Who wins matters

In the summer, a Hampshire car dealership called Hendy ran a prize draw to win a Ford Fiesta. Four people subsequently complained to the ASA on the grounds that the prize had not been awarded fairly, because it had gone to a relative of a Hendy employee, yet the terms and conditions said that the families of Hendy employees were not eligible.

Hendy was able to prove that it had acted fairly and had used an independent service to make the draw. That went in its favour with the ASA and Hendy was exonerated, but this case highlights how important it is to have a verifiable process for conducting a prize draw. That’s my first point.

The draw was open to UK residents aged 18 and over, apart from “Hendy employees, their families and anyone else professionally associated with the prize draw.” That’s pretty standard, isn’t it, and you’d find something very similar in most prize draw terms and conditions.

In fact, the winner was married to the cousin of an employee’s de facto spouse – if you can follow that – and the ASA decided that consumers would not expect such a person to be excluded from the promotion based on the wording of the terms and conditions. However, this case does raise the question of whether terms and conditions need tighter definitions of the term ‘employer’s families’. That’s my second point.

Now, you might say that the Hendy complainants went to the trouble of complaining to the ASA because a car was a significant prize that was well worth winning. That’s probably true, but people also go to considerable lengths for a lot less, as another ASA ruling illustrates.

In 2014 a Bolton estate agent called HarrisonCole ran a prize draw on Twitter. Someone who believed that several of the winners had close connections to the estate agent complained to the ASA, which investigated. HarrisonCole insisted its draw had been fair, but failed to provide any evidence to prove that claim. The prizes in question – £20 Nandos gift cards, iPhone cases and an iPad Mini – were definitely nice to have, but not extremely high value, yet the draw still attracted a complaint, which the ASA upheld.

People do care who wins and whatever the prize, your draw needs to conducted fairly, as stipulated by the CAP Code. And that’s my third and final point. If you’re tempted to cheat – and I’m sure it wouldn’t even cross your mind – don’t, because, morality aside, you’ll get caught…

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist, an IPM Board Director, and a SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards Scams Team.

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