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Product: Travel (Car Rental)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.9, 4.10, 4.22, 4.27
The email advertisement was received after an individual booked flights on the advertisers’ website setting out the reservation number, the destination, the departure date and time, and estimated arrival time.
Under this was a photograph of a woman and two children with a promotional bubble which stated, “Up to 20% Off CAR HIRE”. Below the image, text stated “[name of individual], get up to 20% off Car Hire in [Destination]. Our winter car hire sale is now on!” Book your car hire with us and enjoy our Price Match Guarantee. Plus, free cancellation on most cars. Book now Cars recommended for you:”
Two cars were shown: The Fiat 500 “or similar” was advertised as being available for hire from £5.59 per day and the Ford Fiesta “or similar” as being available from £19.27 per day. Beside each car listing was text which stated, “no amendment fees” and below, in a smaller font, next to an asterix, was a disclaimer stating that the word “From”’ in relation to the listed prices was “accurate as of 29/11/21 and subject to change”. It also said to visit their site for the most up to date prices.
The complainant said that the advertisement for car hire was sent to them via email having booked a holiday through the Ryanair site. The complainant stated that the prices shown in the advertisement for care hire were a quarter of the prices listed on the site in the booking phase. The complainant said that upon calculating the total cost of the Fiat 500 hire for 7 days as per the advertised price, it came to £39.13, however when attempting to book, the price rose by £131.93 excluding the additional cost of £52.01 for insurance cover.
The advertisers said that they rejected the complaint that the advertisement was in breach of the misleading advertising rules. They said that the car hire listings in the advertisement were displayed by a widget which did not use details of the complainant’s flight booking to calculate the price. Further to this they stated that because of this, the prices displayed within the advertisement’s widget were not guaranteed to match the prices listed on the website. Considering this, they did not believe there was evidence to suggest the claims made in the advertisement were false, misleading, or unsubstantiated. The advertisers said that the advertisement showed prices relevant to the products displayed but that the prices were not pertinent to the complainant’s flight booking.
For these reasons, they did not believe their advertisement was in breach of the Code.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Complaints Committee noted that the email advertisement referenced the flight booking details of the complainant, and addressing them by name, invited them to “get up to 20% off car hire …” and recommended two cars to them. Whilst noting the commentary that the price information was displayed by a widget which was not pertinent to the complainant’s flight booking, the Committee considered that it was likely that consumers would understand that the information was pertinent to their booking, given the references to the booking details at the top of the advertisement and the fact that they were addressed by name. In these circumstances, they considered that the email advertising was likely to mislead and was therefore in breach of Section 4.1 of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.