Advertisements from two travel companies have been criticised by ad watchdog

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Advertisements from two travel companies have been criticised by the Advertisement Standards Authority (ASA).

The findings into the two complaints (which date back to September and October 2016) were released in the first week on the peak holiday season. An ASA spokesperson said that this release was not specifically timed to coincide with the peak time.

“It’s about giving the advertisers the right to defend their ad and obviously investigating it thoroughly, to make sure all the evidence has been taken on-board.”

The rulings involved Lastminute.com and Ryanair.

Lastminte.com New York trip

In September, lastminute.com was offering New York holidays for £569. A holidaymaker complained to the ASA they had to pay an extra £70.77.

In response to the ASA, lastminute.com said if an airline seat or hotel room sold out at the displayed price during the booking process, or after the booking request was submitted, they would always try to find a suitable alternative with no price change to the customer, and if that was not possible, they would offer the same or similar option with additional surcharge that would allow them to confirm the booking request.

They said that they always offered customers the option not to proceed with the booking if that was no longer suitable for them.

The ASA noted that approximately an hour after making a booking request for the package at the quoted price (which included making the payment), the complainant was informed that the price had increased and they would need to pay an additional sum of £70.77 in order to maintain the booking.

Because the package was not available at the price quoted in the ad, the ASA concluded that the price statement was misleading.

BravoNext SA t/a Lastminute.com was told that the ad must not appear again in the form complained about and ordered to ensure that in future it “could demonstrate that holiday packages were available at the prices for which they were advertised at the time they were seen by consumers”.

When asked if holidaymakers looking for bargains should be sceptical about travel ads, the spokesperson said:

“They should be confident that ads are upfront, clear and truthful.
“In our experience there isn’t a widespread problem, occasionally advertisers get it wrong.”

Ryanair’s TV ad

The second travel company criticised by the ASA was Ryanair. Its ad from October was found to be in breach of three advertising rules.

The onscreen text “Fly from £19.99” was followed by larger text saying “Summer 2017 on sale now”. The offer did not apply to summer flights. The video is shown below.

The ASA said that the wording could be interpreted as meaning that summer flights were part of the sales promotion.

Ryanair defended the ad by saying that the “Summer 2017” text was a subsidiary message that appeared separately at the end of the advert. It also added that there was a small onscreen disclaimer throughout the ad. The disclaimer said that the offer only applied to travel before the end of March.

Ryanair was told to ensure that their advertising made clear which claims the qualifications applied to in order to avoid giving a misleading impression to consumers.

Not all ads are found to be in breach of the rules

There were four rulings released, the complaints about ads from London City Airport and Expedia were rejected. The ASA spokesperson said:

“Fundamentally the travel industry has responded to our guidance and the clarity of the rules and they are generally upfront about the fees that people are going to be paying.”

The ASA has a guide for holidaymakers

Consumers that believe that an advert is misleading, or if a service of product was not purchased for the advertised price, should contact the ASA online or by calling 020 7492 2222.