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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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * 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.

Love the idea of cruising – or simply hate it?

royal princess

There are those who are hooked on cruising and others willing to give it a try but, at the other end of the scale, there are those who would not dream of setting foot on a cruise ship even if you paid them.

The reasons they give for not giving cruising a chance include fears for their safety at sea, heightened by some problems such as running aground and incidents such as engine failure or fires on board; health worries over norovirus or other infections in a closed space; rough seas in bad weather; and “being at sea for days on end”.

There is no need to dwell on the negatives except to say that, despite media ‘horror stories’, serious incidents with a ship are so rare as to be almost negligible. There is no need to be at sea for days on end, just choose a cruise where the ship is in a different port almost every day.

Yes, rough seas do happen but generally the ship will avoid the worst, even if it means changing the planned itinerary. Infections, also, can happen from time to time through lack of proper hygiene procedures being followed by other passengers. Cruise ship crews do their best to prevent outbreaks but no system is 100% idiot-proof.

club 6On the positive side, to many there is no better way to relax than by enjoying a great holiday where everything you need is provided without the detailed planning or stress of organising it all yourself. The major decisions you really need to make for a cruise are the destinations you’d like to visit, the price you are willing to pay and the timing that suits you best.

Committed cruisers know that cruises offer real value for money, a complete all-in-one package, excellent dining in a number of different restaurants, both family deals and ones restricted to adults-only, a wide variety of entertainments plus luxuries such as hot-tubs, sunbathing, even massages and other ‘pampering’.

There really can be no easier or relaxing way to visit a number of different places with the luxury of just unpacking and repacking your suitcases just once. You don’t need to traipse from hotel to hotel, unpacking at each one; on a cruise, your ‘hotel bedroom’ comes with you in the form of your stateroom.

Of course, the style and quality of what is on offer can vary not only between cruise lines but also between ships of the same line. I suspect that many experienced cruisers have their own favourites but others like to choose their cruises based on factors such as destination ports rather than a particular cruise line or ship. That really is all down to individual choice.

The fact that cruising is becoming an ever more popular holiday is clearly shown by new ship after new ship, often larger than ever before, being brought into service by one cruise line or another. But, don’t despair, if these huge ships seem too big for your taste; there are much smaller ones that carry fewer passengers and which might better suit your own desires and needs.


A reason to celebrate


Today, December 8, Spain has a national public holiday on the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is a religious celebration observed by many Christians, mainly Catholics, around the world.

Some churches organise processions through the streets but, on checking the internet, I was unable to find any details of one in the whole province of Almeria. Of course, most Catholic churches will each be holding a special Mass today.

The feast focuses on the belief that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin but that does not mean that she was conceived without sexual intercourse. The Catholic church, of which I am not a member, teaches that Mary was conceived by St Anne through conventional means – her father being St Joachim.  What ‘immaculate’ means is that, despite her conception being the result of sex, Mary was kept free of original sin.

I think it is important to emphasise that the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the other belief that Mary gave birth to Jesus while remaining a virgin.

Theological controversy, in which this blog is not getting involved, surrounded the feast of the for centuries. Many theologians throughout Christian history, including St Thomas Aquinas, questioned the Immaculate Conception.

It remained open for debate for many years until Pope Pius IX proclaimed it to be an essential dogma in the Catholic Church on December 8, 1854. The written document on this is known as the Ineffabilis Deus. Since then, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’s mother.

Ok, that’s enough about religion!

The weather here continues to be enjoyable and so very different from that we experienced in the UK in December or that Lisa remembers about this time of year in her native New York city. Here, today started sunny and with a clear blue sky but it was cold with a temperature of only 8˚C/46˚F. Since then it has warmed up considerably and, as I write this, it is now a comfortable 14˚C/57˚F.

genelectGoing out and about, there is plenty of evidence of political activity with banners everywhere exhorting voters to choose one party or another in the General Election on the 20th. And there are a host of parties to choose between when making a decision.

A couple of things about the election that do seem to be a good idea is that publication of opinion polls are prohibited in the last few days before voting takes place and campaigning has to end two days before election day. The very last day is set aside as a day of reflection; a day free from being badgered by one or more of the parties vying for power.