ASA Adjudication on Sunmaster Ltd
Glendale Business Park
3 October 2012
Internet (on own site)
Holidays and travel
Number of complaints:
A website for package holidays, www.sunmaster.co.uk offered a seven-night holiday in Alicante for two adults. Details of the holiday stated "Flights = £268, Hotel = £410, Transfers = £18, DEPOSIT TODAY = £270, TOTAL = £696 Balance payable 12 weeks before departure Payment Method 1 - Total Amount of £696 OR Payment Method 2 - Deposit Amount of £270 ... Or phone us on 0871 XXX XX XX to book your holiday, quoting deal reference number ...".
The complainant, who did not believe that the holiday was available for £696, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Sunmaster Ltd (Sunmaster) said they were unable to locate the quoted deal reference number in the ad, which could be a result of the deal expiring after 72 hours if the complainant did not proceed with the booking request. They said they could only assume that the complainant did not proceed with the online booking request and subsequently contacted a sales agent via telephone but failed to quote the deal reference number. They said if the complainant had called on a different day then the holiday may have been unavailable for £696. They said flight prices could fluctuate in a matter of minutes and depended on the number of seats available, seats being released and enquiries made.
The ASA understood that Sunmaster was an online travel agent and therefore had less control over flight prices than other travel providers. However, we considered they were responsible for demonstrating that their holidays were available at the advertised prices. The complainant explained that, having seen the ad, they submitted their details into the website in order to book the holiday and were subsequently informed that they would be contacted shortly to finalise the details. They forwarded an e-mail sent to them by Sunmaster which stated "Thank you for requesting your holiday with Sunmaster.co.uk Our travel team will attempt to contact you by telephone within the next 48 hours to confirm the details of your chosen holiday and to complete your booking." It indicated that the total cost of the holiday was £430.31 but excluded flights and quoted a difference reference number to that in the ad. The complainant said they were contacted by telephone the next day and informed that, because the flights could not be found, the confirmation e-mail related to the holiday without flights but that the price of the holiday had increased to £800.
Sunmaster said it was clear from the different reference numbers that the complainant had not completed the online booking form at the time the £696 price was quoted. However, we considered that, because the ad offered flights at a specific price as part of the holiday, they were responsible for demonstrating that the holiday features detailed on the website were accurate whether or not customers completed an online booking form. Because we had not seen any evidence demonstrating that the elements of the package making up the £696 claim were available to consumers, we considered that the claim that the holiday was available for £696 had not been substantiated. We therefore concluded that it was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1, 3.3 and 3.4.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 Substantiation), 3.17 (Prices) and 3.28 (Availability).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sunmaster to hold evidence to substantiate the availability of their holidays at the advertised prices.