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Competition in disability magazine misleading, advertising watchdog says

Words fail me, well, almost. How ridiculous is this?

The winner of a competition, for which the prize was a holiday, is unable to claim what is rightfully his because of a blunder by the holiday company and the magazine that published it.

The problem is that the resort is not totally wheelchair accessible and the competition details did not say so.

That is only a small error, you might think. After all, magazine publishers cannot be expected to think of every contingency. But, while that is true, this competition was published as an advertisement in a UK disability magazine.

misleadingThe man won a week-long, all-inclusive trip to France with Go Provence Supported Holidays, in the competition in Pos’Ability Magazine.

It said that the resort is aimed at anyone with learning difficulties, and autism. It did not say it was wheelchair accessible but, critically, neither did it say it wasn’t.

Understandably the man is disappointed that he was deprived of his prize ad, at the same time, angry that the fact that the competition details did not make the wheelchair exclusion clear. He was angry enough to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the body that oversees advertisements in the UK, that it was misleading. The ASA has now determined that the competition did breach its rules.

ASA upholds complaint of being misleading

The ASA decided the competition was misleading because it appeared “in the context of a disability lifestyle magazine”.

And, while the holiday company got its advertising wording wrong, the magazine cannot escape its share of responsibility. Publishers have a duty to ensure the content of advertisements are accurate and not misleading in any way.

Go Provence said that the term ‘disability’ has a “wide definition” and readers would have needed to check to see if the accommodation was accessible. Sorry, I don’t agree. It should be clear.

The ASA ruling said that promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions.  It continued promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.

The ruling stated: The promotion must not appear again its current form. We told Go Provence and Pos’Ability, to ensure that their future promotions included relevant applicable significant conditions where their omission was likely to mislead, including whether or not a competition prize was accessible for readers who used a wheelchair.

“We considered that they should take into account any obligations they had under the Equality Act 2010 when they communicated any limitation on what was offered to their readers, for example, the duty to make reasonable adjustments.”

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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