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Raffle Rumpus: another property competition in hot water with watchdog

Another property raffle - this time with what appeared to be a castle as its main prize - has hit trouble with the authorities.

A complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority was made following the change of prize from a property to a cash prize in the competition on the Orchardton Castle Facebook page; however, the cash prize was not going to be to the value of the property prize, which was said to be between £1.5m and £2.7m. 

“Because neither the advertised prize nor a reasonable alternative had been awarded, we concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly and was in breach of the Code” the ASA said in conclusion.

The complaint followed a claim seen on the Orchardton Castle Facebook page in February stating: “BUY AN ENTRY AND GET A FREE ENTRY WITH FACEBOOK. Share and like OUR PAGE on Facebook - fill in a form from our site Don’t forget to fill in the question answers [sic]. thank you. https://winacastle.co.uk https://winyourcastle.com https://winacastle.co.uk/step2b.html for form. Please remember it must be a like THE PAGE not post [sic] and a share for a free entry. Good luck everyone!”

Below an image showed the view from a window of a lawn and trees leading to the sea, beneath which large text stated “Win A Castle”. Smaller text underneath stated “win a castle competition. For less than the price of a pizza! £5 per entry. Buy some now before they all go. Win the whole building freehold”.

But the complainant, who understood that the prize had been changed to a cash amount, challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.

Susan DeVere, trading as Win Your Castle, told the ASA that everyone was dealt with honourably and there were no justifiable grounds for complaint. It said all property competitions were run in the same way and that the property could not be awarded if there were not enough entries received to clear the mortgage. To award a cash prize that was equivalent to the value of the property was not possible with property competitions.

In addition Susan DeVere said the competition’s terms and conditions made clear the full details which were too numerous to be carried on a Facebook post. 

Win Your Castle said that no prizes were withheld and the prize as described was awarded within 30 days. It was made clear from the beginning that if not enough entries were received, the property would not be awarded and a cash prize would be offered instead. 

However, the ASA stated that promoters must award the prize as described in their marketing communications or reasonable equivalents, normally within 30 days, and that it must be specified on all marketing communications whether the promoter may substitute a cash alternative for any prize.

The ASA says: “We noted that the ad appeared on the Orchardton Castle Facebook page and was titled ‘Win A Castle’ which was accompanied by the text ‘Win the whole building freehold.’ We considered that consumers would understand that the advertised prize was freehold ownership of Orchardton Castle. … The complainant had entered the promotion in the hope of winning that specific prize and we noted that there was nothing in the Facebook ad which suggested that a cash prize might be awarded instead, nor had we seen evidence that other competition materials, such as the website, included that information in a prominent form.”

It appears that at the end of the competition three cash prizes were awarded at the value of £65,000; £7,000; and £5,000 instead of the advertised prize, because the minimum number of entries had not been reached, and that the advertiser had offered the winner a share of the property. 

“However, we considered that a share of the property or any cash alternative that was less than the value of the property, were not reasonable equivalents to the prize as advertised” concludes the ASA.

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