A competition on www.travelrepublic.co.uk required entrants to film themselves packing a suitcase with 20 selected items in the quickest possible time for the chance to win flight tickets.
A complainant, who understood that the closing date for the competition had been extended from 3 July 2015 to 10 July 2015, challenged whether the promotion had been administered in accordance with the Code.
Travel Republic said after the competition opened, they realised that some of the rules for entering were not as explicit as they perhaps should have been, which resulted in confusion from some entrants as to which entries should or should not be allowed. They acknowledged that extending the closing date was far from ideal and they apologised for that, but they considered it made it fair to all entrants to do so. They made the rules more explicit and contacted existing entrants by the means through which they had entered, by Twitter-messaging them or, for those who entered on Facebook prior to the extension, by posting a comment on their entry informing them of the change, which they would receive when logging on to their Facebook account. They also put up a notice on the "blog" section of their website and included a link to it when they contacted existing entrants.
The CAP Code stated that closing dates must not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the promoter's control made it necessary and participants were not disadvantaged. In this case, Travel Republic extended the closing date part-way through the competition after changing the terms and conditions of entry. The new terms stated that the timer needed to be started by the person taking the challenge and that each item needed to be seen going into the suitcase. While we understood that they had done so because they felt the original terms were unclear, we noted that the terms and conditions of a promotion were in the advertiser's control and we considered Travel Republic ought to have foreseen before starting the promotion the problems that could arise. Therefore, we did not consider that the extension of the closing date arose from unavoidable circumstances beyond the advertiser's control. In addition, we considered some participants who had taken part under the original terms and conditions would have found themselves in breach of the amended terms and conditions, and thus needing to enter again if they wanted to comply with them. They might also find themselves competing against a larger pool of entrants due to the extended deadline.
Because we considered the extension of the closing date had not arisen from unavoidable circumstances beyond the advertiser's control, and that some participants who had taken part under the original terms and conditions could have been disadvantaged, we concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly and was in breach of the Code.
The promotion breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
All marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead. Significant conditions or information may, depending on the circumstances, include:
How to participate
How to participate, including significant conditions and costs, and other major factors reasonably likely to influence consumers' decision or understanding about the promotion and 8.17.4.e 8.17.4.e Closing dates must not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter make it necessary and either not to change the date would be unfair to those who sought to participate within the original terms, or those who sought to participate within the original terms will not be disadvantaged by the change. (Sales promotions).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Travel Republic Ltd to ensure that closing dates were not extended unless unavoidable circumstances beyond their control made it necessary and participants who sought to participate within the original terms were not disadvantaged by the change.