An online competition by Travel Republic has been found to break the code by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The 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.
However the complainant contacted the regulators after noticing that the closing date had been extended from 3 July 2015 to 10 July 2015.
An investigation was carried out to see if the competition followed the rules set out by the CAP Code (Edition 12) – Sales Promotions.
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. This resulted in confusion as to which entries should or should not be allowed.
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.
Travel Republic apologised for extending the closing date but it considered that this made it fair to all entrants. Those who had already entered were contacted by Twitter, Facebook and by a blog entry on the Travel Republic website.
The CAP Code states that closing dates must not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the promoter’s control made it necessary and participants were not disadvantaged.
The ASA understood that Travel Republic had made the change because the company felt the original terms were unclear. However, the ASA noted that the terms and conditions of a promotion were in the advertiser’s control and so considered Travel Republic ought to have foreseen before starting the promotion the problems that could arise.
The ASA did not consider that the extension of the closing date arose from unavoidable circumstances beyond the advertiser’s control.
Also the regulator felt that some participants who had taken part under the original terms and conditions would have found themselves in breach of the amended terms and conditions. This would mean entering the competition again if they wanted to comply with the new rules. This could have meant competing against a larger pool of entrants due to the extended deadline.
The ASA considered that 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. It concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly and was in breach of the Code.
The promotion breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.17, 8.17.1 and 8.17.4.e (Sales promotions).
The promotion must not appear again in its current form. Travel Republic Ltd was told 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.