A promotional email for Ladbrokes, received on 19 July at 12:31, had a subject line that stated “Don't miss your exclusive Free Bet offer”. The body of the email stated “Bet on football and we’ll give you a free bet! …Place a bet of £10+ on ANY Football (1/2+) For a £10 Free Bet to use on Football*”.
The complainant, who was unable to place their £10 free bet as they were ineligible for the promotion, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 8.1 and 8.2 (Promotional marketing).
Ladbrokes Betting & Gambling Ltd t/a Ladbrokes stated that the complainant’s stakes were restricted on 17 July, and that they were no longer eligible to benefit from promotional offers from that time onwards. An account message was sent to the complainant at 09:45 on 19 July to inform them that they were no longer eligible for promotions, and Ladbrokes provided a copy of their record of this.
They stated that after a customer was made ineligible, there could be a time lag of up to 72 hours for all systems to be updated with the relevant information. As the promotional email in question had been sent out within this period, the customer’s data had not yet been updated and the offer was sent to them in error.
Ladbrokes said that it was regrettable that the customer had received an email for an offer that they were not eligible for. They stated that they had measures in place to try to prevent instances like this from occurring. Prior to sending out promotional offers, they cleansed the data used by the marketing team to remove those account holders who were no longer eligible for such offers. However, due to the 72-hour delay, the complainant’s data had not yet been updated at the time the email was sent. They said that the complainant had now been placed on a list to prevent them from receiving any further promotional marketing materials.
The ASA noted that the promotional email was targeted directly to the complainant, addressed them by name and referred to “your exclusive Free Bet offer”, and that they would therefore have expected to be able to take advantage of the £10 free bet offer. We understood, however, that the complainant was ineligible to receive the free bet as their stakes had been restricted two days previously. We acknowledged Ladbrokes’ explanation that the email had been sent in error as there was a potential 72-hour time lag between restrictions being placed on a customer’s account and the system being updated with those details. We also understood that they had sent a message to the complainant stating that they were no longer eligible for promotional offers earlier on the same day the email was sent. However, the content of the email, and the fact that the complainant had received a targeted and exclusive offer, suggested that they would be eligible to receive the free £10 bet, in contradiction of any information they may have received about restrictions on their account. Therefore we concluded that the ad was misleading. Furthermore, as the complainant was not eligible to take advantage of free bet offers at the time that they received the email, we considered that the ad would have caused unnecessary disappointment, and that Ladbrokes had not dealt fairly with the complainant.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 8.1 8.1 Promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions. and 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. (Promotional marketing).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Ladbrokes Betting & Gambling Ltd to ensure that they do not send promotional marketing materials to customers who are ineligible to take advantage of promotions, in order to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.