ASA Adjudication on Luminar Leisure Ltd
Luminar Leisure Ltd t/a
Lava & Ignite Hemel Hempstead
15 October 2008
Text Message, E-mail, Leaflet
Number of complaints:
Two text messages, two e-mails and a leaflet for Bank Holiday weekend events at the Lava & Ignite nightclub:
a. The first text message, dated 20 May 2008, stated "GET UR BANK HOL PASS 4 £10, MAY 23RD-MAY 26TH, 4NITES-ENTRY-Q-JUMP & A BOTTLE OF VK MOJITO ...".
b. The second text message, dated 24 May, stated "DON'T 4GET PURE R'N'B BANK HOLIDAY SUNDAY & DESTINY REUNION FOAM PARTY BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY, TICKETS AT WWW.LAVAIGNITE.COM/HEMEL ...".
c. The first e-mail, dated 19 April, stated " ... BIG BANK HOLIDAY WEEKENDER at LAVA & IGNITE HEMEL HEMPSTEAD!!!!! Yep that's right! We have another massive Bank Holiday Weekend lined up for you at the beginning of May!!!!! (WITH A DIFFERENCE!) Go to www.tick.it and buy your weekend passport for just £10!!! You get entry on all four nights, q-jump and a free bottle of Salitos ...YOU WON'T FIND A BETTER DEAL IN THE WHOLE OF HERTFORDSHIRE!!!!! ... Friday 2nd May … Saturday 3rd May … Bank Holiday Sunday 4th May … Bank Holiday Monday … Remember all this would cost you almost £50 but your passport will cost you ONLY £10 for FOUR nights of out of this world clubbing!!!! ...".
d. The second e-mail, dated 21 May, stated " ... ONLY £10 for FOUR NIGHTS of CLUBBING!!!! CLICK HERE NOW! ... FOR ONLY £10..yes £10 this is what you get ... Q-Jump, Entry, a bottle of Salitos on any or all nights - Friday May 23rd, Saturday May 24th, Bank Holiday Sunday May 25th and Bank Holiday Monday May 26th!!!! To come in on each of these nights individually, with a Q-Jump would actually cost you.....wait for it.....£36.95!!!!! ...".
e. The leaflet stated "THE Destiny REUNION foam party! Entry £5 ... BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY 26TH MAY 08 ... buy your advance tickets online now - www.lavaignite.com/hemel ...".
The complainant challenged:
1. whether the claim "Remember all this would cost you almost £50 ... for FOUR nights" in ad (c) and the claim "To come in on each of these nights individually, with a Q-Jump would actually cost you.....wait for it.....£36.95!!!!!" in ad (d) were misleading;
2. whether the weekend pass was available at the advertised price of £10, as claimed in ads (a), (c) and (d), because he believed the only means of purchasing it was through a website that imposed a compulsory booking fee of £1.95;
3. whether Luminar Leisure could demonstrate that they had reasonable grounds for believing they could satisfy demand for the weekend pass, because only 200 were available for a venue with a capacity for over 1000 people, and none of the ads for the pass, ads (a), (c) and (d), mentioned limited availability or a closing date for purchase;
4. whether ads (b) and (e) were misleading, because they implied tickets could be bought separately for the Sunday and Monday night events online; and
5. whether ads (a) and (d) were misleading, because they contradicted each other about the drink that was included in the price of a weekend pass.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Luminar Leisure said all their clubs offered a service called 'Fast Track', which provided a queue jumping facility and cost £2 per person. They provided information which showed that if admission, 'Fast Track' and a bottle of Salitos had all been purchased separately on each of the four nights on each Bank Holiday weekend, the total cost would have been £46.85 on each weekend. However, on the second Bank Holiday weekend, the customer had a choice of drink: Salitos or VK Mojito. If VK Mojito was purchased instead of Salitos on any or all of the nights except Monday, the total cost would have been slightly above £46.85. Luminar Leisure explained why one e-mail claimed that entry on all four nights plus 'Q-Jump' would normally cost almost £50 whereas another e-mail claimed that coming in on each night individually with 'Q-Jump' would cost £36.95: the centrally produced marketing material for the Bank Holiday weekend events offered a free bottle of Salitos on the customer's first visit only, which meant that the total cost of admission and 'Fast Track' on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, plus one bottle of Salitos on the first visit, would have been £36.75 (just short of the advertised £36.95). However, Lava & Ignite Hemel Hempstead had decided to strengthen the offer by giving away a free bottle on each of the four nights, taking the total cost of all the individual elements of the package to £46.85 or "almost £50".
Luminar Leisure argued that the inconsistency was caused by the strengthening of the actual and perceived value of the weekend pass to customers by including a free drink every night of the weekend instead of just one night.
2. Luminar Leisure confirmed that the only means of purchasing the weekend pass was through their online booking site, which charged a compulsory booking fee of £1.95. They said their marketing communications should have stated that purchases on that site were subject to terms and conditions, including a booking fee of £1.95, and they would ensure that the fee was referred to in future ads.
3. Luminar Leisure said the weekend pass was available to buy online until the Saturday evening of the Bank Holiday weekends. They were unable to explain why the complainant had found the weekend passes were no longer available to buy when he visited the online booking site on Friday 23 May and again on the afternoon of Saturday 24 May, because they had no issues with their national online ticket service on those days.
They stated that the capacity of the Hemel Hempstead club was 1,640 people. They sold 109 weekend passes for the Bank Holiday weekend of 2-5 May, which ad (c) referred to, and only 50 passes for the Bank Holiday weekend of 23-26 May, which ad (d) referred to. They said it was the first time they had run Bank Holiday weekend pass promotions. They also said only 200 weekend passes were on offer each Bank Holiday weekend to ensure that customers who bought them were able to gain access to the club.
4. Luminar Leisure stated that no online tickets were available individually for Sunday 25 or Monday 26 May because of a technical restriction on their system. They said customers could attend those nights either by purchasing an online weekend pass for the four nights or by purchasing individual tickets for the Sunday or Monday nights at the club.
5. The e-mails referred to a bottle of Salitos being included in the price of a weekend pass, whereas the text message indicated that the inclusive drink was VK Mojito. Luminar Leisure explained that the inclusive drink on the 2-5 May weekend was Salitos, as stated in ad (c). As a result of customer feedback they decided to offer either a bottle of Salitos or a bottle of VK Mojito on the 23-26 May weekend. Therefore, some of their marketing communications for that weekend referred to Salitos and some referred to VK Mojito. However, either drink was available at the club to customers with a weekend pass.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted ad (c) stated "You get entry on all four nights, q-jump and a free bottle of Salitos ... Remember all this would cost you almost £50 ... for FOUR nights ..."; we considered it implied that the weekend pass offered entry, 'Q-Jump' and a bottle of Salitos on all four nights, which would normally cost £50. Because it was correct that the individual components of the package would cost £46.85, or "almost £50", if purchased separately, we considered the claims in ad (c) were accurate.
Ad (d) stated "this is what you get ... Q-Jump, Entry, a bottle of Salitos on any or all nights ... To come in on each of these nights individually, with a Q-Jump would actually cost you.....wait for it.....£36.95!!!!!"; we considered it implied that 'Q-Jump', admission and a bottle of Salitos on all four nights would normally cost £36.95. We understood that it would actually cost £46.85. We considered that, although the ad contained a claim that was technically inaccurate, it understated the savings the weekend pass provided.
We considered the contradictory information in the two e-mails about the normal cost of the individual elements of the weekend pass was likely to have caused some confusion to consumers. However, although we considered Luminar Leisure should take more care in future to ensure that their marketing communications were consistent and did not contain contradictory information, we considered that in this particular case the discrepancy was unlikely to have materially misled or disadvantaged consumers.
On this point, we considered ads (c) and (d) under CAP Code clauses 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 15.5 (Prices) but did not find them in breach.
We noted Luminar Leisure intended to refer to the £1.95 booking fee in future marketing communications. However, because the fee was mandatory, we considered the ads that referred to the cost of the weekend pass should have stated the inclusive price - £11.95 - that had to be paid for it. We concluded that the weekend pass was not available at the advertised price of £10 and the ads were misleading.
On this point, ads (a), (c) and (d) breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 15.5 (Prices).
3. Not upheld
We noted Luminar Leisure had not offered similar passes before so had been unable to decide how many passes to offer based on the level of response to previous similar promotions. We noted none of the ads for the pass mentioned limited availability but considered that, because the passes had not sold out, such a statement would have been unnecessary. We also noted none of the ads mentioned a closing date for purchase. Although we considered that it would be good practice for Luminar Leisure to mention the closing date to buy tickets for similar events in future, we considered that in this particular case few consumers would want to buy a four night pass two days into the weekend and most would not have reasonably expected to be able to buy the passes after Saturday. Although we could not establish why the complainant had been unable to buy a pass online on Friday 23 May and on the afternoon of Saturday 24 May, we understood that passes were available until Saturday night. We concluded that Luminar Leisure had satisfied demand for the weekend pass.
On this point, we considered ads (a), (c) and (d) under CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 16.1 (Availability of products) but did not find them in breach.
Although we noted tickets for the Sunday and Monday night events could be bought at the club, we considered both ads (b) and (e) misleadingly suggested that tickets could be bought online for those individual events, because ad (b) stated "TICKETS AT WWW.LAVAIGNITE.COM/HEMEL" and ad (e) stated "buy your advance tickets online now - www.lavaignite.com/hemel".
On this point, ads (b) and (e) breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 15.5 (Prices).
5. Not upheld
We noted ad (c), which referred to the 2-5 May weekend, correctly stated that Salitos was the drink on offer as part of the pass for that particular weekend. We considered ad (a) implied VK Mojito was the only drink included in the pass for the 23-26 May weekend and ad (d) implied Salitos was the only drink included in the pass for the 23-26 May weekend, whereas we understood customers actually had a choice of Salitos or VK Mojito on that weekend. Although ads (a) and (d) contradicted each other about the drink that was included in the price of a weekend pass, which was likely to cause confusion to consumers, we considered that anyone who bought a pass for the 23-26 May weekend was unlikely to be disadvantaged by the discrepancy, because on arrival at the club they would discover that both Salitos and VK Mojito were on offer as part of the package.
On this point, we considered ads (a), (c) and (d) under CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) but did not find them in breach.
Ads (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) must not appear again in their current form. We told Luminar Leisure that if a booking fee was compulsory it should be included in the advertised price of the product. We also told them that if they did not intend to correct the technical restriction, they should ensure that their future marketing communications did not suggest tickets for individual nights could be bought online if that was not the case. We advised them to contact the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising promotions in future.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)