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Advertiser: Aer Lingus
Medium: Online - Company Website
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 5.15(a), 5.16
The advertisers’ website homepage included a rolling banner, one of which stated:
“Flexi Summer Flights
Free unlimited changes
Find out more”
Two complaints were received regarding the advertising.
A complainant considered that the reference to ‘Guaranteed vouchers’ was misleading as no reference had been made in the banner, or during the booking process, that terms and conditions applied. On enquiring about obtaining a voucher for their flight, the complainant was advised that the voucher had to be applied for 14 days in advance of their flight. In the circumstances, the complainant considered that the reference to ‘Guaranteed vouchers’ without any disclaimer was misleading.
A complainant considered that the banner advertising led consumers to believe that if they booked a flight that must be changed or cancelled, they had multiple options to recover the full cost of the flights booked. The complainant applied for a refund after booking their flight but was advised that the terms and conditions of the ticket they booked did not include the offer of a full cash refund, but that they could have applied for a refund voucher, however, they were too late to do so.
The advertisers said that since March 2020, the homepage banner was permanently on their website and that it linked to a page with all information about booking options including fare types, vouchers and other flexibility options. They said that the information regarding the application of a voucher was clearly mentioned at the top of the linked page as well as being within the FAQ at the bottom of that page. They also said that voucher applications for applicable fares were also mentioned when a customer was applying for a voucher within the FAQ’s of their voucher refund request form. In the circumstances, they believed that the information was clearly available and visible to customers who were looking for information on vouchers and booking options on their website.
The advertisers said that a full refund applied to certain fare types only and this had been clearly outlined with the booking flow of their website.
They said that the booking options on vouchers and refund terms and conditions were outlined from the permanent banner that had been on their website since March 2020. They said that the information was available when choosing a fare type and from the flexibility banner on their homepage, therefore, they did not believe that they had misled consumers on their refund and voucher options available.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Complaints Committee noted that while further information about the refund vouchers was available on clicking on the ‘find out more’ button, the banner had stated “Guaranteed vouchers” when in fact a voucher could only be obtained if applied for at least 14 days in advance of a customer’s flight. In the circumstances, the Committee considered that the requirement to apply for the voucher at least 14 days in advance of a customer’s flight was a major term and condition that should have been called out on the banner. In the absence of a reference to the term or to the fact that terms and conditions applied, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 5.15 (a) and 5.16 of the Code.
The Complaints Committee noted that while further information about the availability of cash refunds was available by clicking on the ‘find out more’ button, cash refunds were not available on all fare types. In the circumstances, the Committee considered that the reference to cash refunds should have included a disclaimer indicating that terms and conditions applied. In the absence of a reference to terms and conditions applying, the Committee considered that the advertisement was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 5.15 (a) and 5.16 of the Code.
The Complaints Committee told the advertisers to ensure that where offers were subject to terms and conditions, this fact was referenced in all marketing communications.