ASA Ruling on British Airways plc
British Airways plc
PO Box 365
20 February 2013
Internet (on own site)
Holidays and travel
Number of complaints:
Claims on the "Price Promise" page of the website www.britishairways.com, which was navigated to via prominent links in the flight booking pages, stated "Price Promise Booking with confidence Always feel confident when you book online at ba.com. If you find the same flight (operated by British Airways) cheaper elsewhere online, once you have made your booking on ba.com, we will refund you the difference ...".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading, because having found the same flight cheaper with another online retailer, he was unable to take advantage of the Price Promise.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
British Airways (BA) said their Price Promise (in common with most other price promises) worked on the basic principle of comparing like with like. They said prices depended on the route, the date of the flight, the time of the flight, the class of travel and the flexibility of the ticket and that in order to take advantage of the Price Promise, customers were requested to provide evidence, which included the date of travel, so that a fair comparison could be made between a flight booked online at ba.com and a lower BA fare advertised elsewhere. They said the terms and conditions of the Price Promise, and in particular the "Key restrictions", made it very clear that the cheaper fare quoted "must be for the same route(s), with each leg flown in the same order, for the same dates and flight numbers and for the same type of ticket (including fare conditions such as whether tickets are flexible, refundable or changeable)."
They explained that the complainant had made a flight booking online at ba.com and later made a claim through the "Price Promise" because he believed he had found a lower fare for the same flight with another online retailer. BA could not find that lower fare on the other retailer's website and, in accordance with the terms and conditions, they asked the complainant to send a screenshot of the flight details. They said the evidence they requested was easily obtainable (two clicks from the home page) by following the logical journey through the booking process on the other retailer's website and without actually making a booking, but that the complainant was unable to provide the evidence required. They reiterated that the need to provide that evidence was clearly set out in the "Key restrictions" section on the Price Promise page and, although they recognised that the complainant's experience was unfortunate, they did not believe their customers were being misled by their Price Promise or the way in which it was administered.
The ASA noted that the "Price Promise" page of the website included italicised text under the heading "Making a claim" (and immediately above the link to the claim form) that stated "Please Note: All claims must be made by midnight on the day of purchase. We may also ask you to forward us a screenshot of the site to us [sic]. We would therefore suggest you save a screenshot in Word .doc or as a .jpeg file for future correspondence". We noted that the second bullet point under the heading "Key Restrictions" said the lower fare must be "... for the same dates and flight numbers ..." and that the final bullet point under that heading said "We may ask you to forward us a screenshot to us [sic]. We suggest you save this as a .doc or .jpeg file". Furthermore, we noted that the terms and conditions, which could be accessed via a prominent link on the "Price Promise" page and which customers had to expressly agree to before completing the claim form, stated "... BA reserves the right to verify evidence of the Lower Online Fare available for purchase at the lower price ..." and "To be eligible for a PPR you must supply sufficient evidence of the Lower Online Fare in the form of a print out or screenshot of the fare quote page if required to British Airways' reasonable satisfaction, along with the terms & conditions applicable to the Lower Online Fare. You should retain your print out until you have heard from British Airways that this is no longer required as proof."
We understood that the complainant had been in correspondence with BA after his initial claim was rejected and that he considered that it had not been made sufficiently clear in that correspondence that the evidence BA required included the date of travel. However, we considered that the information provided to consumers before accessing the claim form on the "Price Promise" page explained that they might be required to provide proof of the lower fare, including the date of travel. We considered that that information had been presented clearly, and that the ad was unlikely to mislead.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.