Ryanair and LastMinute.com adverts banned for 'misleading' customers
Ryanair and LastMinute.com been rapped over the knuckles by the advertising watchdog for trying to entice customers into buying flights and holiday deals with “misleading” advertisements.
Separate complaints against the two companies have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority, while the two adverts in question have been banned.
A Ryanair television advert seen in October last year was found to be in breach of three broadcast advertising rules after on-screen text saying “Fly from £19.99” was followed by larger text, which read “Summer 2017 on sale now”, despite the offer not applying to summer flights.
The airline, whose controversial CEO Michael O’Leary last year revealed ambitions to make air travel free in the next “five to 10 years”, argued that the “Summer 2017” text was a subsidiary message that appeared separately at the end of the advert, adding that there was a small on-screen disclaimer throughout the commercial that the offer only applied to travel before the end of March.
But the ASA ruled that the wording was “ambiguous” and said viewers were likely to understand the advert to mean that flights for summer 2017 were available from £19.99.
“While we noted that the £19.99 offer was qualified by small text stating the start and end dates for the promotion, we considered that, given the conjunction of the offer with the claim ‘Summer 2017 on sale now’, the qualification was not sufficiently prominent to correct the overall impression that summer 2017 flights were included in the sale,” the watchdog said in its assessment.
A Ryanair spokesman said: "Ryanair disagrees with this ASA ruling, but has taken note of it in relation to future ads."
It was similarly scathing of an online advert seen on website LastMinute.com in September, which promised deals of “£569 Price per person Flight + hotel”.
The ASA received a complaint after a customer booked the package but was then told the advertised price was no longer available. She was then told she would have to pay an additional £70.77.
Despite the website’s claims that the offers “were dynamic and their availability was subject to change at any time”, the ASA found that the price statement was misleading.
It said: “Approximately an hour after making a booking request for the package at the quoted price, 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.”