The advertisers through their Facebook page offered followers the opportunity to enter a competition. The first prize on offer was a scholarship to the Irish College worth €910. The advertisement posted on 05/01/2016 stated:
“****Competition Competition Competition****
Look at the great prizes we have. All you need to do is find the two missing words in the word search, fill out the forms & send it back to us. Easy peasy!! T&C’s apply”
The same post appeared again on 15/01/2016, without the reference to “T&C’s apply.”
The complainant said that she was informed that as she had already paid a deposit, her son was not eligible to enter the competition. She said there was no reference to terms and conditions in the advertisement and that despite requesting them, the advertisers had not forwarded them to her. She considered the advertising to be misleading.
The advertisers said that they made every effort to clarify in their advertising that terms and conditions apply to their competitions. In this case they said the terms and conditions were made available to those who rang their office and the terms and conditions were as follows:
Terms & Conditions:
1. The voucher expires on the..........
2. Voucher applicable to our 3 week Courses only.
3. Voucher applicable to new applicants only.
4. This special offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other special offer/discount given by the college. ONLY ONE offer per student.
5. Vouchers cannot be exchanged for cash.
The advertisers also said they made every effort at all times to ensure that they answered the queries of all those who contacted them.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that in one case the advertising had referred to ‘T&C’s apply’ but it was not possible to link to the terms and conditions, and in another case the advertising had not referred to terms and conditions applying.
The Committee considered that the advertising was likely to mislead because the terms and conditions were not made available to consumers and that it therefore was in breach of Sections 2.22, 2.24 and 3.29 of the Code.
The advertisement should not be used in its current format again. The Committee also reminded the advertisers that when preparing future competitions to ensure that they make the terms and conditions available.