As our hole in one season begins to wind down for another year, I’m reminded of an incident that was reported earlier this year in the Telegraph newspaper, about a Hole in One winner suing a Golf club for trying to give him a prize worth half the prize advertised.
As the Telegraph reported, Jake Warner, 24, hit a 202-yard hole-in-one at Haverhill Golf Club, Suffolk, during a £10-a-head event.
Understandably delighted, Mr Warner posed for a photograph with what he thought was his prize, a new five-door 1.6TDi Vauxhall Corsa worth £14,000. You can forgive Mr Warner for believing he had won that exact car, given the fact it was adorned with the slogan: “Win this car if you get a hole-in-one.”!
However, when he went to collect the vehicle a few days later, Mr Warner was horrified to find the golf club was offering him a basic £6,500 basic model instead, which was the vehicle detailed in the terms and conditions. Mr Warner chose not to accept the lesser prize though and fought the golf club, eventually taking the matter to court.
Unfortunately, despite the fact the club did display a vehicle twice the value as the prize, Mr Warner lost on the basis of a legal loop hole. The court ruled that because Mr Warner hadn’t seen the car before entering the competition, he couldn’t have thought he was playing to win that exact car. Therefore, it was adjudged that it wasn’t the basis of his decision to enter the competition in the first place.
Despite receiving an out of court settlement for the value of the basic model car from the insurer covering the event, having lost the court case, Mr Warner was left in debt by nearly twice the amount in legal fees! This apparently had a big impact on Mr Warner’s life, even forcing the poor man to re-mortgage his house, having spent all his savings for his upcoming wedding on his legal bills!
Aside from the obvious negatives to Mr Warner, and despite the court ruling, the whole episode is disastrous PR. Not only for the golf club, but the sponsor and by association, the insurance company.
As we now live in an age of social media, where people’s views, experiences and displeasure with a competition, brand and company can be aired so quickly, publicly and repeatedly. Is ignoring these lessons not gambling with brand equity and going against the very reason for such competitions in the first place?
There are almost certainly lessons for us all in this, not just those involved in running hole in one competitions. Terms and conditions should be visible and accessible to all entrants. The promoter should also ensure the terms and conditions are clearly understood and accepted. Finally, prizes should be accurately displayed and of course, only done so if the promoter is willing and able to award them, should there be a winner!