So Ryanair has been told off by the advertising watchdogs once again. This time for an advert misleading people over an offer to fly from London to Dublin for New Year celebrations.
Ryanair suggested £7 flights were available from London to Dublin in time to catch the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, when in fact the promotion was only available for flights starting in January.
Ryanair has said that it wasn’t its intention to publish anything misleading, but it’s not the first time the airline has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). Plus, given its record for excessive surcharges, you could be excused for giving out a little groan and thinking “here’s Michael O’Leary’s mob up to its usual tricks”.
Easyjet vs Ryanair – tit for tat
One of the interesting things about this ASA ruling is that the complaint was made by Ryanair’s main rival Easyjet, which obviously has nothing to lose in seeing a bit of negative publicity about its competitor.
But Easyjet hardly has a clean record in this area – earlier this year the ASA upheld a complaint against Easyjet made by Ryanair.
When these tit for tat complaints arrive at the door of the ASA, you have to wonder whether the phrase “pot calling kettle black” pops into the minds of their staff.
Now Ryanair isn’t my airline of choice, but I’m not one to condemn it absolutely. In my view it’s done a good job of extending the benefits of air travel to people who previously couldn’t afford to fly. Plus, it has brought great economic benefits to parts of eastern Europe.
O’Leary has also spoken out in the consumer interest by arguing that BAA should be broken up – a view now backed by the Competition Commission.
Clean up your advertising act
Nevertheless, the airline is in profit and has survived the recession in incomparably better shape than many other carriers. And O’Leary does well out of it – Ryanair this week published financial results for the last three months showing he had a pay package, including bonuses, of £1,035,000.
So why does his airline need to irritate its customers with misleading adverts and unwarranted surcharges? The same question can be asked of Easyjet.
Both airlines only damage their reputations by putting out misleading ads – so shouldn’t they spend their time and energy ensuring their ads are accurate, rather than sending each other to the advertising authorities?