Discount bus firm told to make more cheap fares available when it advertises £1 tickets
Megabus advertisements that promised customers fares starting “from £1” have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after it found that tickets for just two routes were available at that price.
Two people complained about the adverts, which featured on Megabus’ website and on its Facebook page, after searching for tickets and failing to find any priced at £1.
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The complainants alleged that the claim “fares are from £1” was misleading and could not be substantiated. At the time, Megabus was promoting £1 tickets on its Aberystwyth to Birmingham route on its website, while also advertising new services from Leeds to different parts of Yorkshire with the statement “As always our fares are from £1*”. On a Facebook post, Megabus advertised day trips “from £1* London to Bath”.
According to Megabus, when the Aberystwyth ad was seen on the website, there was one £1 fare available on one date. Similarly, when the Facebook ad was published, there was one £1 ticket available on one date for the Bath route. With regard to the ads for the new Yorkshire destinations, Megabus said its standard wording about £1 fares was used in error and the reference to £1 tickets had since been removed.
Megabus said the number of fares available at £1 for any given route varied due to many factors, such as the number of intermediary stops and the number of tickets booked for the partial and full routes, and added that the price would depend on how far in advance a journey was booked.
The ASA found that “consumers would understand the claims 'From £1*' and 'As always our fares are from £1*' in the ads to mean that a significant proportion of coach tickets would be priced at £1 for the full distance of the advertised routes”.
The watchdog concluded that the “From £1” claims relating to the Aberystwyth to Birmingham and London to Bath routes “were misleading because the availability of £1 fares was not what consumers would have expected based on the claim in the ad”. The ASA found that the ad about fares to Yorkshire was also misleading.
Megabus has been told that the ads must not appear again in their current form, and to ensure in future that when using ”from £1" price claims a significant proportion of the advertised fares were available at £1, so that consumers have a “reasonable chance” of obtaining the products at the advertised “from” price.
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- Advertising Standards Authority