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House Raffle Snaffled: advertising was misleading, says watchdog

The Advertising Standards Authority has clamped down on misleading claims made by the organisers of a property raffle.

The controversy surrounds an email, a website and a sponsored post on Facebook for Raffle House, describing two promotions that offered the opportunity to win a property.

The authority had received two complaints following the advertising.

The first - from a complainant and instigated by the ASA itself - understood that the quoted prize of a £650,000 flat, or reasonable equivalents, had not been awarded.

The second was from another complainant, who understood that the previous winner won a cash prize of less value than the advertised property, and who therefore challenged part of the advertising that implied they had won a house of similar value.

Raffle House Ltd told the ASA that the cash prize of £173,012.93p was a reasonable equivalent. An ASA statement says: “They said they informed customers of how many entrants they required to guarantee the property as the jackpot prize throughout the competition … They said they clearly displayed on the website’s home page and elsewhere that the ticket threshold had to be reached to award the property, otherwise the prize was one of cash.”

In addition, the firm said that in none of the ads did it state that the previous winner had won a property. 

However, in the ASA’s assessment that in one of the ads the words used were: “With three weeks to go, our data shows that we’re only about 6,500 entrants away from being able to guarantee the property as the prize!” with the words “guarantee the property as the prize” in bold. 

The ASA says that with no such property actually awarded, the cash prize of £173,012.93p given to the winner “was clearly not a reasonable equivalent to the quoted prize of a property worth £650,000.” 

The authority continues: “While we understood that [one ad] referred to the requirement for a further 6,500 entrants in order to guarantee the property, it did not explain what would happen if Raffle House did not receive the quoted number of entries and prospective participants could not know how likely it was that a further 6,500 tickets would be sold in order to reach the 120,000 ticket threshold required to secure the property as the prize. As it transpired, the winner received a prize that was less than 27 per cent of the property’s value and less than 43 per cent of the total amount generated by the competition.”

And it adds: “For those reasons, we considered that the quoted prize or reasonable equivalents had not been awarded and that the promotion was likely to have caused participants unnecessary disappointment.”

In relation to the complaint about suggesting a previous winner had won a property, rather than a case prize, the authority says: “Although the ad did not explicitly state that the previous winner had won a property, we considered that was the clear implication of the claims that there was a chance to win a property worth £500,000”. 

It concluded that the Raffle House advertisement in question was misleading.

The authority has now told Raffle House Ltd to ensure in future that it awarded the prizes as described in its marketing, or reasonable equivalents, and that their future advertising does not mislead by exaggerating the value of a prize that had been previously awarded.

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