Win A House raffles have taken another twist with the news that Millionaire Mansion has closed early. This competition was originally earmarked to close in November 2018. However the promoters controversially extended this deadline by an entire 12 months. This decision resulted in us having to not recommend the competition to visitors of Loquax. Surprisingly an the competition’s closure was made to entrants via email on the 26th June 2019. Unsurprisingly the closure wasn’t because a house winner was to be created. And in a further twist – just one week later – ASA ruled on the competition’s extended deadline.
Cash Prize Winner
In the email the promoters, Ogilvie Promotions Limited, state that they feel that they have no choice but to end the competition. They cite that operating the competition at been “very difficult and obstacles relentless”. The email goes on to say that complaints have been made to ASA and “to date this has cost us a significant amount in legal fees”. On a positive note, the email concludes that although not enough tickets were sold to award the property, cash prizes and charity contributions were to be honoured.
The winner was announced as Michael Salmon and 9 further runners-up winners were also named on the website. The runners-up are Jolanta Bloomfield, Josette Shaw, Edward Fleet, Faye Fulton, Oliver Moore, Daniel Lee Crooke, Isla Jarvis-Versnick, Julien Speed and Elaine Green. The 20% of tickets sales charity contributions were split amongst a number of good causes include Make A Wish Foundation, British Red Cross and Marine Conservation Society. The amounts paid to these causes hasn’t been announced, although if they were it’d give us some indication of the number of tickets actually sold.
Significant Legal Fees
Since the closure of the competition, Millionaire Mansion have removed their Facebook page and deactivated the website, leaving just a holding page detailing the winners and charity beneficiaries. This kind of thing is incredibly annoying because it prevents participants reviewing things like terms and conditions or discussing the competition. Understandably the promoters may not want more difficulties although to be fair the majority of them have been down to their own actions. Extending the competition by 12 months was always going to cause a backlash and we’re only surprised it’s taken ASA this long to investigate.
On the subject of ASA we do find the “significant amount in legal fees” line within the email by Millionaire Mansion to be interesting. We’re unclear as to why Millionaire Mansion have incurred such fees. As far as we understand the complaints process: ASA receive a complaint and they choose to investigate. They communicate their communication with the company being investigated who have the right to reply. Once they’ve replied – or even if they don’t – ASA then go on to make a decision. The need for legal representation is limited.
The legal costs confusion continues when you review ASA’s ruling on Millionaire Mansion. Eight complainants questioned the closing date extension and ASA upheld the complaint. Ogilvie’s response to the complaints doesn’t exactly scream expensive legal fees. The promoters suggest that as entrants had a contract with the promoter then the terms allowed the extension. They then go on to say the competition had challenges due to “technical issues and serious and prolonged illness of a key member of Ogilvie’s staff”.
Interestingly one key part of the response is “in response to the ASA’s investigation, Ogilvie stated that they intended to close the competition on 30 June 2019”. It does seem to us that Millionaire Mansion have pulled the plug because they knew what was coming from ASA’s ruling. By getting out before the ASA ruling was published they’ve avoided flak from original entrants and negative comments in the run up to the November 2019 deadline. ASA’s ruling also meant they couldn’t extend the competition further!
The big mystery surrounding Millionaire Mansion is how many tickets were sold? At this time we don’t know how much of the income generated was eaten up by advertising, marketing and that “significant amount in legal fees”. What we do know is that their terms stated that the in the event of a cash prize “40% for administration/promotion costs or the actual costs” would be taken. Additionally, in the event of a cash settlement, the minimum payout would be £100,000. Given that £190,000 was actually paid out we can summise that this should represent the other 40% as the other 20% went to charity.
If the cash prizes do represent 40% of the ticket sales then that means just £475,000 was generated during the 18 months of Millionaire Mansion. That equates to just 47,500 tickets sold – which seems pretty poor given the promotion and publicity this competition courted. Win A Mega Home sold 30,000 tickets at a much higher price over a shorter period. Unfortunately unless a charity reveals their received donation or Millionaire Mansion show transparency we’ll never actually know how many tickets were sold – or how far away they were from giving the house as a prize.
Millionaire Mansion should be a lesson for all future win a home raffle organisers. Either see it as a reason not to undertake such a venture, or learn from their mistakes. The biggest one was changing the closing date by 12 months and being arrogant enough to assume it wouldn’t be a problem. We’re glad ASA ruled on this decision because it was shockingly bad. However there were other issues too. Unbeknownst to our users we had a request for our review to be removed when we put a “Not Recommended” notice on Loquax. If we didn’t comply then that would result in legal action. Our review remained!
The identity of the owners of the property has never been revealed. The promotion was always done by Ogilive Promotions Limited. This immediately shrouded the competition in mystery. Every other win a house raffle has had identifiable owners. Even the location of the property was a mystery. At one stage of the competition we were asked to remove the location of the property from our database. Given that arson attacks had recently occurred on Millionaire Mansion advertising that was understandable at that time.
The sudden closure and ASA ruling seems to be a fitting end of the line of Millionaire Mansion. Whilst it’s nice to see a big cash winner and charitable donations, this competition has not endeared itself to us at Loquax HQ. With other competitions not even coming close to creating a raffle winner, we didn’t believe a 12 month extension would improve Millionaire Mansion’s chances of emulating Win A Country Home.
In fact it’d be interesting to see where ticket sales vs expenditure were as of November 2018 and then compare it the actual closing date. The decision to extend can’t have been because the competition was close to completion. Hopefully in time we’ll be able to piece together the holes in the Millionaire Mansion competition. We know other media outlets are posing questions about ticket sales, finances and legal costs (Devon Online). Will there be more fallout from this competition if those answers are found?