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Advertiser: Volkswagen Group Ireland Ltd
Medium: Online - Company Website
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10
The Volkswagen Ireland website promoted the Volkswagen Service Promise which stated:
Better Service. Better Value.
Enjoy the confidence of our 10 point Service Promise.
We want you to feel confident about the quality of service you’ll receive – every time you visit us. That’s why, together with our network of Volkswagen Authorised Service Centres, we’ve devised the ‘Volkswagen Service Promise’ – 10 promises designed to help you manage the cost of motoring and make your life easier.
Each promise was then listed from 1 to 10. Promise number 8 stated:
“8. A range of convenient services to suit your needs.
We promise to help you get on with your life. You can avail of our replacement car offers; we can pick up and drop your car back to you, or even give you a lift into work, home or town. Just tell us which you’d prefer and we’ll sort it out. Our clean, modern facilities are great for catching up with emails and messages. They’re also great for relaxing with hot and cold drinks and the latest papers and magazines. Just tell us in advance which you’d prefer and we’ll sort it out.”
The complainant considered that point 8 of the service promise was misleading as he had been unable to avail of any of the services offered after booking his car in for a service with his local dealer. The complainant said that he was advised by the dealer that they provided a free shuttle bus into the city centre between the hours of 10am and 1pm only and that as his service was booked in for 2pm, he could not avail of this service. They also advised him that all vehicles available for loan were allocated to other customers and that the collection and delivery of cars was also only available to 1pm. He said that he advised the dealer that he was unhappy with this and was advised that they would try and arrange for a lift for him. The complainant queried the matter with Volkswagen Ireland directly and was advised that it was at the discretion of the participating dealers whether they participated in the Service Promise or not and what services they provided. In view of this the complainant considered the statement on the Volkswagen Ireland website was misleading.
The advertisers said that they had been in contact with the dealer in question. They said that as part of their Service Promise, alternative transport was always offered and this could either be a replacement car, a pick up and drop off, or a lift to work, home or town. They said that when the customer contacted the dealership to make the service booking, the customer enquired about alternative transport and was advised that a convenient non-stop shuttle service was available from 8am to 1pm each day. They said that these times did not suit the complainant and he then asked for a replacement car and was advised that there was no replacement car available on that day and was instead offered a lift to his destination.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the Service Promise offer was advertised generally on the Volkswagen Ireland website and that it was provided by their authorised service centres.
They noted that the advertising presented three options and said “Just tell us in advance which you’d prefer and we’ll sort it out.” As it was not the case that all options would always be available, the Committee considered the advertising was likely to mislead by exaggeration and was in breach of Section 4.4 of the Code.
ACTION REQUIRED: The advertisement should not appear in its current format again.