I’ve been to a fair few town halls in my time as a reporter, but not so many palaces. So if I booked a holiday promising me a party in a palace, I’d be annoyed if I ended up in a municipal building.
This is exactly what happened to some travellers who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the description of an arts tour to Vienna.
The brochure and email descriptions of the tour, run by Travel for the Arts, promised entry to the ‘dazzling Vienna Summer Palace Ball’, with seating in a private ‘loge’ in the ballroom.
In fact, the event took place in a building known as the Rathaus, a municipal building home to Vienna city council and mayor. The loge was not private to people on the tour, but had to be shared with another group.
So last week the ASA upheld two complaints about the tour on the basis that the event was not in a palace, and the seats were not private.
I’d like to think that the days of travellers being misled by inaccurate descriptions in brochures are over. I would hope that companies have learned from the bad publicity caused by being overly optimistic about how long it takes to walk to the beach, or neglecting to mention that a hotel is next to a building site.
But it seems that consumers are still being misled by some familiar sounding inaccuracies in holiday descriptions.
A long way from reality
For instance, in December the ASA upheld a complaint against EasyJet Holidays’ description of the Marinem Diana hotel in Turkey, on five grounds:
- The EasyJet Holidays website had stated the hotel was 14km from the heart of the Kemer resort, when in fact it was 21km away.
- The website claimed that the hotel had tennis, billiards, jacuzzi and fitness facilities, when it didn’t have any of them.
- The room furnishings did not match the description and photos on the site.
- The site inaccurately claimed rooms had a minibar, because the minibars stocked only bottled water, not alcoholic drinks.
- And finally, the website showed a photo of a restaurant that had not been available during the holiday.
Altogether, that’s one very misleading description for a holidaymaker who was surely entitled to feel they didn’t get what they paid for.
Personally I’ve been lucky with my holidays. Although I did have one budget trip to a Greek island that promised a room near the coast, but didn’t mention that it was at the end of the runway of a coastal airport.
Have you ever felt duped by the description of your holiday failing to live up to reality? Or do you think travel companies are generally accurate and honest these days?