The email which the complainant received referred to the following:
“50% Guaranteed off every seat
For 5 days only, we’re taking a guaranteed 50% off fares from London to Ireland. Take advantage of this great deal and plan an escape to Ireland from 1 December to 25 March. Book by Friday, 28 November.
50% off five destinations in Ireland
Dublin 50% off
Belfast 50% off
Knock 50% off
Cork 50% off”
The terms and conditions attached to the offer in the footnote of the email referred to the following:
“50% discount applies to fares before taxes and charges. Discount does not apply to infant fares. Where the base fare is zero, no discount can apply to the zero fare. Available for travel from 01 December – 25 March, excluding the Christmas period from 20 December - 05 January. Book by 28 November…”
The Secretariat noted that the information in relation to the exclusion of the Christmas period from the offer was contained within the body of the email to Irish consumers. It was, however, only contained within the footnote to UK residents. They also noted that the headline offer referred to every seat.
The complainant said that he tried to book a flight home for his friend from the UK to Ireland for Christmas 2014, he was surprised to be unable to get a discount on the flight he wished to book. It was only when he looked at the terms and conditions, attached to the offer, which he considered to be in small print, that he discovered that the Christmas period was excluded from the offer. Yet, he said, the advertisement had guaranteed 50% off ‘every’ seat from 1st December to 25th March. He considered the advertising to be misleading.
The advertisers were initially confused as to whether the advertisement related to the Irish or UK market. The Secretariat pointed out that as the flights were being booked from the UK to Ireland the complaint referred to the UK market. The advertisers said that they would provide a response but to date no response has been received.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and expressed their concern at the advertisers’ failure to respond in any substantial way to the complaint. They reminded them that there is an onus on all advertisers to ensure that their advertising is in conformity with the Code and were critical of the delays involved in trying to obtain a substantive reply from the advertisers. The Committee upheld the Complaint under Section 2.7 of the Code.
The Committee also noted that the advertisement referred to every seat being included in the offer. They referred to earlier decisions where they upheld complaints against advertisers making global claims with follow up qualifications in the terms and conditions of the advertising. They also upheld the complaint under Section 2.24 of the Code.
Action Required: The advertising should not reappear in its current format.