“The website stated Brownstown Manor, The Curragh, Newbridge, Co. Kildare. €289,000 4 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms, Detached House.
Within minutes of the M7/M9 motorways, Newbridge, Naas and Kilcullen, all of which provide excellent schools, shops, public transport facilities. Dublin City Centre is also only 35 minutes away, making commuting to and from The Capital hassle free.”
The complainant said the advertisement was misleading because it claimed the property being advertised was 35 minutes from Dublin City Centre. He said this was clearly not the case as a search on Google Maps revealed that at peak times the travel time from the property to Dublin City Centre typically ranged from 45 minutes to one hour and five minutes. He said he believed anecdotal evidence supported the fact that travel times leaned more heavily towards the one hour mark and he based his assumption that anyone travelling to Dublin from the address would have considered the commute time to Dublin during peak hours. He said he believed this would have been an essential factor for prospective buyers when considering whether to purchase such a property.
The advertisers stated that when advertising a development every effort was made to insure all information was correct an in no circumstances would they set out to falsely advertise a property.
They provided a Google Maps journey outlining a time of 36 minutes (the map detailed a journey from the development to a point on the R110 outside the Grand Canal). They said they appreciated that times could vary and in no way had they tried to deceive.
The Executive carried out their own AA Route Planner and Google Map Planner searches from Brownstown Manor to Dublin City Centre and from the Property to Newbridge. We found the AA Route Planner showed an estimated time of 46 minutes from Newbridge to Dublin and Google Maps showed an estimated time of 46 minutes. The AA Route Planner showed an estimated time of 12 minutes from Property to Newbridge and an estimated time of 13 minutes with Google Maps.
The advertisers were asked to comment on these findings. They stated that the maps provided by ASAI were not reflective of how they would proceed on travelling to Dublin (via Clondalkin and the M50). They said in all their years working in Dublin they never went either of these routes to get into same.
They pointed out that the development was now sold and they had never received a complaint from any of the purchasers, the bulk of whom commuted daily.
The Executive asked Dublin City Council (DCC) whether there was a definition for ‘Dublin City Centre’. The DCC said that while the ‘inner city’ was defined as between the two canals, there was no definition for Dublin ‘city centre’.
Further journey planning searches were carried out AA Roadwatch & Route Planner and Google Maps for Brownstown to O’Connell Street, with the estimated times being was 53 minutes and 1 hour and 10 minutes without traffic.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response and noted that the development had been sold.
The Committee noted that the claim in relation to travel time was to ‘Dublin City Centre’ and gave consideration to what would the reasonable person understand to be ‘Dublin City Centre’. They noted that while Dublin City Council described the inner city as being between the two canals, they did not have a definition for ‘city centre’. The Committee was of the view that a reasonable understanding of ‘city centre’ would be Dublin’s O’Connell street and its immediate environs.
They noted that while the advertisers did provide Google Maps print outs, outlining the time of 36 minutes, it was not clear from the printout exactly where on the R110 the journey had terminated; it had not however terminated in the City centre.
The advertisement had claimed a travel time to Dublin City Centre but as the evidence provided had been for a travel time to a point outside the Grand Canal, the Committee considered that the advertisement was likely to be misleading and in breach of Code Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form, however, as the development had been sold no further action was required.