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ASA Adjudication on MyCityDeal Ltd

MyCityDeal Ltd t/a Groupon

1 Liverpool Street
London
EC2M 7QD

Date:

4 January 2012

Media:

Internet (sales promotion)

Sector:

Leisure

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A11-168577

Ad

Claims on a website offering discount vouchers, viewed in August 2011, stated "Return Flights From London To 25 International Cities for £39 Base Fare with AirFastTickets". Text underneath stated "Air fares exclude all taxes which must be paid directly when booking (rates vary depending on destination and flight date)".

Issue

The complainant challenged whether the claim "Air fares exclude all taxes" was misleading, because they understood other compulsory charges were also excluded from the advertised fare and had to be paid in addition to taxes when booking.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

Groupon explained that they had used the term "base fare" to make clear that the offer was a 'towards' deal whereby the Groupon voucher would contribute a proportion of the total cost payable by the consumer. Groupon said the airline partner wanted to collect taxes at their end, and they had therefore communicated the deal in such a way as to make that clear whilst still complying with the legal requirements for advertising flight prices exclusive of tax. They said the voucher was not equivalent to the flight ticket and considered that it was clear from the ad that supplementary taxes were chargeable according to the destination, departure airport and airline. Customers were informed of any additional payments before completing their purchase on the AirFastTickets website. Groupon acknowledged that the nature of the supplementary charges could have been clearer in the ad and said they would ensure it was for future similar offers. They said they were extending their standard seven-day refund policy for this deal in light of the confusion the wording may have caused.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim "Return Flights ... for £39 Base Fare with AirFastTickets" and qualifying text to mean that the voucher entitled them to purchase flights for £39 to any one of the 25 destinations, and that they would only have to pay taxes in addition to that amount. We understood, however, that the £39 base fare offer was a £39 discount off the total price of a flight booked through AirFastTickets to one of the 25 destinations, and that consumers would have to pay the remaining balance on the cost of the flight including any additional taxes and charges, such as the fuel surcharge. We considered that the wording of the offer was ambiguous and could confuse consumers about the mechanics of the promotion. We welcomed Groupon's assurance that the wording of the promotion would be amended in future. However, because the additional charges were not made clear in the ad, we concluded that it was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 and 3.18 (Prices).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Groupon to ensure that any additional charges payable by consumers were made clear in future ads.

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