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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 06 March 2006

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OFT STOPS MISLEADING PREMIUM RATE SCRATCHCARD PROMOTION

A COMPANY distributing misleading premium rate scratchcard promotions, which charged consumers up to £9 to discover what they had 'won' has been stopped, following action by the OFT.  Cheshire-based Gr8 Games Limited distributed in total over 20 million scratchcards for a premium rate prize competition informing consumers that they could 'Win £50,000 Cash' or other high value prizes. The scratchcards were distributed to customers in various forms, including by mail and through magazines.

Customers were urged to claim their prize by calling or texting a premium rate number. Calls were charged at £1.50 per minute and lasted up to 5 minutes 50 seconds. The total cost of each call was up to £8.75. Texts cost £9. Nearly 45,000 people responded.

The OFT considered that the 'Win £50,000 scratchcards' were misleading because:-

* their presentation and layout gave the recipient the impression that they had won a prize of £15,000, when in fact nearly everyone who responded was only entitled to a low-value 'giveaway' prize such as a cheap camera or watch.

* they gave the impression that the 'giveaway' prizes were of equal or similar status to the major prizes

* important information likely to affect the recipients' decision on whether or not to take part in the promotion such as the quantities of each of the prizes available and additional costs payable by participants for claiming some of the prizes were only found within the small print on the reverse of the scratchcards.

* information likely to affect the recipients' decision to take part in the promotion such as additional costs payable by participants for claiming any electrical items won, was only found in small print on the reverse of the scratchcards.

The OFT also formed the view that the scratchcard promotion constituted an unlawful lottery as it considered that there was no genuine free entry route. Details of the postal entry route for claiming prizes was provided in the very small print on the reverse of the scratchcards, whereas the details of the premium rate entry routes were given prominence on the front.

Gr8 Games Limited and its officers have provided the OFT with binding undertakings, under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002, in relation to future contraventions of the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations and the Lotteries and Amusements Act. If the undertakings are breached the OFT could seek a court injunction.
Failure to obey a court injunction could result in proceedings for contempt of court.

The OFT worked closely with the Advertising Standards Authority, ICSTIS, and trading standards services in collecting evidence for this case.  This is the latest enforcement action taken by the OFT against deceptive premium rate prize promotions.

Christine Wade, Director of Consumer Regulation Enforcement, said:- "These scratchcards were highly misleading and encouraged consumers to call or text the premium rate numbers in the hope of receiving a major cash prize. The OFT will continue to crack down on promotions that make misleading claims which harm consumers interests."

Dog training - it could save your dog's life says PDSA

PDSA has embarked on a mission to encourage all dog owners to teach their dogs the basic commands of sit, heel, stay, come and drop. Why? Because it could save your dog’s life!

Dogs rely on us to let them know when they are behaving badly or are in danger, so PDSA is urging owners to start a training programme as soon as possible.  Signalling to a dog to leave or drop dangerous items such as a rough stick or glass bottle, could help to prevent serious injury. Glass bottles can break inside the mouth resulting in serious cuts, and sticks can break-up and become embedded deep in a dog’s mouth! Equally, if your dog accidentally slips his lead and darts off towards a busy road, the ‘come’ command could help prevent serious injury to your dog and the public!

To start owners on their way, PDSA has produced a free Dog Training leaflet, which offers guidance on the most useful commands and most effective training techniques.
Statistics from the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Scheme, which encourages organisations to promote responsible dog ownership, show a considerable growth both in dog training courses being offered, and participants taking part over the past few years. Last year over 35,000 dogs were enrolled in training classes at various difficulty levels.

PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury comments:- “Sadly, I feel that there are still too many untrained dogs around! The benefits of a trained dog are considerable. Some dogs can easily become distracted by other dogs, traffic or people when out walking, so knowing that you have complete control should make your life, and that of your dog, much more happy.  Training is also a great way of reinforcing the bond between an owner and their dog. With the lighter nights now upon us, more and more people are venturing out for long evening strolls with their dogs, which means good behaviour is very important.”

PDSA recommends using a combination of voice and hand signals and advises owners to use positive techniques when training their dog - rewarding them for good behaviour with treats or extra attention.

The Dog Training leaflet forms part of a larger range of Responsible Pet Care leaflets produced by PDSA. These leaflets cover a variety of pet care topics including, First Aid, Diet and Nutrition and Vaccinations. The leaflets are available from PDSA PetAid hospitals and charity shops nationwide. Further information can be obtained from www.pdsa.org.uk or by calling freephone 0800 917 2509.

 

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