The website for Stansted Airport (seen on 14 July 2015) included claims such as “By Pre-booking your parking you could be SAVING UP TO 70%* … *See terms & conditions”.
This was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority after the complaint believed that this claim was misleading after searching parking rates. They had been quoted higher prices for 23-hour stays at both the Short Stay and the Mid Stay car parks than the ‘Turn Up and Park” rates for the equivalent duration and locations.
The airport operator said that 20% of their customers obtained savings of 70% or more, and it believed that the wording “could” and “up to” in the claim made clear that not every customer would achieve savings in every case and not every customer would make a saving of 70%.
MAG explained that car park stays for under 24 hours, or 24 hours that spanned two days, might not benefit from the pre-book savings offer as online prices were calculated on a ‘per day’ basis. The pre-book savings offer was dependent on the dates searched for by the customers.
The ASA acknowledged that the claim was conditional, which implied that customers might not benefit from the pre-book savings offer in every case.
It considered that consumers were likely to understand from the claim that they were more likely to obtain a lower price if they had “pre-booked”, and that, dependent on time of day and year, location and other factors, they could save as much as 70% compared to the equivalent ‘Turn Up and Park’ rate.
It did not consider that consumers would expect from that claim that they might be quoted a higher price for pre-booking than the price of the equivalent ‘Turn Up and Park’ services in some circumstances (such as car park stays that were shorter than 24 hours). This was considered as material information by the ASA and this had not been made clear in the ad.
The watchdog felt that the possibility of customers being quoted a higher price for pre-booking than the ‘Turn up and Park’ rate was not explained in the ad, so concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad must not appear in its current form again. MAG was told to ensure that future pre-booking savings claims made clear if there were circumstances under which the customer would pay a higher rate for pre-booking than the equivalent ‘Turn up and Park’ rates.