Readers of the Times were to collect four promotional codes in order to claim tickets from the partnership. Affixed to the ad was the small print ‘subject to availability’.
Two complainants stated that they did not believe the advertiser had made a reasonable estimate of demand for the tickets. Further to this, one said there was not listed a closing date for the promotion, a further barrier to redeeming the tickets.
News UK, which publishes the Times, denied that the lack of a closing date set consumers back, arguing that they would know to book quickly to get the tickets to ensure that their preferred dates were still available. On why there wasn’t a closing date, they stated that they didn’t expect tickets to be claimed so quickly and anticipated having to extend the deadline.
On top of a base of 25,000 tickets, and a further 15,000 backups, the publisher has received a further 500 requests, partly because of an unanticipated promotion of the deal from a third party journalist on day-time TV.
The ASA ruled that the closing date for the promotion was a significant condition that should have been prominently displayed with the ad.
Furthermore, the following advice was issued: “If they were unable to supply demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other unanticipated factor outside their control, they must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants and consumers and, in cases of any likely detriment, offer a refund or a reasonable substitute product.”