Who: Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”), Opodo Ltd (“Opodo“)
When: 16 December 2015
Law stated as at: 21 January 2016
The ASA upheld a complaint in relation to online travel agency, Opodo’s, flight comparison search tool, which allowed consumers to search for and purchase low-priced flights. When searching for the cheapest return flights to Mumbai and selecting the “cheapest method” payment option, the complainant noticed that the prices shown in their flight search results included a pre-applied discount that was only available to consumers paying for their flights via Entropay, a pre-paid visa card.
Small text under each flight result stated “The best price available includes a discount and is available when paying with Entropay” However, the ad did not make clear that the card in question required consumers to load funds into the account via bank transfer before it could be used or that fees were payable for loading funds onto the card. The ASA held that this omission was likely to mislead consumers.
The ASA also considered that only a small proportion of consumers coming to the ad would have an existing Entropay account and that of these, only a small proportion again would have already loaded funds onto their card. Therefore the average consumer was unlikely to be able purchase a flight at a stated Entropay price without incurring the additional cost of loading funds onto the card.
This meant that in some instances adding the Entropay fees onto the total price would mean that it was not the cheapest payment option, thereby again making the ad misleading in the view of the ASA.
Accordingly the complaint was upheld.
Why this matters:
This ruling serves as a reminder of the requirement for advertisers to show accurate prices that the majority of consumers can obtain without incurring additional third party costs.