Castle raffle competition reprimanded for not awarding house prize

17 April 2019

The advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has admonished a homeowner who attempted to raffle her house, for giving out a prize of inferior value.

The watchdog found Susan DeVere had not offered a reasonable alternative prize after the raffle failed to attract enough participants.

Ms DeVere attempted to raffle her house, Orchardton Castle, near Auchencairn, Kirkcudbrightshire.

In defence of the raffle Ms DeVere, said they were careful in the way they ran the competition and that all property competitions were run in this way.  

Tickets were sold for £5 but after the competition failed to attract enough entrants, Ms DeVere awarded cash prizes of £65,000, £7,000 and £5,000 instead.

The ASA found that this was not commensurate with the offer of the castle, which was valued between £1.5 million and £2.5 million.

The ASA has ordered Ms DeVere not to run the promotion again in its current form.

Moneywise investigation into housing raffles

With the rise to prominence of many housing raffles last year, Moneywise has investigated the outcomes of these competitions and found that in most cases, no house was ever actually awarded.

In the past 18 months, competition website Loquax has listed 50 house competitions of which 41 are now closed. Only two of these resulted in anyone winning a property, one of which was a community project in Ireland.

In more than 70% of cases a cash prize was awarded, usually worth far less than the estimated property value. In some cases, the winner receives just a few thousand pounds because the raffle didn’t sell enough tickets.

Moneywise also interviewed Susan DeVere as a part of the investigation. She told us: “It seemed a good way to pass the castle on to other people.

“People viewed it when it was on the market and they didn’t have the money to do their plans. I also wanted to raise money and awareness for charities.”

But despite her best efforts, and extending the deadline, she only raised £107,000.

Ms DeVere told Moneywise: “People had to pay through their banks. If we had credit card payment or PayPal, we would have made it.”

Moneywise approached the ASA for further comment on the proliferaiton of housing raffles that do not meet expectations. 

It's spokesperson says: "The ASA has seen a recent increase in complaints about property raffles and whether some of them are misleading. These kinds of promotion are subject to the advertising rules and, as our ruling against Win Your Castle makes clear, advertisers must take care to ensure they administer them fairly.

"In the first instance, our focus is on stopping problem promotions from appearing and educating advertisers about the rules. If, however, a promoter breaks the rules and is unable or unwilling to work with us then we will consider applying further sanctions up to and including referral to Trading Standards for consideration of statutory action."

Find out more in Moneywise's investigation: Are 'dream home' raffles turning into a nightmare?

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