Complaints were received about a direct mail promotion which stated that recipients had been selected to take part in a prize claim line and which detailed four mock cheques with the recipients name on them, each of which carried a premium rate number to call to claim a prize.
The following breaches of the ICSTIS Code of Practice (Tenth Edition) were raised:
· Misleading (Paragraph 4.3.1a): The promotional letter was misleading because it suggested that each of the mock cheques were worth a cash amount, which was not the case as most of the four cheques related to non cash prizes. The promotion also incorrectly suggested that cash prizes started at £1000, when the majority of callers would be awarded less than £100, and potentially as little as £1. The cash amounts detailed on the cheques bore no relation to the amounts that were likely to be won by most callers and the main body of the promotion failed to detail that anything other than cash prizes were available to be won. Finally, the terms and conditions were displayed at the back of the promotion in such a way that they were not immediately apparent.
· Taking advantage of consumers (Paragraph 4.3.1 b): The main body of the promotion suggested that callers would win a minimum of £1000 in cash, therefore callers are likely to have called all of the premium rate numbers at a total cost of £40 to ensure that this was the case. Callers would be less likely to call all of these numbers if they were fully aware that cash prizes started from as little as £1. As callers were not aware of on which cheques the cash prize they were expecting would be awarded, if after calling the first cheque number and not receiving it, they would have very little option but to call all of the numbers to ensure that they could claim the prize that they were expecting.
· Pricing Prominence (Paragraph 4.4.2): The promotional material failed to detail the cost of calling the premium rate numbers with sufficient prominence.
· Competition Information (Paragraph 6.2 b &c): The promotional material failed to significant terms and condition with regard to the claim of non-cash prizes, or an adequate description of non-cash prizes. It is a requirement of the Code that all of this information is provided in the promotional material.
· Exaggeration of winning a prize (Paragraph 6.2.8 b & c): The promotional material exaggerated the chances of winning a cash prize of £1000 or more and also exaggerated the chances of winning prizes in general.
· Additional information (Paragraph 72.3): Information was requested about the promotion and operation of the service.