The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against after finding that a prize draw promotion run by the price comparison website breached CAP Code rules concerning competition closing dates.

The internet prize draw promotion stated: “... Everyone who enters will be included in a prize draw to win £750 in cash – perfect to put towards your next family getaway. Five lucky runners up will each win £50 Toys ‘R’ Us vouchers. Everyone who enters will have their child’s drawing made into a Christmas card and sent to them before the big day...” The prize draw terms and conditions, provided via a link from the webpage, stated: “... To be in with a chance of winning: Entrants must notify of their entry by 17th December 2012... reserves the right to extend the dates of the promotion and will notify you via [Twitter account] of this...”  

Moneysupermarket subsequently announced via its Twitter feed on 17 December that the closing date for the competition had been extended. A complainant challenged whether the rules regarding the administration of promotions had been observed, in particular CAP Code rule 8.17.4.e which states that “Unless circumstances outside the reasonable control of the promoter make it unavoidable, closing dates must not be changed. If they are changed, promoters must do everything reasonable to ensure that consumers who participated within the original terms are not disadvantaged.”

Moneysupermarket sought to rely on its terms and conditions, which expressly reserved the right to extend the closing date and described the manner in which that would be done. The promotion was essentially an offer of seasonal goodwill which allowed children to receive a personalised Christmas card and, for a number of participants, the opportunity to receive a cash or gift token award.

The ASA nevertheless concluded that the ad was in breach of the CAP Code. The inclusion of a closing date of 17 December suggested that participants needed to respond by that date in order to enter the draw and take advantage of the offer. Closing dates should only be extended where circumstances outside the reasonable control of the promoter make it unavoidable. The purpose of this rule is to ensure marketing communications do not materially mislead consumers and that prize promotions are conducted equitably, promptly and efficiently in accordance with rules 8.1 and 8.2 of the CAP Code.