An email promoting holiday accommodation in Malaga from £119 a week has been banned as being misleading.
The advertising watchdog upheld a complaint against Owners Direct-owned HomeAway from a consumer who was unable to find any accommodation at the advertised price.
The advert appeared in a newsletter sent out to 1.5 million subscribers.
The company explained that owners of properties used its website to promote their accommodation to rent out and directly entered the cost.
Owners Direct said it had no control over the pricing but was willing to amend emails, basing ‘from’ prices on the lowest cost of accommodation available in a specified area, and ensuring that a sufficient number of weeks were available at that price. It also offered to include a disclaimer stating that the images represented a “wide range of properties available in the area”.
But the Advertising Standards Authority said: “While we acknowledged Owners Direct were willing to ensure future ‘from’ prices were available for a sufficient number of weeks and to amend the ad to include a disclaimer stating that the images were indicative of a “wide range of properties available in the area”, we considered the qualification would contradict, rather than clarify, the overall impression a consumer would get from the ad.
“Because we had not seen sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the accommodation in the photo was available at the ‘from’ price for a sufficient number of weeks, we concluded the ad was misleading.”
In its ruling, the ASA said: “We told Owners Direct to ensure future marketing communications did not misleadingly imply that holiday accommodation was available at a minimum price and that they held sufficient documentary evidence to demonstrate that the property was available at the advertised ‘from’ price for a sufficient number of weeks.”