EasyJet rapped for 25%-off ad with rising prices

LONDON - The advertising watchdog has banned an EasyJet ad promoting its Easter offer, following complaints that the claim of up to 25% off was not all it appeared to be because prices went up as well as down during the promotional period.

The internet promotion and national press ad showed a large foil-wrapped egg with copy printed on it stating: "Early Easter sale - up to 25% off - Every seat, every route, every day... EasyJet.com."

Two readers challenged whether the claim "up to 25% off" was misleading because they had checked flight prices and availability before and during the promotion but had seen no evidence of prices being reduced.

EasyJet defended the ad saying that the sale ran from March 2 to March 6 2007 and that during that time every flight between March 14 and June 30 was subject to discount off its normal price. It supplied a list of all flights that were included in the promotion, which showed the fare before the promotion, the discount applied and the percentage of flights available at the discounted fare.

EasyJet said that this information showed that at least 10% of the fares were offered at the maximum 25% discount.

The Advertising Standards Authority noted that the pricing structure information submitted by EasyJet showed that for most of the promotional period customers could purchase flights at a rate that was cheaper than in the period before the promotion.

However, it also said that the information showed that, towards the end of the promotional period, fares on some routes had been increased because of demand, and that as a result some customers would pay more for their flights than if they had booked tickets in the period immediately before the promotion began.

It concluded that the ad was misleading because most customers would expect fares to be cheaper than if they had booked tickets in the period before the promotion began on "every seat, every route, every day" for the whole of the promotional period.

EasyJet was told not to use the claim again unless it qualified to make it clear that, although discounted, prices might rise during the promotional period.