A sales promotion on www.Southendairport.com was headed "Free Parking* In January & February 2013 Simply pre-book online at: www.southendairport.com". Small print below stated "Terms and conditions and Date Restrictions apply".
The complainant challenged whether the promotion breached the Code because it did not make clear that numerous dates in January and February were excluded.
London Southend Airport Company (LSAC) said it was not their intention to cause any confusion. They explained that, over the 53-day period, 44 days were applicable for free parking and nine were excluded, with the only associated cost of a £1 booking fee as stated; this equated to 73% of the period in question. They pointed out that text on the promotion stated that date restrictions did apply. This appeared in smaller print which was a similar font size to that used throughout the site and was linked to from the main claim by an asterisk. Under the promotion was a link through to the relevant terms and conditions where customers could see the dates that were applicable. On the terms and conditions for the parking they reiterated the importance that customers read through the information carefully to avoid any confusion.
LSAC said due to the intelligence of the car park online pre-booking engine, any dates not valid for the promotion would have returned non-promotional pricing at the first stage of customer enquiry. LSAC said the promotion was made in good faith with no malice or desire to mislead. On studying it again they believed it complied with both the letter and the spirit of the Code.
The ASA considered that the claim "Free Parking* In January & February 2013" would be interpreted by readers to mean that parking was available for free throughout those two months. However, we understood that the terms of the offer excluded two periods in those months totalling nine days. We considered that exclusions were significant conditions which were likely to influence a consumer's decision about whether to respond and should have been made clear in the ad itself. Because they were not, we concluded that the promotion was misleading.
The promotion breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.2 8.2 Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. (Sales promotions), 8.14 8.14 Promoters must ensure that their promotions are conducted under proper supervision and make adequate resources available to administer them. Promoters, agencies and intermediaries should not give consumers justifiable grounds for complaint. (Administration) and 8.17 8.17 All marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead. Significant conditions or information may, depending on the circumstances, include: (Significant Conditions for Promotions).
The promotion must not appear again in its current form. We told LSAC to ensure they made clear all significant conditions for promotions.