A web-page advert stated, "SAVE £10 ON YOUR NEXT HAIR OR BEAUTY APPOINTMENT WITH WAHANDA.COM". Text below said, "Stylist has teamed up with leading health and beauty site, Wahanda.com, to offer you £10 off your next spa or salon booking". The terms and conditions stated, "Full terms and conditions can be found at wahanda.com/info/terms-of-use/". Various conditions of the promotion were then listed.
MoneySavingExpert.com and three complainants challenged whether the promotion had been conducted fairly because the promoters had added a minimum spend requirement while the offer was ongoing.
Hotspring Ventures Ltd (Hotspring Ventures) said the minimum spend requirement was applied to the promotion because, ten days in, MoneySavingExpert.com had also advertised the offer on their own website as a "free manicure". They said that had resulted in a large increase in orders and, although the promotion was limited to one person per transaction, they believed some consumers had created multiple e-mail addresses to claim multiple free treatments. They considered that approximately 30% of orders were the result of fraudulent activity and they did not have the resources to manually identify or cancel those fraudulent purchases. They said they were not given the opportunity to approve the wording on MoneySavingExpert.com's website. They pointed out that, prior to the "free manicure" ad on MoneySavingExpert.com, the promotion had run smoothly. They added that, during that time, some consumers had made purchases for treatments costing less than £10 and received them for free. They said they honoured all orders they believed to be legitimate and had immediately notified both MoneySavingExpert.com and Stylist Magazine before the change was made.
Shortlist media Ltd (Stylist Magazine) said that the minimum spend requirement was applied to the offer and published on MoneySavingExpert.com's website without their approval. They explained that they had subsequently amended the conditions of the promotion on their website to reflect the change.
The ASA acknowledged that Hotspring Ventures had maintained that they had experienced fraudulent consumer activity during the promotion and had considered that this generated a need for a minimum spend requirement to be applied. We also noted that Hotspring Ventures did not have the opportunity to review the wording used on MoneySavingExpert.com’s ad, for which they provided documentary evidence. However, MoneySavingExpert.com provided documentation to show that the offer was originally communicated to them as a “free” beauty treatment promotion. We observed that the original offer had allowed consumers to claim beauty treatments costing less than £10 for free. We considered that the promotion was likely to be popular and noted that Hotspring Ventures maintained they did not have adequate resources available to control the possibility of fraudulent activity. Nevertheless, because we considered that the change to the conditions of the offer was significant and likely to cause unnecessary consumer disappointment, we concluded that the ad was misleading and the promotion did not deal fairly with participants.
The competition breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 8.2 8.2 Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. (Sales promotions) and 8.14 8.14 Promoters must ensure that their promotions are conducted under proper supervision and make adequate resources available to administer them. Promoters, agencies and intermediaries should not give consumers justifiable grounds for complaint. (Administration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Hotspring Ventures Ltd and Stylist Magazine not to change significant conditions of promotions while they were ongoing.