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Product: Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (Milk)
Advertiser: Glanbia Consumer Foods (Avonmore)
Medium: Sales Promotion
A sales promotion for Avonmore Super Milk offered a free flight to one of six listed destinations with the collection of 30 on pack tokens.
Packaging on promotional cartons stated:
Front of carton: “FREE FLIGHT with 30 tokens. See back of pack for details”
Back of carton:
“FREE FLIGHT with 30 tokens
Fly to the sun, fly to the city, fly to the sea with Avonmore Super Milk you fly for free! Departures to…
Brussels Amsterdam Paris
Barcelona London Milan
Claiming your free flight is easy! Here’s how:
1. Collect 30 tokens from special promotional packs of Avonmore Super Milk – there’s one on 1L cartons and two on 1.75L cartons.
2. Post your 30 tokens plus a stamped addressed envelope to Super Milk Flights Promotion, PO Box 12544, Dublin 18. Tokens must be received by 9th April 2018.
3. Your unique code will be posted back to you.
4. Register online at www.supermilkflights.com with your unique code to redeem your free flight.
Open to ROI residents aged 18+. Purchase necessary. Competition runs 12/2/18 - 30/03/18 - closing date for receipt of tokens is 9th April 2018. Any applications received after the closing date will not be processed. The unique code entitles the registered individual to one economy return flight to one of the eight destinations listed. Flight includes airport taxes. Only one unique code may be used per booking and only 30 tokens may be enclosed per envelope. You will receive your unique code to the address provided within 28 days of receipt of your 30 tokens and stamped addressed envelope. Travel must be completed within 2018. See www.avonmoremilk.ie/supermilk for full terms and conditions.
Promoter Sweete Ltd. For any queries on the promotion please contact firstname.lastname@example.org”
Advertising also appeared on store points and on trolley handles in supermarkets:
“Avonmore FREE FLIGHT with 30 tokens. See special packs for details
*Terms and conditions apply”.
Five complaints were received regarding the promotion and the complainants raised various issues.
That the promotional material was misleading as it had not stated that only one application could be submitted per household. Complainants had collected enough tokens for two applications and after submitting them, were advised that they were only eligible for one. The complainants considered that as this was a major condition of the promotion, it should have been declared in the advertising.
The mechanics of the promotion made it very difficult to avail of the free flight offer. Complainants considered that the wording on the packaging implied that once an applicant had received their code and had registered online, they could redeem their flight, however, in reality there were many more steps to go through before receiving the flight.
One complainant considered that the advertising gave the impression that a consumer could have their choice of the six (sic) destinations, however, applicants had to select three options in three different months, therefore, there was no guarantee that they would receive the destination of their choice.
One complainant objected to the fact that entrants had a time limit of 10 minutes to complete their application.
Several complainants experienced service issues with the promotion and in view of those, they considered that the promotion had not been administered properly and that it was purposely difficult to avail of the offer. Issues encountered were:
• One complainant did not receive their unique codes and the promotional agency were unwilling to re-send any codes;
• Another complainant, after filling in the on-line application form with a unique code, did not receive their flight and encountered service issues when dealing with the promotional agency. This complainant also considered that the charge of €99 to add a second flight was excessive when flights to the destinations in question could be purchased for a fraction of this charge;
• Complainant disputed the fact that they were advised that their application had not been received by the promotional agency before the closing date and also that they had not included a stamped addressed envelope.
The advertisers stated that the promotion offered consumers a free flight with 30 tokens collected to one of 8 destinations listed, subject to certain terms and conditions. They said that they worked with a third party promotional agency to manage and fulfil the promotion and that it was a well-known mechanic previously used by other brands. They said that the terms and conditions for the promotion were standard for this type of promotion.
In regards to the process itself, the advertisers said that consumers had to collect 30 tokens from participating packs and the tokens were to be sent in with a stamped addressed envelope and posted to the third party promotional agency by the closing date of 9th April. They said that all valid applications received were then posted a voucher code via their stamped addressed envelope and this voucher included a list of terms and conditions. The consumer had to then register the code online and complete an application form with their details, including their top 3 preferences of where and when they would like to travel. On receipt of the form, the promotional agency contacted the consumer by phone with a return flight offer. They said that the promotional agency endeavoured to accommodate the consumers’ preferences as much as possible but a first preference was not guaranteed as was stated in the terms and conditions. They also said that consumers who wished to travel with an additional person had the option of booking an additional seat at a set rate of €99 plus taxes and charges.
The advertisers said that due to the nature of the promotion they were conscious to have clear terms and conditions that were understood by the consumer and that also protected both Avonmore and their promotional agency from misuse. Due to the size of their packaging, they listed some terms and conditions on the pack and included a link to their website for the full terms
and conditions with the statement “see www.avonmore.ie/supermilk for full terms and conditions”. They also said that consumers were reminded of the terms and conditions at various other stages throughout the process including on the flight voucher issued to entrants. Before a consumer completed their application form, they also had to tick a confirmation box confirming that they had read the terms and conditions.
The advertisers said that the packaging had stated “only one unique code may be used per booking and only 30 tokens may be enclosed per envelope”. They also said that the terms and conditions on the website had further stated at point 5 that “only one flight voucher per person, per household and per booking group. Booking group is defined as any additional passenger travelling with the voucher holder.” They also referred to point 6 of the terms and conditions which stated “Tokens for one flight only may be enclosed per envelope.” They considered that the conditions had been clearly set out both on their packaging and on the website.
The advertisers said that the process for redeeming a free flight was outlined in full in the terms and conditions and had included a number of steps which entrants had to complete, including registering their choice of destination and months of travel. In order to book the entrant on their free flight, the promotional agency needed to verbally communicate with the entrant in order to confirm their acceptance of the flight on offer and their details.
The advertisers said that, as outlined in the terms and conditions, entrants were required to give three alternative destinations and months of travel on their application form. They said that this was done in order to avoid disappointment when specific dates were not available. Whilst the promotional agency endeavoured to offer consumers their first choice preference, this was not always possible due to flight availability. They said that these conditions were outlined in the terms and conditions at point 14 stating, “In order to process the application entrants must give three alternative destinations and three difference months of travel.”
The advertisers said that there was no time limit in which to complete the form. They said that the landing page for the application had referred to the fact that it may take up to 10 minutes to complete the form. As unique codes could only be used once, they wanted to let consumers know to allow sufficient time to complete the form.
The advertisers stated that approximately 13% of entries were received by the promotional agency after the closing date of 9th April. After they had received complaints that some consumers believed that they had posted their entries in good time, they requested that the promotional agency process all entries regardless of received date. They said that all valid applications were then issued a code, however, these would have been issued later than the original 28 days anticipated. They said that they communicated this on their Facebook and Twitter page at that time.
In regards to entrants being told that their tokens were not received, the advertisers said that if the promotional agency did not received the tokens, they had no proof of entry. They referred to point 25 of the terms and conditions which stated “proof of posting is not acceptable as proof of receipt. No responsibility can be accepted for lost or damaged application forms. Please note it is not possible for the promoter or the operator to replace lost vouchers.”
In response to the charge of an extra passenger, the advertisers said that the €99 rate plus taxes and charges was outlined in the terms and conditions and consumers were not obliged to take this offer and were asked if they’d like a 24 hour period to consider the offer. They said that this gave consumers the chance to check other offers if they so wished.
In response to the complaint that one entrant believed their application should have been received before the closing date and had included a stamped addressed envelope, they again referred to the fact that 13% of entries had been received after the closing date and all valid entries that were late did receive a unique code. They said that a condition of entry was that consumers needed to supply a stamped addressed envelope with their tokens. All applications received by the promotional agency were recorded on a database and valid entries contained a stamped addressed envelope and 30 tokens. They said that entries were considered invalid if they contained less than 30 tokens, did not contain a stamped addressed envelope or had included an envelope that was not stamped. They said the promotional agency recorded each entry as valid or invalid and the reason why it was invalid. They said that it was not feasible for them to hold the contents of each entry, therefore, once an entry was processed into the database, the contents were disposed of. The advertisers confirmed, however, that they had surveyed a random sample of entries that were received.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1: Complaints Upheld
The Committee noted that the packaging had included some of the terms and conditions, including the statements “The unique code entitles the registered individual to one economy return flight …” and “only one unique code may be used per booking and only 30 tokens may be enclosed per envelope”. In this case the Committee considered that, while reference had been made to a website that listed the full terms and conditions, the terms listed on the packaging had given the impression that more than one envelope could have been submitted per household. In this case the Committee considered that the promotion involved a complex mechanism in order to avail of the flights. The Committee noted that there were a large number of terms and conditions that needed to be considered by entrants as they were sufficient to affect a consumer’s decision of whether to participate in the promotion or not. In the circumstances the Committee considered that more attention should have been drawn to the terms and conditions. The Committee considered therefore, that the promotion was in breach of Sections 5.5, 5.15 (a), (g), (h), (i) and 5.30 and (h).
Issue 2: Complaints Upheld
The Committee noted that the packaging had included the statement “claiming your flight is easy! Here’s how” and had included a simplified outline of the process involved, together with a list of some of the terms and conditions. The Committee considered, however, that the processes involved in availing of the free flight offer were complex and that while a reference was made to full terms available on the website, as a number of the terms would need to be considered in full by entrants, the Committee considered that more attention should have been drawn to the terms and conditions. The Committee considered that the promotion was in breach of Sections 5.5, 5.15(a), (g), (h), and 5.30(c) and (h).
Issue 3: Complaints Not Upheld
The Committee noted that the advertising had stated “Free Flight” and included a list of the destinations offered. The Committee considered that consumers would understand that there could be difficulties in accommodating all entrants’ first choice, therefore, they considered that it was reasonable for the promoter to require that entrants provide several options of destination and travel dates. In the circumstances the Committee did not consider that this aspect of the promotion was in breach of the Code.
Issue 4: Complaints Not Upheld
The Committee noted that the advertisers had included an estimate of the time taken to complete the form and that there was no time limit in which it had to be completed. In the circumstances the Committee did not consider that this aspect of the promotion was in breach of the Code.
Issue 5: Complaints Not Upheld
The Committee noted that some complainants had reason to contact the promotional agency in regards to their entries and that they were not satisfied with their experience. The Committee considered that the level of late entries, at 13% was significant, however, they acknowledged the advertisers’ action in ensuring that all valid late entries were accepted. In regards to the dispute concerning valid or invalid entries, the Committee did not consider that this aspect was one that could be considered by them as it was a customer service matter. Finally, in regards to the cost of booking an additional passenger, the Committee noted that the cost had been referenced in the terms and conditions and as the promotion was for a free flight, they did not consider that the cost of an additional passenger was required to be declared in the advertising. In the circumstances, the Committee did not consider that this aspect of the promotion was in breach of the Code.
The promotion must not reappear in its current form again. The Committee requested that future similar promotions with many terms that could affect a consumers decision of whether to engage with the offer or not, should include explicit reference to the fact that such terms exist.