Terms Apply = Instant Fail

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Terms & Conditions are essential for the well-being of any promotion, but they are often overlooked by marketers. PromoVeritas Managing Director, Jeremy Stern, offers his opinion about this undervalued part of marketing:

One of my pet hates is a simple phrase;  “Terms Apply”.  It is a red rag to my bull. You hear it on radio ads, you see it on text at the bottom of a TV ads and on posters or web post.

Why do I hate it so much – because it means so little. “Terms Apply”. It is sloppy, bad copywriting created by those who do not know what they are writing about. What are those terms, do they contradict everything that the advert says, or do they clarify key points, And most importantly if there are terms that apply, where are those terms. Where can I read them?

Thus the phrase “Terms Apply” is incomplete, it is a cul de sac , a dead end, instead of being a gateway, a sign post to the next level of information – the full set of terms. If your response is go and look on the home page of the advertised brand, you will most likely be sorely disappointed, as they are often buried deep behind brand pages and hard to find without a direct link.

How hard would it be to change “Terms Apply” to ‘For Terms see www.XXXX.com’ and then I would be happy. We know there are terms

AND we know how to find them.

Planned and constructed correctly, Terms & Conditions, aka T&Cs, will provide valuable information to the entrant  – and legal protection for the promoter. Poorly written T&Cs borrowed from another campaign are a recipe for disaster and potential legal issues.

T&Cs and the Law

This H&M ad is a good example of this lack of understanding about promotional compliance – which would be deemed as insufficient in the eyes of the law and the CAP Code. Promoters need to ensure that if they must include an asterix and a phrase such as Terms Apply, it should be clear where the full Terms & Conditions can be found e.g. a visible URL link and maybe a set of summary terms at the bottom of the page.

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations law is the UK implementation of the EU wide Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and prohibits 31 unfair commercial practices. One practice is about misleading omissions; when a business hides or omits crucial information required by a consumer to make an informed decision. In other words, having a clear set of T&Cs to notify entrants of key information – opening/closing dates, prizes, who can apply or any restrictions etc. – is required.

A cautionary tale

The following is a perfect example of why having a set of T&Cs is always essential – no matter what the promotion is. Hooters, the

US restaurant chain ran a promotion on air apparently offering a Toyota as the top prize. The winner, a waitress called Jodee Berry, was blindfolded and escorted to the car park of the restaurant where she discovered her prize wasn’t really a car but was in fact a Star Wars character, a toy Yoda !   Get it ! She naturally was not happy and sued the restaurant chain for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of contract. Although the restaurant manager said the competition was just an April Fools’ joke the waitress ended up with a settlement that involved receiving a brand new Toyota car !

It’s simple…

Where space is limited stating “Terms & Conditions apply” is in my view only acceptable if there is a direct link to the full Terms or you state where they can be found. So do not be vague – an asterisk is not enough to be fully compliant

Deliver a visible solution for the consumers that do not know where they can find the full terms & conditions for best practice. Or if you are stuck as to where to put the Terms, use our amazing www.promoterms.com service – a simple solution used by hundreds of brands.

Jeremy Stern, Managing Director

For help and advice with keeping all aspects of your campaigns compliant contact PromoVeritas.

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