Complaints have been upheld against Lidl over its failure to identify the winners of a "year's free shopping" promotion, or to ensure prize draws had been independently witnessed.
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) agreed with concerns raised by two customers over the competition which was valued at more than €5,000 per winner.
In the run up to Christmas shoppers were invited to fill in an entry form, after which one winner for every county in Ireland would be selected.
However, one of the complainants told the ASAI she had become concerned when the winners were not announced.
“She emailed the company on three separate occasions to enquire about the results of the competition,” the ASAI said in a summary of the case.
Although Lidl eventually told her the winners were “picked and contacted” the complainant told Lidl the rules of the ASAI’s code were that promoters should either publish or make available on request, details of the name and county of prize winners.
Lidl’s legal department then cited a part of advertising legislation that “promoters should bear in mind the risk of theft or harassment that may arise if the details given are sufficient to allow the address of a winner of a prize of substantial value to be identified”.
They added, however, that with the permission of three winners they had announced their identities on Facebook.
In response to the complaint, Lidl provided the ASAI with the list of winners on a confidential basis and said they did not publish the details as they considered the prize to be of significant value.
However, the ASAI complaints committee said the list of winners had not been made available on request and as such was in breach of the code.
A second complainant queried whether there had been an independent observer present to oversee the draws.
Lidl said store managers acted as judges, with the process “independently observed” by a sales operation manager.
The ASAI committee expressed concern there had been no observer independent of the company and that at all stages the competition had been supervised by Lidl employees, amounting to a further breach of the advertising code.
“The names of the winners should be made available on request and independent observers used when required by the code,” it said.
The decision against Lidl was one of seven complaints upheld in relation to a total of eight received by the ASAI on grounds relating to “misleading advertising and principles”.
One of two complaints against an eight page health and beauty brochure from UK Direct Shop raised concerns as to the authenticity of personal product testimonies, given the use of what appeared to be stock photographs.
The complainant “forwarded a screen shot from another company’s website which featured a picture of two people both of whom featured in the advertisers’ brochure in association with testimonials from customers,” the ASAI reported.
UK Direct Shop said they regularly received positive feedback from customers including those featured in the testimonials, but the complaint was nevertheless upheld.
Meanwhile, Sky Ireland was found to have misled existing broadband customers into thinking they could avail of a special deal on “super fast” fibre broadband, when in fact this was only available to new customers or existing TV customers, but not broadband customers.
Further complaints were upheld against Groupon, Cartrawler, Full Body Workhouse and Lloyd, Daily & Associates.