Claims on www.brittany-ferries.co.uk for a holiday cottage stated "Prices: £550 to £700 per week. Includes property rental and return ferry crossings on selected sailings to France, for a standard car and all occupants. Arrival Day: Saturday. Duration: Weekly ...". Further down the page, in another box, claims stated "What's included in the price? Prices in black are per party. They include property rental for 1 week and return ferry crossings to France, for a standard car and occupants. There are weekend and seasonal supplements at certain times of year - See Pricing Summary". Further claims stated "Holiday Prices. 06 Jul 2013 - 30 Aug 2013 Ferry Inclusive price: £700".
The complainant, who wanted to book the cottage in July or August and was quoted a total price of £870, challenged whether the price of £700 was misleading and could be substantiated because it did not include the weekend or seasonal supplements which applied.
BAI (UK) Ltd (Brittany Ferries) provided evidence which demonstrated that the holiday was available at £700, staying from 6 July, crossing the same day from Poole to Cherbourg and making the return journey on 13 July. They noted the ad stated that the price included property rental and return ferry crossings on selected sailings to France for a standard car and all occupants.
Brittany Ferries explained the format in the ad complained about was the same for all of their holiday accommodation and they provided evidence to show the top price in a selection of six other listings had been paid by consumers. They believed that evidence demonstrated the top price of those listings as well as the price of £700 for the listing complained about was available. Therefore, they believe the price claim of £700 was not misleading.
The ad was headlined "Prices: £550 to £700 per week" and included a table which stated "Holiday prices: Dates 06 Jul 2013 - 30 Aug 2013 Ferry Inclusive Price £700." It included a key which explained "£" denoted "inclusive per party prices based on date of stay". The ASA understood from the complainant he had believed £700 was the total price he would pay when staying at that accommodation during July. However, based on his preferred travel itinerary, the price increased to £870 because of the supplements which applied.
The ad included a link to Brittany Ferries' "Pricing Summary" which stated that a seasonal ferry crossing supplement of £50 could apply each way on crossings to France between 19 July and 17 August and on crossings from France between 27 July to 1 September. Those supplements applied to the following: all high speed crossings; departures to France after 8pm; all departures to France on Fridays and Saturdays; afternoon departures from France; and all departures from France on Saturdays and Sundays.
Weekend ferry supplements of £70 could apply on crossings to France between 19 July and 17 August, and from France between 27 July and 1 September. Those weekend supplements applied to Friday overnight and Saturday departures before 12pm to France and Saturday departures after midday from France. They did not, however, apply to crossings to and from Poole.
We acknowledged it was possible to pay £700 for the accommodation featured in the ad for a week's holiday in July. However, we considered the headline claim was likely to be interpreted by consumers as a range of prices applicable to holidays staying at that accommodation, with £550 being the cheapest and £700 being the most expensive. In that context, we considered it implied that £700 was the most consumers would pay for the holiday in July and August. Because that was not the case and consumers could pay as much as £940 (taking into account the potential seasonal and weekend supplements which could apply each way), we considered the claim "Prices: £550 to £700" was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices).
The claim must not appear again in its current form. We told BAI (UK) Ltd to quote the most expensive price that could be paid when using a price range.