Wednesday, September 29 2010, 12:30 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,
Sky has been rapped over a promotion that offered Marks & Spencer vouchers to new subscribers after more than 40 customers complained that they did not arrive as promised.
The satellite broadcaster ran a series of promotions offering new customers £50 worth of Marks & Spencer's vouchers when they signed up online.
However, 42 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the fairness and efficiency of the promotion, because their vouchers had not arrived "within the designated timeframe".
In response, Sky argued that a "huge number" of customers had received their vouchers without incident, while the complainants were in a "considerable minority".
After an investigation, the company found that heavy demand over the Christmas period had meant that certain customers did not receive their vouchers within the initial 30-day deadline.
Other vouchers were not delivered due to "human error" at the call centre level or being lost in the post.
Sky said that changes made over the last couple of months to its internal procedures had meant vouchers were now being sent to customers "well within" the new 45-day limit.
However, the ASA criticised Sky's "failure to cope" with the high demand over the Christmas period, as well as the instances of human error that led to some customers not receiving their vouchers in time.
"Despite the improvements Sky had incorporated in the administration of the voucher promotion, we were concerned that the terms of the offer stated that vouchers would be sent within thirty days of activating viewing, which, unfortunately, Sky had not been able to meet for a number of customers," said the ASA.
"We concluded therefore that the offer had not been administered satisfactorily and had caused unnecessary disappointment to those consumers."
The ASA said that the promotion must not continue in its current form "unless Sky is able to demonstrate that the offer will be fulfilled within the terms specified".
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