only a few days prior to exhibition starts, or when the duty fees are actually quite low) so that your works could make it to the exhibition without any issues, however what we got in return? We are told that we should not have accepted the custom fees and we should have returned the packages back instead. Now, we think this is quite not sincere for most cases, while we understand that for some designers not paying custom fees and saving money could be of importance, there is no logic or sense to it, at least from our own perspective, when you look at it in detail; the custom fees we pay usually cost more or less equal to shipping fees (so returning any packages would cost more or same as the custom fees, it is a net loss for designers if we return their packages), plus there is a value in paying the custom fees so that your work could be retrieved from courier and get included in the exhibition, plus these custom duties and fees do not exceed a certain low threshold as noted in exhibition participation page (mostly small fees, small enough to counter not being in exhibition) so we do honestly do not understand how not paying custom fees, especially when they are under a certain threshold, and then paying equal or more fees to return the packages to you, creates value is beyond our understanding, but that does not change the fact that we should take what you say for granted and outright respect your choice on the subject matter. We respect you, and to help you with that we have also noted these issues in Automated Corrections and Enhancements tools, you can indicate what we should do when there is a customs fee, this way you join safely, knowing exactly what you want to happen will happen the way you want it to happen.


After using the Automated Corrections and Enhancements tools and settings, if you still get into trouble with these micro fines and penalties just Contact Support, the fees and fines we impose here are not to make money out of you, and they hurt us more than they hurt you, and we are willing to take positive action to reduce, postpone, cancel or nullify them as much as we could, just get in touch, and keep it easy; know that we really care deeply about you.


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The A’ Design Award & Competition, values you and your good design. We have a solid no further fees policy, and we are very transparent about risks in joining design competitions.  

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