Eurostar and Gatwick Express ordered to change 'misleading' advert claims on price and journey times

£29 fares were not sufficiently available on Eurostar, while not enough Gatwick Express trains make the trip in half-an-hour


Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 01 August 2018 07:41
Simon Calder: Eurostar and Gatwick Express slammed for mis-leading advertising claims

Two leading train operators have been told to change their advertising after “misleading” claims about low fares and fast journey times.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints from travellers against Eurostar and the Gatwick Express.

In January, the cross-Channel train operator had advertised one-way “Eurostar tickets from as little as £29” in an online ad.

But a complainant, who said they were unable to find tickets from London to Paris at the price advertised, challenged whether the claim in the ad could be substantiated.

Eurostar, which runs trains from London St Pancras to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, said more than 5,000 tickets were available from London to Paris – but required a minimum advance booking of six weeks.

The ASA said: “We considered that consumers would understand the claim to mean that fares were available at £29 from the date of booking onward. We also considered that consumers would expect to find the tickets available at the ‘from’ price across a range of dates and times within that period.”

The authority concluded that the ad was “misleading”.

A spokesperson for Eurostar told The Independent: “We take great care in adhering to the ASA rules and code, and in 2017 more than 725,000 Eurostar seats were sold at £29. As soon as we became aware of the complaint, we immediately updated the language on our website.

“We also intend to introduce a tool on our website which will indicate to customers the lowest fares available on each day.”

Last year seven per cent of the 10.3 million Eurostar tickets sold were at the £29 fare.

In a separate ASA ruling, the troubled GTR franchise has been admonished for claiming its Gatwick Express operation travels “non-stop to Victoria station in half an hour”.

Two complainants challenged whether the journey time claims could be substantiated.

Gatwick Express said that 79 per cent of scheduled trains between Victoria and Gatwick Airport arrived to their final destination on time.

The ASA upheld the complaints, saying: “While we acknowledged that consumers would appreciate that train services were occasionally subject to unforeseeable delays, we nevertheless considered that consumers would expect that the Gatwick Express achieved the stated journey time barring exceptional or unforeseeable circumstances outside of their control.”

The authority ruled: “The ads must not appear again in the form complained of.”

A Gatwick Express spokesperson said: “Just a third of Gatwick Express delay minutes were within our control, however we acknowledge the ASA ruling and began withdrawing these adverts many months ago.”

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