A firm of solicitors has been told not to repeat a mortgage prize draw promotion.
Ross Coates Solicitors of Ipswich had displayed a text box on its website which stated “Do you want your mortgage paid for a year? Enter our Mortgage FREE Prize Draw!”.
The complainant challenged whether the mortgage prize draw was genuine, because she maintained that she had not been entered into it and was not provided with details of the competition on request, such as the names of the winners and the closing date.
Ross Coates Solicitors stated that they launched the prize draw on 1 October 2011 and closed it on 1 May 2012 and the draw was made on 1 June in accordance with the terms and conditions.
They provided the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) with a copy of the terms and conditions, which included those dates. They provided a copy of the letter to the winner and said the full details of the draw were published on their website. They added that further information could have been obtained, along with the full terms and conditions, by contacting their quotes department by phone and said the number was included on the website. They said all entrants who qualified for the draw were also sent the full terms and conditions. They said they were not required to make public the winner of the competition.
They said that they were trying to obtain a screenshot of the website, which would show, for example, the terms and conditions or the details of the draw, but had ended their contract with their IT company in April 2012 and it was proving difficult.
The ASA understood that the complainant had first seen the ad in July 2012 and had subsequently engaged the company to provide her with services in relation to three conveyances, which she considered should have entitled her to three opportunities to be entered into the draw.
Although the ASA acknowledged that the terms and conditions provided in response to the investigation stated that the prize draw had closed on 1 May 2012 it understood, however, that the complainant maintained the claim “Enter our Mortgage FREE Prize Draw!” was still appearing on the home page in July 2012 and did not state the closing date.
It also understood that the complainant maintained that she had not seen the terms and conditions and believed they had not been available on the website.
The ad watchdog noted that the advertisers had provided a letter dated 6 June to a client, in which the client was asked to contact the advertisers to claim his prize. However, the ASA had not seen any additional supporting documentation or details about the prize draw, such as paperwork documenting the acceptance of the prize by the client or any other paperwork documenting the administration of the prize promotion draw and giving the prize. It therefore considered that it had not seen sufficient evidence of the administration and results of the prize draw to show that the prize promotion was genuine.
The complainant maintained she had not been provided with details of the competition on request, including who had won the prize, and noted that the advertisers considered they were not required to make public the winner of the competition. However, the ASA also noted that the Code required that prize promotions must specify how and when information about winners and results would be made available and that advertisers should make available on request the name and county of major prize winners.
The ASA therefore considered the promotion was in breach of the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 8.1, 8.2 (Sales promotions) and 8.28.5 (Prize promotions).
The solicitors were told that the claims must not appear again in their current form and to ensure they held evidence to support their claims.