Holiday firms rapped for misleading ads

When is a discount not a discount?

Updated: 

TENERIFE SUR AIRPORT, TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDS - JANUARY 17, 2014: A Thomson Holidays Boeing 757 taking off from Tenerife south

Two big travel companies have had their ads banned for making misleading claims about savings.

Jet2holidays sent out an email on January 14 with the subject line 'Psst! Our £100pp sale has started!'. It promised £100 off all holidays and city breaks for three days.

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But one sharp-eyed customer that received the email had been told by the firm that the sale had started on January 1 - and it eventually emerged that it had in fact begun on Christmas Day.

In any case, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled, the '£100 off' claim was pretty meaningless, given the way prices fluctuated from day to day.

"Despite having an appreciation of these price fluctuations, in the absence of further information about the basis of any savings claims made, consumers would be unable to have an informed understanding of whether or not the discounted price constituted a genuine, meaningful saving," it says.

Meanwhile, Tui has also had its knuckles rapped for misleading claims about savings.

Websites for the company's First Choice and Thomson brands offered deals on hotels in August, promising discounts of £162 and £180 per person - but didn't make it clear that these 'savings' were simply the difference between the company's online and in-store prices.

Both companies have been ordered to pull their ads.

It's by no means the first time that travel companies have been caught out making misleading claims about savings - last year, for example, we reported on a very similar ruling against a Tui ad that promised 'up to 27% off' holidays in Mexico.

Again, fluctuating prices made the claim meaningless, said the ASA.

Unfortunately, there's unlikely to be any compensation for customers who feel they've been misled - so it's important to be sure that savings are really what they seem.

The best advice is to ignore claims about 'special offers' and 'free' this and that, and simply focus on the bottom-line price. You'll get a better deal leaving things early or late.

Check comparison sites like TravelSupermarket to see if there's a cheaper offer on the same or a similar holiday - and don't be afraid to try and haggle.

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