Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A Facebook post and website for Raffle House, offering the opportunity to win a house:
a. The post on Raffle House’s Facebook page, seen on 6 November 2018, featured the text “Have you checked out our new play then pay process? Increase your chances to win today, risk free!”.
b. The website www.rafflehouse.com, seen on 7 November 2018, featured the heading “A £5 ticket to your dream home” at the top of the web page. The page then featured a table where visitors could select the number of tickets they wished to purchase and enter the promotion, followed by an image and description of a house. Large text underneath stated “It’s easy. Just answer a simple question. Check out our About section to understand the simple steps to enter”. The page linked on to a section which featured the text “Play Enter the Competition Answer a multiple choice question on world city population within 30 seconds. For example. Which of these cities has the highest population? London Paris Tokyo”.
1. Two complainants challenged whether the promotion was fairly administered, because the method of entry was changed during the promotion.
2. The ASA challenged whether the absence of a prominent closing date in ad (a) was in breach of the Code.
1. Raffle House Ltd said they had sent an email in November 2018 to all of their customers informing them of updates which included a change in their payment process where consumers could now pay for their ticket to be entered in to the prize draw after they had answered a multiple-choice question correctly. Previously, consumers would have to purchase a ticket before answering the multiple-choice question and only correct answers would be entered in to the draw. They also informed customers that they had all been rewarded a free entry to the property competition as well as being entered into a cash-prize giveaway. Both were awarded to all account holders who had created an account with Raffle House before the change in the method of entry.
They said that this created a fair and equitable environment for those customers affected by the change and would avoid any disappointment. They said they had previously received a number of complaints about their process regarding the “pay before play” model and the timed question and that warranted an exceptional circumstance which prompted the change in entry method.
They stated that they aimed to maintain set odds for those entering the competition by setting a threshold of the number of tickets to be sold and they did not intend to sell more tickets than the threshold amount. They explained that the odds for those participants who were awarded a free entry were significantly improved.
2. Raffle House confirmed that ad (a), the Facebook post, did not have any closing date included on it. They said that the post was created to inform their Facebook followers of the change to the payment process and considered that their Facebook followers were already customers who were aware of the closing date. However, they confirmed that in future they would ensure that their closing date was prominently featured on their Facebook posts.
They said that their website included a prominent closing date and each web page had a countdown clock which they considered to be clear. All customers were also required to read and agree to their term and conditions which also contained the closing date.
The CAP Code stated that promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. They must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. The Code also required that promoters should only exceptionally supplement or amend the conditions of entry of prize promotions with extra rules. In such circumstances, promoters must tell participants how to obtain the supplemental or amended rules and they must contain nothing that could reasonably have influenced consumers against buying or participating.
The ASA understood that initially entrants were required to purchase a ticket in order to proceed to answer a multiple choice question. If they answered correctly their ticket would be entered into the prize draw and if they had answered incorrectly they were not entered into the draw and were not refunded their ticket fee. The method of entry was then amended so that entrants only paid for their tickets to be entered into the draw if they answered the question correctly.
We considered the change in the method of entry was likely to have influenced consumers against buying or participating under the rules where they would have potentially paid for a ticket without being entered into the draw. The new method of entry was likely to increase the pool of entries in the prize draw, because those who would otherwise have had their entries rejected by answering incorrectly would be able to make multiple attempts and ensure they answered correctly, thereby being able to enter, and that was unfair to those participants who entered under the original terms. We noted that their terms and conditions referred to a “minimum number of entries” which was set at 150,000 entries paid in cash at the time that the ad was seen. We understood that this minimum number did not include entries credited by a promotional voucher or credit offered by the promoter, so that would not include the free entries offered to those original participants.
We understood that since the change to the entry method was made, Raffle House had awarded existing participants a free entry into the prize draw. We considered that was also unfair to new participants who would have had to pay for each of their entries. We therefore concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly and was in breach of the Code.
On that point ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.2 (Promotional marketing), 8.14 (Administration) and 8.23 (Prize promotions).
The CAP Code stated that all marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions, including a prominent closing date if applicable.
We welcomed Raffle House’s action to include the closing date in all their future Facebook posts. However, we noted that ad (a) did not include the closing date for the promotion at the time it was seen by the complainants. We considered that the closing date was a significant condition that was likely to influence a consumer’s understanding of the promotion and their decision to participate and that it should have been included in the ad. We also became aware during the course of the investigation that the closing date had been extended from June 2018 to June 2019, which we considered to be a further breach of the CAP Code. We therefore concluded that ad (a) was in breach of the Code.
On that point ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.17, 8.17.1, 8.17.4 and 8.17.4.a (Significant conditions for promotions).
We told Raffle House Ltd not to make further changes to the entry method of the promotion and to ensure that in future their promotions were administered fairly and that their ads for promotions included all significant terms and conditions, including a prominent closing date.