New Zealand Law Society - Ad watchdog says fare comparisons must be substantiated

Ad watchdog says fare comparisons must be substantiated

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint that a ride-sharing firm’s claims compared to its biggest rival was misleading.

The television ad for OLA shows a split-screen comparison between it and another such company.  The advertisement says in part: “Both companies have heaps of cars and probably the same drivers. … But when you arrive why pay the usual when OLA works out way cheaper … Download the OLA app and get 50% off rides for the first two weeks… Same but better.”

The ad includes the text disclaimers “OLA service works out cheaper with OLA discounting” and “When compared to the largest ride-share company.”

A complainant was concerned that the advertisement was misleading in its claims that OLA is cheaper or faster when in their experience they are often neither when compared to their main competitor.

OLA said the commercial did not claim that OLA had the same wait times or is faster. It said standard (pre-discount) rates for both companies were close to identical, however 80% of OLA’s rides used discounts that averaged 25% less.  OLA highlighted the disclaimer on the advertisement which says “OLA service works out cheaper with OLA discounting.”

The ASA’s complaints board agreed the advertisement made no explicit claim that OLA’s service was faster than its competitor, but OLA’s claim that it was “way cheaper” was not sufficiently supported by the information it provided.  The board said the advertisement’s disclaimers containing information explaining the pricing structure were difficult to read on a television screen and almost impossible to see on smaller devices.  Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was upheld.

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