An online booking page for the theatre production of Kiss Me Kate featured an interactive map of the theatre's seating. Hovering the cursor over each section produced a pop-up which gave the price band for seats in that section. Hovering the cursor over the "Stalls" section produced a box which stated "Stalls £16.00 - £70.00 Standard".
The complainant challenged whether the price claims were misleading because they did not make clear that a booking fee also applied.
The Old Vic said they had now added text to the bottom of the page which highlighted the amount of the booking fees. The interactive map in the middle of the page was not an area they could update without employing the services of a web developer, but they were willing to take that step if necessary. They were concerned that, because the fee was per transaction and not per ticket, putting it in the hover-over box might confuse people in to thinking they had to pay that fee per ticket when that was not the case. Their leaflets also detailed all of the different ways to book tickets and the different transaction fees.
The ASA welcomed The Old Vic's response to the complaint and their willingness to make any necessary changes.
The CAP Code required that quoted prices must include non-optional fees and charges. However, we understood that in this case the booking fee was a one-off charge unrelated to the number of tickets bought and therefore could not be incorporated within individual ticket prices.
We considered that, because the price claims in the hover-over box were the first time that customers using the online booking process would see prices for the performance, those prices needed to be immediately qualified with a reference to the amount of the booking fee. For example in this instance by stating "plus online booking fee*" and using the asterisk to link to a separate explanation which included the amount. We noted that the booking fee was also already clearly itemised in the shopping cart summary at the end of the transaction, which we considered was also necessary.
Because the first appearance of the price claims were not immediately qualified with a reference to the amount of the booking fee we concluded that they breached the Code.
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), 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. 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).
We told The Old Vic to ensure that the first references to prices for a performance were immediately qualified with a reference to the amount of the booking fee.