A competition on The Sun website, www.thesun.co.uk, was headed "Win a seven-night family holiday to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida". Further text stated "IMAGINE six fantastic Disney Parks, two exciting night-time entertainment districts and a state of the art sports complex. Add countless opportunities for dining, shopping and recreation and it is easy to see why Walt Disney World is the place where dreams come true. This month, Travel City Direct is coming to the rescue of one special family, giving away the ultimate holiday package to be won to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida … To be in with a chance of winning this magical holiday, just enter our prize draw, below. Competition closes February 28. Full terms and conditions apply". Terms and condition included "6. The prize is a 7 night Disney family holiday to Florida as follows: a. Holiday prize is based on a 2 adults [sic] (aged 18 or over) and 2 children (aged 2-11 years old) travelling only (no other age combinations are permitted)".
The complainant, who had been told she had won the competition but then told she was not eligible for the prize because she wanted to take her sister's children on the holiday, challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.
News Group Newspapers Ltd t/a The Sun (The Sun) said that after the competition closed they called the entrant they believed to be the complainant and asked if they had entered, read and agreed to the terms and conditions, and whether they knew the prize was for two adults and two children only. They said that as a matter of course their competitions team would always first check that the entrant was in compliance with the competition rules before notifying them that they were the winner. They said the complainant confirmed they had entered and agreed to the terms but that they intended to use the prize with her partner only, which was in breach of the terms. The competitions team informed them that they would not be able to participate and the entrant then mentioned that they wished to take their sister's children. The team informed her that they ran lots of competitions that a couple could enter but ran very few family holidays and it would therefore be unfair to give the prize to a couple when the prize was tailored to and aimed at a family. They said that at no point was the complainant informed they had won the competition, and that the contact had been to establish whether they were eligible to be the winner only. They said they had to contact three different entrants of the competition before they found an entrant with a family of two adults and two children in accordance with the rules. Another entrant who was called intended to use the prize as a single person without children. The Sun said that the description of the prize as a "family holiday" would be understood by potential entrants to make clear that the prize was for a family, and not for a couple or an individual. The terms and conditions then clarified how many adults and children could use the prize, and that no other combinations were permitted.
The ASA considered the description of the prize as a "family holiday" and the fact the holiday was to Disney World communicated to entrants that they would be expected to take children on the holiday. This was then clarified in the Terms and Conditions which clearly stated that the prize was based on two adults and two children aged 2–11 years old. We therefore considered it was reasonable for The Sun not to award the prize to entrants who intended to use the prize only as an individual or a couple. However, we understood that the complainant had also asked whether she could take her sister's children on the holiday, and that they were in the correct age bracket. The terms and conditions did not state that only children for whom the entrant had parental responsibility were able to travel. We considered that it was foreseeable that entrants might wish to travel with children from their extended family who were not their own and that if The Sun did not wish to award the prize in such circumstances they should have specified the exclusion in the terms and conditions. We considered that, because the apparent exclusion had not been made clear, the complainant had been caused unnecessary disappointment.
We concluded the promotion breached the Code.
The promotion breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
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.
Geographical, personal or technological restrictions such as location, age or the need to access the Internet. Promoters must state any need to obtain permission to enter from an adult or employer (Sales promotions).
The promotion must not appear again in its current form. We told The Sun to ensure that exclusions were made clear in any future promotions.