Ryanair gets Easyjet ad grounded

As an airline, you know you're in bother when Ryanair accuses you of making misleading adverts...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Rival low-cost operator Easyjet has been forced by the Advertising Standards Agency to withdraw some of its adverts, after Ryanair successfully argued that they were misleading. The ASA said they broke rules on ‘truthfulness, guarantees and substantiation’ and have told Easyjet that they can’t be used again.

The ads, which appeared online and in newspapers last year, promised: ‘Book by Friday and if you find it cheaper elsewhere we’ll refund the difference’. But as usual with these things, the rules only applied to other flights that were leaving at almost exactly the same time, from exactly the same place, to exactly the same destination. When there was a ‘b’ in the name of the month. So as you’d expect, it didn’t actually apply all that often.

Easyjet pointed out that all these terms and conditions were stated on the adverts, and insisted that lots of passengers had taken advantage of the offer. However, if that was actually the case they clearly didn’t bothering sharing it with the ASA, since the regulator said in its verdict that Easyjet ‘had not sent sufficient evidence’ of this.

For an organisation that’s found itself on the wrong end of several recent verdicts from the regulator – notably by running a picture of a scantily-clad schoolgirl and French president Nicolas Sarkozy (though not at the same time, we hasten to add) – Ryanair must be delighted to be occupying the moral high ground for once.

However, it must stick in the ASA’s craw to side with a company that has previously called them ‘a bunch of unelected, self appointed dimwits’, and suggested that the acronym actually stands for ‘Absurd Silly Asses’. At least it had the consolation of rejecting a further Ryanair complaint – that the ads suggested Easyjet prices were always cheaper.

Nonetheless, Ryanair’s lawyers will be basking in a rare victory – although to be honest, we can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Easyjet. Surely nobody in the world still believes that these airline offers actually apply without several thousand caveats?

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