Published on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Opodo ad banned for breaching advertising rules

OTA Opodo fell foul of advertising regulations when it emailed a car rental discount offer to UK customers last year.

Advertising watchdog the ASA upheld a complaint against Opodo after it found that the offer of 'up to 50% off' last July applied to only a limited number of the agent's car hire outlets.

A customer had complained to the ASA after failing to find any car available at the advertised discount. They had contacted Opodo, whose customer service agent was also unable to locate any cars to which the offer applied.

Opodo blamed a customer service error.

It told the ASA that it operated car rentals in 2,764 destinations across 131 countries and the countries to which the offer applied - Spain, Italy, France, UK, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, and Latvia - represented the top 12 most in-demand countries in the 30 days leading up to the promotion. 

It said 32% of potential consumers received at least one 50% off offer, and 9.5% of those consumers obtained the maximum 50% discount. 

It said availability was unlikely to have been exhausted in the period of time between the promotion going live on 24 July and the consumer receiving the email containing the promotion, which was sent and received on 29 July. 

It explained the complainant had been unable to find any discounted car rentals for any destinations due to a customer service agent error.

However, the ASA banned Opodo from repeating the ad, saying that it had not seen evidence showing the maximum discount applied to a significant proportion of the available rental cars, and because the ad did not clearly state the significant limitations of the offer with regard to participating destinations, it was misleading.

"We told Opodo Ltd that when making 'up to' claims they should ensure a significant proportion of rentals were discounted by the stated percentage," said the ASA ruling.  "We also told Opodo to ensure their future marketing communications stated all significant limitations and qualifications to the main claim."

An Opodo spokesperson said: "We are keen to work with the ASA to ensure that there is always the highest level of clarity for customers when they search for car rental on the Opodo website. We are currently working with our car rental provider to make sure that all offers and their terms and conditions are straightforward and transparent."


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