A national press ad, for an airline, viewed on 10 February 2012, was headed "MALMÖ WITH RYANAIR from £14.99 one way". Text within the footnote stated "Book until midnight 13.02.12. Travel days: Mon-Thurs. Travel in Apr. Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply, see Ryanair.com for details. Fares exclude optional fees/charges. Flights from London (Stansted)".
The complainant challenged whether the price was misleading, because they understood that customers paying with a non-Ryanair credit or debit card would be charged an additional fee and the only way to avoid the charge was to pay with a Ryanair payment card, which consumers had to pay for.
Ryanair said the advertised fare was available to all consumers who chose to avoid optional fees and charges and said the footnote made that clear. They said that, depending on their country of residence, consumers could avoid paying the booking fee by making payment using MasterCard Prepaid or Ryanair's Cash Passport card.
Ryanair said the initial cost of the Cash Passport was £6, but that that was immediately redeemable against the cost of the first flight purchased using the card. They said the only restriction on the card was that it was to be used within the first six months of issue and confirmed that at the time of their response there had been 100% uptake of the discount voucher.
The ASA noted the footnote stated that the advertised fare excluded "optional fees/charges". We also noted that the additional fee could be avoided by those in possession of the Cash Passport, which we understood was a prepaid card that incurred an initial cost of £6 that was redeemable against the cost of the first flight purchased using the card. However, we noted that consumers who were not in possession of the Cash Passport, at the point of purchase, could not immediately purchase tickets for the advertised price; rather they needed to apply for the card and await delivery. We were therefore concerned that that delay may result in consumers being unable to obtain the advertised price.
We also understood that in order to use the Cash Passport, consumers were required to load the card with a minimum of £150 and that additional charges applied to its use. We considered such details to be material information which the consumer needed in order to make an informed decision about the advertised price.
Because the surcharge was not avoidable at the point of purchase, unless a consumer was already in possession of the Cash Passport, and because, in order to obtain the advertised price, consumers were required to pay using the Cash Passport, which was subject to significant conditions that the ad did not make clear we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. and 3.18 3.18 Quoted prices must include non-optional taxes, duties, fees and charges that apply to all or most buyers. However, VAT-exclusive prices may be given if all those to whom the price claim is clearly addressed pay no VAT or can recover VAT. Such VAT-exclusive prices must be accompanied by a prominent statement of the amount or rate of VAT payable. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.