Ryanair has been caught promoting flight prices without including taxes and charges – again.
A TV commercial for the budget airline has been criticised by the advertising watchdog for showing a fare that didn’t include mandatory taxes and charges which ranged from £11.70 to £21.70 across 20 UK airports.
The ad featured large text which said: ‘4 million seats £0 fare’. A voice-over said: ‘Ryanair, Britain’s biggest passenger airline, has released 4 million zero fare seats on its website in an amazing autumn sale.’
It added: ‘All fares under this offer are zero. Only taxes and charges are payable and we guarantee no fuel surcharges.’
Competitor Monarch Airlines complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the commercial because it didn’t give the price of seats inclusive of taxes and charges.
The ASA found Ryanair had breached advertising pricing rules. It said that, as the lowest amount payable under the terms of the promotion was £11.70, the airline could have said seats cost ‘from’ that amount – and made clear that the charge varied according to the different airports.
‘Because the non-optional charges were not impossible to quantify, we considered that the ad was in breach of the code,’ the ASA said.
Ryanair has along history of promoting fare prices without including taxes and charges. This has been highlighted over the years by Which? and Holiday Which?.
‘Zero’ not ‘free’
The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre had refused to clear the commercial for broadcast because it thought the £0 offer was ‘potentially misleading’ as it didn’t take into account mandatory taxes and charges.
ITV, which broadcast the advert, said that the commercial made clear in both text and voice-over that consumers had to pay ‘taxes and charges’. It said a reasonable viewer would realise that flight costs would include taxes and charges payable at the departure point, in addition to the £0 fare.
ITV said it believed the word ‘zero’ would not confuse or mislead views whereas ‘free’ would have implied there was nothing to pay.