The Orchardton Castle Facebook page, seen on 5 February 2018, stated “BUY AN ENTRY AND GET A FREE ENTRY WITH FACEBOOK. Share and like OUR PAGE on Facebook - fill in a form from our site Don’t forget to fill in the question answers [sic]. thank you. https://winacastle.co.uk https://winyourcastle.com https://winacastle.co.uk/step2b.html for form. Please remember it must be a like THE PAGE not post [sic] and a share for a free entry. Good luck everyone!”
Below an image showed the view from a window of a lawn and trees leading to the sea, beneath which large text stated “Win A Castle”. Smaller text underneath stated “win a castle competition. For less than the price of a pizza! £5 per entry. Buy some now before they all go. Win the whole building freehold”.
The complainant, who understood that the prize had been changed to a cash amount, challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.
Susan DeVere t/a Win Your Castle said that they were careful in the way they ran the competition. Everyone was dealt with honourably and there were no justifiable grounds for complaint. They said all property competitions were run in the same way and that the property could not be awarded if there were not enough entries received to clear the mortgage. To award a cash prize that was equivalent to the value of the property was not possible with property competitions, there was no other way to run those competitions.
Susan DeVere t/a Win Your Castle said that there was a free entry method – sending a postcard to the castle – which entrants could use as many times as they wanted, and nobody had to pay any money to enter the competition if they did not want to. Consumers could also win free entries through joining Susan DeVere t/a Win Your Castle's video broadcasts. The ad stated that a free entry was possible by liking the Facebook page, whether or not an entry was bought. They said it was not possible to include all the relevant information in a Facebook post and the ad went through Facebook's screening to ensure that it was not misleading. It was not a Facebook competition and tickets could not be bought through Facebook, only through the website, where the T&Cs were available.
Susan DeVere t/a Win Your Castle said that everything was in their T&Cs and it was made clear that all entrants had to accept that they had read and agreed to them in order to enter the competition. They said their phone number, plus postal and email addresses were available on all sites, and the advertiser was available for entrants to contact them by phone, text or WhatsApp at any time. They also responded through Facebook and people were able to ask questions and comment on the live videos Win Your Castle posted to Facebook throughout the duration of the competition.
Susan DeVere t/a Win Your Castle said that no prizes were withheld and the prize as described was awarded within 30 days. It was made clear from the beginning that if not enough entries were received, the property would not be awarded and a cash prize would be offered instead and it was highly visible on the main website page what those amounts would be. That information was specified on the web page and in the T&Cs. They said that in every TV, radio and magazine interview they conducted, they made clear that a cash prize would be awarded if not enough entries were sold. After the prize draw had taken place the winner was offered a share of the property and a chance to run a business there had they wanted to, which was a goodwill offer unconnected to the competition, but the winner chose to accept the cash prize.
The CAP Code stated that promoters must award the prize as described in their marketing communications or reasonable equivalents, normally within 30 days, and that it must be specified on all marketing communications whether the promoter may substitute a cash alternative for any prize.
We noted that the ad appeared on the Orchardton Castle Facebook page and was titled “Win A Castle” which was accompanied by the text “Win the whole building freehold”. We considered that consumers would understand that the advertised prize was freehold ownership of Orchardton Castle (which the promoter valued between £1.5million and £2.7million).The complainant had entered the promotion in the hope of winning that specific prize and we noted that there was nothing in the Facebook ad which suggested that a cash prize might be awarded instead, nor had we seen evidence that other competition materials, such as the website, included that information in a prominent form.
We noted that the terms and conditions of the promotion stated that there might be circumstances when a lower cash prize might be awarded instead, but that was not made clear in the ad and would, in any case, not have met the Code’s requirement that a “reasonable equivalent” to the advertised prize should be awarded which might be, for example, the value of the property in cash.
We understood that at the end of the competition three cash prizes were awarded at the value of £65,000, £7,000 and £5,000 instead of the advertised prize, because the minimum number of entries had not been reached, and that the advertiser had offered the winner a share of the property. However, we considered that a share of the property or any cash alternative that was less than the value of the property, were not reasonable equivalents to the prize as advertised.
Because neither the advertised prize nor a reasonable alternative had been awarded, we concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly and was in breach of the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 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. 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. 8.15.1 8.15.1 Promoters must award the prizes as described in their marketing communications or reasonable equivalents, normally within 30 days. 8.27 8.27 Withholding prizes (see rules 8.15.1 and 8.28 8.28 Participants must be able to retain conditions or easily access them throughout the promotion. In addition to rule 8.17, prize promotions must specify on all marketing communications or other material referring to them, the following information, clearly before or at the time of entry, where the omission of any of the specified items is likely to mislead. 2) is justified only if participants have not met the qualifying criteria set out clearly in the rules of the promotion. 8.28 8.28 Participants must be able to retain conditions or easily access them throughout the promotion. In addition to rule 8.17, prize promotions must specify on all marketing communications or other material referring to them, the following information, clearly before or at the time of entry, where the omission of any of the specified items is likely to mislead. and 8.28.2 8.28.2 whether the promoter may substitute a cash alternative for any prize (Promotional Marketing)
The promotion must not appear again in its current form. We told Susan DeVere t/a Win Your Castle that they must ensure that they awarded prizes as described in their ads or reasonable equivalents – for example, cash to the same value.