Shearings Holidays advertised three day “All-inclusive breaks” but it turned out this only applied if you normally took lunch once every three days. A punter complained to the ASA but Shearings claimed “All-inclusive” had a special industry meaning which meant this was fine. Omar Bucchioni reports the perhaps inevitable result.
Topic: Misleading advertising
Who: Shearings Holidays Ltd t/a Bay Hotels
When: February 2011
Where: Advertising Standards Authority
Law stated as at: 25 February 2011
Recently the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated a national press ad for Shearings Holidays Ltd.
The press ad stated “Summer just got longer … 3 nights for the Price of 2 continues … With fantastic deals on Autumn getaways plus the added bonus of ALL INCLUSIVE breaks and CABARET WEEKENDS at selected hotels … From £27 Per person Per night including: Dinner, Bed & Breakfast”.
One complainant queried whether the claim “ALL INCLUSIVE” was misleading, since having chosen a holiday marked in the ad as all inclusive, he was told that only one lunch per holiday was allowed and the availability of drinks was limited.
What Shearings Holidays had to say
Shearing Holidays Ltd (Shearings) said that the wording “all inclusive” was an industry term that meant different things in different circumstances.
They said the terms of their “all inclusive” offer were highlighted to customers making bookings and, in their coach and self-drive business, the term was generally accepted to mean some kind of drinks package, as well as dinner and breakfast each day and one lunch, during each stay.
What the ASA had to say
The national press ad was misleading: Upheld
The ASA Council (Non-broadcast) considered that consumers were likely to interpret “all inclusive” to mean that, as a minimum, all food and non-alcoholic drinks were included in the price and throughout the duration of their stay.
In addition, the ASA noted customers were limited to one lunch regardless of the length of stay and inclusive drinks between 19.30 and 22.30 only and the ASA considered that those limitations contradicted the “all inclusive” claim instead of clarifying it and concluded that the ad was misleading and breached the Code – i.e. CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 (Qualification).
Why this matters:
A couple of points to take away from this adjudication:
1. An “all inclusive” claim must not be used if there are significant limitations to the offer.
2. An “all inclusive” claim should not be used unless the entire cost service/product/offer is genuinely included in the overall price, or at least all material conditions/exclusions/caveats must be stated in the main body of the ad and the headline must be consistent with the conditions/exclusions.
The case is reported on the ASA website.