In teletext advertising, fly drive holidays to Florida were described by Travel City as costing “From £49″.
Who: Travel City and the ITC
When: June 2000
In teletext advertising, fly drive holidays to Florida were described by Travel City as costing "From £49". This was in large letters in the centre of the screen, while in smaller lettering at the bottom appeared: "comp all/inc car fr £159/wk".
When the complainant enquired about the offer he discovered that this referred to compulsory car insurance that had to be taken out as part of the package, starting at £159 a week, thus bringing the true minimum price for the holiday to over £200.
The ITC accepted that the DTI’s Code of Practice on Price Indications (the "Highway Code" for advertisers wanting to avoid giving a misleading price indication and a prosecution under the 1987 Consumer Protection Act) allowed the separate quoting of compulsory charges in ads as opposed to the use of all-inclusive prices.
This was on condition, however, that the advertisement was not thereby made misleading. In this case, the ITC considered that the ambiguous abbreviations in small print and at the bottom of the screen were likely to be either overlooked or not understood by viewers and upheld the complaint that the advertisement was misleading.
Why this matters:
The "From £X" price claim is still alive and well and not necessarily illegal per se, but particularly where there are additional compulsory charges, best practice must be to ensure that the "X" in "From £X" is an all-inclusive price. The case also highlights that the now worse for wear, 1988 vintage Code of Practice for Traders on Price Indications, whilst still in the main a useful, practical guide to trouble-free price claims, is much in need of the revamp and new edition the Government has promised will happen this year.