Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Trailfinders Ltd (Trailfinders)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 15 June 2022
Law stated as at: 8 July 2022
A brochure for Trailfinders Australia and Pacific 2021 – 2022 holidays contained text under individual holidays stating “Trailfinders Offers – 3rd night free – free room upgrade”. Text further on in the brochure stated “Due to the complexity, dynamism and varied restrictions that apply to special offers, we only give a general indication of available offers. Please call for full details” and “Special offers can be withdrawn or amended at any time”. The ad was challenged as to whether it was misleading as the complainant, who booked a holiday based on the offer, was told the holiday was not available on the chosen dates.
The ASA considered that consumers who saw the ad would expect to receive the “3rd night free” and “free room upgrade” offers if they booked the holiday advertised. Although the ad also stated on the page that the price was a “GUIDE PRICE” and instructed readers to “Call for latest price & offers“, the ASA said that while it was likely to be interpreted by consumers to mean that a price might be subject to change, the ASA considered it was unlikely consumers would understand it to mean that restrictions and exclusions applied to the offers listed.
The ASA noted there was no mention of the terms and conditions on the holiday page (they were only mentioned at the back of the brochure) and therefore they were not sufficient to counter the impression that there were no limitations on the “3rd night free” and “free room upgrade“. Even if the terms and conditions had been included on the holiday page, the ASA considered it did not explain sufficiently clearly the significant information the offers would only ever be available for certain dates, were limited in number and the two offers listed were not available together.
The ASA therefore concluded that because the ad did not make it sufficiently clear the offers were subject to restrictions and did not include significant information about the restrictions, the ad was misleading.
Why this matters:
The ASA have made it clear in this ruling that if a business is advertising offers which are subject to restrictions, these restrictions must be made sufficiently clear. Additionally, the ruling suggests that by simply including terms and conditions elsewhere in the ad is not a sufficiently clear way to flag these restrictions to consumers. Businesses should therefore ensure that, if advertising offers are subject to restrictions, these should be unambiguous and clear and that they are ideally on the same page and obvious to the consumer.