Advertising watchdog rules Eurostar’s £39 fare promotion was misleading 

Data provided by Eurostar showed that the £39 fares ‘had made up a very small percentage’ of available tickets

Eurostar has been reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after finding a promotional email advertising trips for £39 was misleading for not having enough tickets at that price point.

The ASA said that data provided by Eurostar showed that the £39 fares ‘had made up a very small percentage of available tickets for travel between London and Paris, and Paris and London.’

The watchdog said:

‘Eurostar had not demonstrated that a significant proportion of tickets between London to Paris and Paris to London had been available ‘from’ £39 during the promotional period.’

The ASA told Eurostar to ensure that a significant proportion of the advertised fares are available when making future price claims.

Customer complaint triggers Eurostar investigation

The ASA investigation was triggered after one customer complained after they were only able to find one ticket from London to Paris at the advertised price.

The subject line of a promotion email sent last July read: ‘Soak up every second of summer.’ It went on to read: ‘Treat yourself to a European getaway… from just £39 each way.’

Eurostar said that a total of 39,000 seats had been available at the advertised “from” price across the routes, which they believed was a significant number and gave consumers a reasonable chance of obtaining the lowest advertised fare.

The firm said they did not know when the complainant searched for a ticket but that from 12 July onwards the number of available tickets at the stated price for travel to Paris in August and September would have decreased as they were sold.

Consumers would understand the ad to mean a significant proportion

Further text in the email read: ‘Make the most of the long days and sunny rays with a summer getaway in August or September. Book now to grab a bargain to Paris, Brussels or Lille.’

The ASA  said consumers would understand the ad to mean that a significant proportion of fares to the advertised locations of Paris, Brussels or Lille would be available to buy at £39 throughout August and September, and that they would expect to find the tickets available at the ‘from’ price across a range of dates and times within that period and have a reasonable chance of obtaining them.

Significant proportion of tickets not available the ‘from’ price

The watchdog found that as of 12 July, there had been 9,500 standard class seats available on both the outward and return journey at the stated ‘from’ price for travel between August 16 and December 13.

It also found that as of 12 July there had been 6,500 seats available from London to Brussels and Lille, and 13,500 seats available from Brussels and Lille to London – again a ‘very small percentage of the total number of seats available for standard class travel for those routes in the identified timeframe.’

It said: ‘We acknowledged that the terms and conditions of the promotion had stated the number of seats available, and that they were subject to availability.

‘However, because we considered that a significant proportion of tickets had not been available at the ‘from’ price, we concluded that the claim ‘Treat yourself to a European getaway from just £39 each way … with a summer getaway in August or September’ was therefore misleading.’

Eurostar takes on board ASA ruling

A Eurostar spokeswoman said: ‘We value customer feedback, including complaints, and take great care in the way that we word our advertising and the number of tickets that we offer at the promotional price during particular time periods.

‘We understand and take on board the ASA’s ruling which is related to seat availability in part of the promotional period, and we are committed to ensuring that this scenario does not occur again.’

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