Company: British Airways
|16th Oct 2003
||Questionable Business Practice
|Eurostar, the cross-Channel train operator, has called on regulators to scrutinise adverts by British Airways that it says are misleading.
Guillame Pepy, Eurostar's boss, has asked France's competition and anti-fraud body, the DGCCRF, to investigate ads offering cheap flights between Paris and London.
The complaint is about French ads that offer customers "London at 29.50 euros (£20.50; $34.50) excluding tax, one way".
Eurostar says the ads do not tell the whole story regarding fares, with the conditions "explained in very small print".
But a BA spokesman rejected the complaint, saying the company's marketing techniques were no different to those used by rivals.
Eurostar says only BA return tickets are available, and that when taxes are added it increases the fare substantially, making a cheapest ticket of 106 euros (£74, $123).
Customers are also required to spend two days in the UK, a condition which appears on BA's French website, but not, says Eurostar, on Paris billboards.
Doing right for the consumer
Paul Charles, director of communications for Eurostar, said: "We want the French authorities to look at what we believe is misleading advertising.
"It is heavily featured in the Paris Metro, and advertises fares of 29.50 euros, but that fare is not available. The real fare is 106 euros.
"I think it is important the regulator has been made aware about this. It is now up to them to look at the advertising, so they can do the right thing for the consumer."
BA said: "In no way would we ever intentionally mislead the customer - and indeed we have received no negative feedback about our latest advertising campaign.
"In terms of our pricing communications, British Airways is only using advertising methods that have already been adopted by other airlines."
Eurostar hopes to increase its share of Paris to London traffic by 10% over the next year.