The complaint challenged a prize promotion on homeraffler.com as seen on 30 June 2017, which featured a raffle offering participants the chance to win a luxurious London home at £5 a ticket.
A link to the competition’s terms and conditions (T&Cs) was provided towards the bottom of the webpage.
The complainant, who worked in a compliance role, challenged whether the competition breached the competition regulator’s code for failing to include a closing date in a prominent position, not making sufficiently clear that a cash substitute prize applied, and neglecting to make clear that the property would be awarded at the promoter’s discretion.
The ASA investigated the compliant, and upheld all three challenges.
The CAP Code requires promoters to provide a “prominent” closing date for entry submissions, and states that promoters can’t change closing dates for promotions unless “unavoidable circumstances beyond their control made it necessary.”
In response to the challenges, homeraffler.com amended the ad’s homepage to include the closing date, and provided a link to the T&Cs on the top of the homepage.
However, while the ASA said it “welcomed” the alterations, it nevertheless upheld the challenge – as the promoter hadn’t disclosed a prominent closing date in the initial advertisement, and as the T&Cs allowed the competition to be extended by up to six months, or close early depending on the amount of paid entries received.
Under the CAP Code, promoters have to award prizes as described in the ad or provide reasonable equivalents, and requires that promoters clarify in the ad whether prizes could be substituted by cash alternatives.
Homeraffler responded to the challenge by saying that if insufficient funds were received at the draw’s closing, it was in their discretion whether to award the property, or give the remaining funds to the winner after deducting 15% for administrative expenses and marketing fees.
The ASA upheld the challenge, saying that a cash prize after applicable deductions “was not a reasonable equivalent to a ‘luxurious London home”.
In addition, the ASA said that the promoter had breached the code for omitting the possibility of a cash substitute from its original ad.
The third challenge claimed that homeraffer.com breached the CAP Code for failing to disclose a “significant condition” to the promotion – because the T&Cs allowed the promoter discretion on whether to award the property depending on funds received.
The ASA upheld the complaint, as it considered this a significant condition to the promotion, and noted that no such information was present in the ad.
Following the ASA rulings, homeraffler.com has altered its homepage.
“In accordance with rules and regulations and due to situations out of our control surrounding card payment merchants, we have had to make some significant changes to our prize draw,” read updated website.
“We are confident we have adhered to all rules and regulations,” said a spokesperson for Homeraffler.
“We remain strongly focussed in making this prize draw a success.”
Previously, Mortgage Solutions has reported on house raffles, with the Gambling Commission warning in August that house raffles may fall foul of gambling rules, and a raffle for a £1.25m London home was shut down by the local council in May.