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Adertising Standards Authority upholds complaint against easyJet advert

29th October 2008 - 06:51 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Ad
A regional press ad, for easyJet, stated "up to 65% cheaper than BA". The ad featured a list of seven destinations and quoted the BA price, the easyJet price and the savings that could be made by choosing to fly with easyJet. Small print stated "Prices based on looking to book cheapest available seat on ... for travel w/c ...".

Issue
British Airways (BA) thought that the ad was misleading because:

1. the prices quoted for BA flights to Faro and Alicante were not correct, and

2. none of the quoted savings amounted to 65%.
The CAP Code: 3.1;7.1;18.1;18.3;15.4

Response
1. easyJet said, as a result of human error, they had been unable to trace the relevant substantiation for the ad. They said appropriate steps were being taken to prevent such occurrences in future.

2. easyJet disagreed that the claim "up to 65% cheaper than BA" was misleading and pointed out that a comparison of the prices on each company's website showed that even greater savings were typically available. They stressed that the examples used in the ad were expressed in a clear and unambiguous manner stating the easyJet price for each route, the corresponding BA price and the saving expressed in monetary terms rather than percentages so that the saving was clearly presented. easyJet said while the examples in the ad did not amount to a 65% saving, and did not believe that was a requirement of the Code, they maintained that their flights were 65% cheaper than BA in many instances. On that basis, they believed the claim was factually accurate and not misleading.

Assessment
1. Upheld
The ASA noted easyJet had been unable to locate the relevant substantiation for the ad in question. We noted this was as a result of human error and that they were taking steps to avoid similar situations arising in future. We reminded easyJet to ensure they retained substantiation for future price comparisons. We concluded that, because we had not seen substantiation to show that the prices quoted for BA flights to Faro and Alicante were correct, the ad could mislead.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 18.1 (Fair comparison).

2. Upheld
We considered that readers of the ad were likely to infer from the claim "up to 65% cheaper than BA" that the figures in the "savings" column of the ad represented a range of savings of up to 65%. We noted the ad clarified that the prices were based on the cheapest seat available on a specific date for travel in a given period, but were concerned to note, however, none of the routes amounted to a saving of 65%. We considered that consumers were likely to be disappointed to find that that was the case. We noted easyJet believed the claim was factually accurate but had not substantiated their belief with documentary evidence. Because none of the easyJet fares quoted in the ad represented a saving of up to 65% on the BA fares, we concluded that the headline claim could mislead.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 15.4 (Prices), 18.1 and 18.3 (Fair comparison).

Action
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We reminded easyJet to hold substantiation for their claims and to ensure that savings claims did not exaggerate the extent of any saving to consumers.

 

The Shephard News Team

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