A website for Europcar, www.europcar.co.uk, seen on 30 May 2017 stated "... Spoil yourself and hire a Selection vehicle. Take your pick from our prestigious range that includes models from Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche and BMW ... To book your Luxury or Fun vehicle just enter your destination above and remember, the model you choose is the model you get. Guaranteed ...".
Two complainants challenged whether the claim "the model you choose is the model you get. Guaranteed" was misleading, because they understood that Europcar could not guarantee that the chosen model would be available and in the event that it was not, customers would be given a substitute.
Europcar Group UK Ltd t/a Europcar said they had operated the guaranteed service for over two years with a considerable uptake, yet had very few issues relating to service, because the guaranteed models were monitored closely in terms of returns, repairs and service issues. They said if they had over 24-hours’ notice and the vehicles booked were available they would fulfil the guaranteed model reservation. They did not offer an alternative and if they could not supply the reserved model they would cancel the reservation well in advance. They pointed out that their website stated "If you give us less than 24 hours notice we can’t guarantee your vehicle but we will ensure you take away a vehicle that is from the same vehicle group as your chosen vehicle".
The ASA considered that the claim “the model you choose is the model you get. Guaranteed” would be understood to mean that Europcar had in place processes that ensured the range of vehicles included in the offer would always be available to those who booked them. We noted that the terms and conditions were clearly displayed on the same web page as that claim and we considered consumers would therefore understand that reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance in order to take advantage of the offer.
While we understood that Europcar monitored the guaranteed models to help them meet demand, that did not amount to a guarantee of availability and they had been unable to provide the vehicle the complainants had reserved, despite the reservation being made more than 24 hours in advance. Because “guaranteed models” would not always be available to those who booked, we concluded that the claim was likely to mislead.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Europcar not to claim that models were guaranteed in future if they could not ensure that they would always be available.