Can a closing date be changed?

Have you ever followed a link to enter a prize draw, only to discover that it’s closed early? Or entered a creative competition on the final day, then realise the closing date has been extended to the following month?

In the UK every prize promotion must follow the CAP Code. The Code states that closing dates must not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter make it necessary and either not to change the date would be unfair to those who sought to participate within the original terms, or those who sought to participate within the original terms will not be disadvantaged by the change.’ (section 8.17.14e). Promoters must also avoid ‘causing unnecessary disappointment’ (section 8.2), which usually happens as a result of a closing date change.

If you’re wondering, unavoidable circumstances do not include a lack of entries (see the ASA ruling against Terra Plana) or a staff member going on holiday, so the winner can be announced before they go away! If there’s a technical error which prevents people from entering the prize promotion before the closing date, these circumstances could be considered ‘unavoidable’, but in most cases you can expect the ASA to uphold a complaint about an altered date.

When someone enters a prize draw or competition, they are agreeing to the terms and conditions – including the closing date. These T&Cs should not be changed. You might read in the terms that ‘we reserve the right to modify the competition at any time and for any reason’ – which might sound impressive, but it means nothing to the ASA (see their ruling against Money Supermarket).

It’s easy for an unhappy entrant to register a complaint with the ASA about a changed closing date. If they investigate, and publish a ruling on the ASA website, it could be damaging to a company’s reputation. In October Travel Republic extended a closing date, and the ASA ruling stated it was not unavoidable circumstances.

Promoters should take time to check their terms and conditions before publication, and consider any problems that could arise with the dates. If a prize promotion isn’t as popular as expected, there are lots of options to publicise it – I can feature it on SuperLucky, there are promoted Facebook posts and tweets, or simply add the competition to free listings sites like Loquax or The PrizeFinder!

Have you entered a competition where the closing date has changed? Did you complain to the promoter? Let me know in the comments!

Author: Di

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  • Sue leake

    Hi Di I complained to the ASA over a BooHoo Pinterest competition closing date the result was this

    “They’ve clarified that the end date for the promotion was indeed the earlier date of 30 October and they’ve explained that an administrative error meant that an incorrect date was inserted into the terms and conditions. We would therefore consider that the ad breached our Code. However, as this appeared to be a relatively clear breach, instead of initiating a formal investigation and with a view to acting quickly, we’ve obtained an assurance from the advertiser that procedures have been put in place to help ensure that similar issues do not arise in their future similar marketing communication. We have also received a written assurance from them to that effect.

    We consider that the issue is now resolved and we will be closing our file.

  • Lydia Frew

    I have reported two local shopping centres, a bin company and Moët Hennesey to the ASA for extended dates this year. In two cases I warned them first about CAP regulations but did not even get a reply. The ASA found against all of them. For both the shopping centres I was a guaranteed winner until they extended due to lack of entries so I lost out on £200 of prizes.

  • Angela Walton

    Just submitted a complaint to ASA about a Daily Telegraph comp ending early. The page stated to submit entries by January 3rd 2016 yet on the same page, directly below instead of an entry form there was a sentence saying the draw has now ended and this was today (27th December 2015)

  • Marnie Llewelyn

    Have entered the #wizardselfie competition with @ao and @hoover_uk, it seems not many people have entered. They should have already announced a winner so I have just messaged to ask who the winner was and they’ve told me they’ve changed the closing date to september! 🙁 I’ve replied mentioning that that breaches CAP code (might not help me win pointing that out!), will keep pushing as I don’t think it’s fair as it’s a rather big prize of a new washing machine!

  • elainehollis

    MyAppliances have a comp running on Facebook. They notified the winners hours ago yet the T&C say Competition ends Midnight on Monday the 16th of January.

  • Debbie Howe

    I challenged Clas Olsen recently and they replied : Hey Debbie, we extended it to include the BH weekend 🙂 Thanks, Emily
    https://www.facebook.com/clasohlsonuk/photos/a.243956665678520.56198.168478149893039/1446410755433099/?type=3&theater