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Advertising watchdog slaps down House Raffle competition wording

The Advertising Standards Authority has told the organisers of a house raffle that they must not repeat a promotion because of three major problems.

Raffles, although still applying to only a small number of properties, have nonetheless become increasingly popular with owners and online platforms seeking to dispose of homes. 

The ASA’s ruling, out this morning, applies to www.homeraffler.com.  

Estate Agent Today has twice reported on this website - here and here - as the owner of the home in question seeks to dispose of the property which they reportedly purchased for just £360,000 in 2014 under Right To Buy. If the raffle is successful, the owner may receive over £2m in ticket revenue.

The ASA ruling applies following a complaint about a substantial volume of text seen on the Homeraffler website on June 30 this year. This featured a competition asking entrants to name the park near to the home in question.

Towards the bottom of the page was further text that stated “By entering this contest you declare that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions of entry” and provided a link to the full terms and conditions.

The complaint these tracts of text threw up came from an individual who worked in a compliance role within the promotions and competitions industry, and who challenged whether the competition breached the applicable advertising code because:

- The ad did not include a closing date, with terms and conditions suggesting the competition could be extended at the advertiser's discretion by up to six months, or if a sufficient number of paid entries had been obtained before the deadline, the prize draw would be closed early; and

- It did not make sufficiently clear that a cash substitute prize applied and that a 15 per cent deduction would be made by the promoter before awarding it to the winner; and

- The ASA understood that the property would be awarded at the promoter’s discretion on whether they considered that they had obtained sufficient proceeds from paid entries and challenged whether that had been made sufficiently clear in the ad.

Following the ASA’s enquiries the individuals behind Homeraffler amended the ad’s home page to include a closing date and a link to the Terms and Conditions. 

The site also amended the ad to say that if the number of paid entries received was not equal to the maximum required on the closing date, the draw would close and the proceeds would either be deemed sufficient to award the property as a prize at the discretion of the promoters, or the remaining funds would be allocated as a cash prize to a winner after the deduction of any expenses and marketing fees. 

Homeraffler.com would be entitled to retain 15 per cent of the entry fees to cover administration and marketing expenditure. The remaining balance following deduction of the 15 per cent would then be classed as the prize fund and would then be given to the winner.

Some amendments to the website have now been made. But in its judgement the ASA said:

“The promotion must not appear again in its current form. We told homeraffler.com that their future promotions must disclose a prominent closing date for submitted entries and should not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond their control made it necessary. Furthermore, they must ensure that they award the prizes as described in the ad or reasonable equivalents, which must include all significant conditions to the promotion.”

Poll: House Raffles - a harmless stunt or should they be banned?

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