Channel Tunnel rail operator Eurostar has been criticised by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for a “misleading” advert that offered tickets to Europe “from £39” in August and September last year.

The ASA upheld a complaint from a member of the public who had said they had only been able to find one ticket from London to Paris at the £39 price tag, leading the regulatory authority to conduct further research concluding that a “very small percentage” of available tickets during the advertised time period were available at the price. 

The advert, which was sent to customers as a promotional email in July 2023, was deemed to be misleading after the ASA said that customers would likely understand the claim of tickets being offered “from just £39 each way” to “mean that a significant proportion of fares to the advertised locations of Paris, Brussels or Lille would be available to purchase at £39 throughout August and September 2023.” 

In response to the complaint, Eurostar highlighted that the terms and conditions at the bottom of the email included the number of seats that were available for £39 and that customers would also expect a smaller number of tickets to be sold at the price, with tickets also being advertised as being “subject to availability.” 

The operator also said that it had not received any direct complaints from customers about the email promotion, which was only sent out to each customer once partly as an effort to reduce the risk of exaggerating ticket availability.

The ASA’s ruling found that the advert had breached rules 3.1, 3.17 and 3.22 of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code and told Eurostar to ensure that a significant proportion of fares were offered at an advertised price in the future. 

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By GlobalData

The news marks another issue for Eurostar which has already seen threats of strike action and may see competition on its channel tunnel routes from London for the first time in 30 years after the tunnel’s parent company GetLink’s CEO confirmed it was in talks with at least two operators hoping to launch new routes.

The rail operator, which has also struggled with train cancellations due to flooding in recent weeks, is not the only transport operator to be criticised by the ASA in the last month as three airlines saw their adverts pulled after claims of “greenwashing”.