Coral Interactive has been forced to admit that it cocked up the targeting of an email marketing campaign – offering free bets on Euro 2016 – by sending it to customers who had been barred from such offers because they had already won too many wagers.
The email, sent in June just before the Euros kicked off, stated: “Bet £/€20 on any team to win the Euros & get a free £/€10 bet every time a British or Irish team scores in the first round of matches…”
But when some recipients tried to cash in the offer, they were told that it was not actually meant for them because they had “restricted accounts” because they were punters who had taken the bookies to the cleaners once too often.
The Horserace Bettors Forum recently claimed as many as 40,000 accounts of British-based punters have been restricted in the past six months, while 20,000 have been closed due to the fact that they have beaten the bookies at their own game once too often.
Coral’s actions sparked a number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.
When challenged, the bookie claimed the email contained a targeted promotion which was only valid for selected customers, but due to “human error” it had been sent to customers who were restricted from receiving free bets and therefore would not have been able to claim the promotion.
The firm went on to explain that when it realised the error (presumably after being inundated by disgruntled gamblers), it had taken immediate steps to rectify it. Coral sent a follow-up email to advise those customers that they were in fact not eligible and apologised for any inconvenience caused.
However, the damage had already been done as far as the ASA was concerned.
In its ruling, the regulator said that anyone receiving the email would rightly expect to have been able to take advantage of the free bet offer. But due to the balls-up, those customers had been caused “unnecessary disappointment”.
Moreover, because the ad implied that anyone receiving the email was eligible, when that was not the case, the ASA concluded that it was misleading, although it did welcome Coral’s willingness to take steps to rectify the error.
Ruling that the ad must not appear again in its current form, the watchdog warned Coral that, in future, it should be much more careful with its promotional activity.
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