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Author Topic: National Express - misleading advertising  (Read 1721 times)
grahame
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« on: March 15, 2019, 06:15:37 am »

Did you know?  It's a lot cheaper Bristol to London by National Express Coach if you choose a Tuesday 6 weeks ahead where National Express have some advance tickets for just a fiver (arrives London mid morning) and the train leaving Bristol at the same time is only offering anytime tickets because it arrives in London in time for a day's work!

National Express want you to know what the price difference is between these two products ...


Commenters aren't all impressed

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Very clever yet misleading advertising, nationalexpress! Surely your advertising people can do better than this garbage?

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Just been quoted 112 for two of us to Heathrow airport from Bristol seems expensive to me ! Or am I being dumb ?

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Train prices are disgusting

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That's rich, given that National Express proved to be particularly c**p at running trains.

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However they only have one ticket at that price and if you book in advance on Trainsplitting.com you can get really cheap rail fares. I recently booked one for a friend to go from [Somerset station] to [Norfolk station] for 16!

The Facebook advert is sponsored - keeps popping up for me; I could share it but can't find a link to paste it here. In any case,  in my view it may be so distorted in the items it compares that it's a case for Advertising Standards.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2019, 09:20:24 am »

It's not misleading, it's a "hook", a common enough marketing/advertising device to get potential customers to take an interest via a headline. It makes no claims regarding arrival times in London - you are emphasising that - and the "small print" makes the criteria and methodology used quite clear - same time, same date.

The railways themselves are far from averse to using such tactics when it comes to advertising heavily restricted  "cheap" fares which are only available if you book weeks in advance with fares becoming eye wateringly  expensive nearer the time.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2019, 09:40:01 am »

The railways themselves are far from averse to using such tactics when it comes to advertising heavily restricted  "cheap" fares which are only available if you book weeks in advance with fares becoming eye wateringly  expensive nearer the time.

Indeed ... totally seen loads of those!
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2019, 09:56:53 am »

A propos, I note that Asda sell apples at 2 a dozen, whereas American Golf sell golf balls for 41.99 a dozen. Now some of you are probably going to argue that I'm not comparing apples with apples... but then neither are National Express.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2019, 10:20:46 am »

The railways themselves are far from averse to using such tactics when it comes to advertising heavily restricted  "cheap" fares which are only available if you book weeks in advance with fares becoming eye wateringly  expensive nearer the time.

Indeed ... totally seen loads of those!

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6011893/amp/Rail-ads-banned-misleading-fares-times.html
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Bob_Blakey
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 10:29:57 am »


On the basis of the above link contents the NE advertising seems quite clearly to be a job for the ASA. Unfortunately from personal experience I regard the ASA as a complete waste of time.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 10:46:31 am »

By way of adding a further two pennorth: the National Express service arrives at leaves Bristol at 07.30 and arrives in London at 11.05. For most people, it's the arrival time - not the departure time - that matters; the 09.00 fro Bristol Temple Meads will get you into Paddington at 10.39 and the fare currently quoted is 18.50 for an advance ticket. Still more expensive than the bus, but many may think it worth the difference...
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didcotdean
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2019, 12:05:16 pm »


On the basis of the above link contents the NE advertising seems quite clearly to be a job for the ASA. Unfortunately from personal experience I regard the ASA as a complete waste of time.

The usual outcome is an undertaking not to run the ad again, but as generally happens after the campaign has finished it isn't much of a penalty. Although the ASA were swift once with a complaint of mine against a hotel advertising prices online to consumers ex VAT.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2019, 05:09:19 pm »

A propos, I note that Asda sell apples at 2 a dozen, whereas American Golf sell golf balls for 41.99 a dozen. Now some of you are probably going to argue that I'm not comparing apples with apples... but then neither are National Express.

2 different means of transport, on the same day, at the same time, going from Bristol to London, cheapest currently available Advance fares quoted for both.....I'd say that's a pretty reasonable set of criteria for comparison?

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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2019, 05:32:19 pm »

A propos, I note that Asda sell apples at 2 a dozen, whereas American Golf sell golf balls for 41.99 a dozen. Now some of you are probably going to argue that I'm not comparing apples with apples... but then neither are National Express.

2 different means of transport, on the same day, at the same time, going from Bristol to London, cheapest currently available Advance fares quoted for both.....I'd say that's a pretty reasonable set of criteria for comparison?

As someone else has said, this sort of advertising is commonplace - take your best deal and compare it with your competition's worst deal. So, although it is misleading, there is enough of a grain of truth in it to make sure it doesn't fall foul of advertising standards.

The trouble is, this "grain of truth" narrative is used daily by the newspapers and nobody bats an eyelid. For example, a perfectly sensible packaging measure to stop fruit and veg being damaged in transit was reported by those with an axe to grind as "EU bans curly cucumbers"  Roll Eyes
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2019, 05:57:16 pm »

A propos, I note that Asda sell apples at 2 a dozen, whereas American Golf sell golf balls for 41.99 a dozen. Now some of you are probably going to argue that I'm not comparing apples with apples... but then neither are National Express.

2 different means of transport, on the same day, at the same time, going from Bristol to London, cheapest currently available Advance fares quoted for both.....I'd say that's a pretty reasonable set of criteria for comparison?

As someone else has said, this sort of advertising is commonplace - take your best deal and compare it with your competition's worst deal. So, although it is misleading, there is enough of a grain of truth in it to make sure it doesn't fall foul of advertising standards.

The trouble is, this "grain of truth" narrative is used daily by the newspapers and nobody bats an eyelid. For example, a perfectly sensible packaging measure to stop fruit and veg being damaged in transit was reported by those with an axe to grind as "EU bans curly cucumbers"  Roll Eyes

I hate to keep pointing this out (I know facts can be boring) but it's not the "worst deal" - it's the best price available on the 0730 Bristol TM - Paddington on 30th April, versus the best price available on the equivalent National Express service from Bristol to London at the same time on the same day....please do look it up for yourself on NR Journey planner if you don't believe the advert (or me)

With you on the curly cucumbers though!!!  Wink
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2019, 06:35:03 pm »


2 different means of transport, on the same day, at the same time, going from Bristol to London, cheapest currently available Advance fares quoted for both.....I'd say that's a pretty reasonable set of criteria for comparison?



I hate to keep pointing this out (I know facts can be boring) but it's not the "worst deal" - it's the best price available on the 0730 Bristol TM - Paddington on 30th April, versus the best price available on the equivalent National Express service from Bristol to London at the same time on the same day....please do look it up for yourself on NR Journey planner if you don't believe the advert (or me)


It isn't a reasonable comparison at all, because the salient time is when you arrive not when you depart.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2019, 06:53:32 pm »


2 different means of transport, on the same day, at the same time, going from Bristol to London, cheapest currently available Advance fares quoted for both.....I'd say that's a pretty reasonable set of criteria for comparison?



I hate to keep pointing this out (I know facts can be boring) but it's not the "worst deal" - it's the best price available on the 0730 Bristol TM - Paddington on 30th April, versus the best price available on the equivalent National Express service from Bristol to London at the same time on the same day....please do look it up for yourself on NR Journey planner if you don't believe the advert (or me)


It isn't a reasonable comparison at all, because the salient time is when you arrive not when you depart.

That's an entirely subjective point of view. What is salient to you in terms of arrival time, may well be totally unimportant in comparison to the much cheaper price to another customer with a different set of priorities.





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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2019, 09:55:28 pm »


2 different means of transport, on the same day, at the same time, going from Bristol to London, cheapest currently available Advance fares quoted for both.....I'd say that's a pretty reasonable set of criteria for comparison?



I hate to keep pointing this out (I know facts can be boring) but it's not the "worst deal" - it's the best price available on the 0730 Bristol TM - Paddington on 30th April, versus the best price available on the equivalent National Express service from Bristol to London at the same time on the same day....please do look it up for yourself on NR Journey planner if you don't believe the advert (or me)


It isn't a reasonable comparison at all, because the salient time is when you arrive not when you depart.

That's an entirely subjective point of view. What is salient to you in terms of arrival time, may well be totally unimportant in comparison to the much cheaper price to another customer with a different set of priorities.


I agree that it's subjective as long as we are comparing apples with apples - 18.50 by train compared with 5 on the bus. No objective rational person would pay 109 to arrive over two hours early.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2019, 02:53:38 pm »

A propos, I note that Asda sell apples at 2 a dozen, whereas American Golf sell golf balls for 41.99 a dozen. Now some of you are probably going to argue that I'm not comparing apples with apples... but then neither are National Express.

2 different means of transport, on the same day, at the same time, going from Bristol to London, cheapest currently available Advance fares quoted for both.....I'd say that's a pretty reasonable set of criteria for comparison?


As someone else has said, this sort of advertising is commonplace - take your best deal and compare it with your competition's worst deal. So, although it is misleading, there is enough of a grain of truth in it to make sure it doesn't fall foul of advertising standards.

The trouble is, this "grain of truth" narrative is used daily by the newspapers and nobody bats an eyelid. For example, a perfectly sensible packaging measure to stop fruit and veg being damaged in transit was reported by those with an axe to grind as "EU bans curly cucumbers"  Roll Eyes

I hate to keep pointing this out (I know facts can be boring) but it's not the "worst deal" - it's the best price available on the 0730 Bristol TM - Paddington on 30th April, versus the best price available on the equivalent National Express service from Bristol to London at the same time on the same day....please do look it up for yourself on NR Journey planner if you don't believe the advert (or me)

With you on the curly cucumbers though!!!  Wink

I see that we are talking a little at crossed purposes, because I was taking a wider view than that shown in the small print in the ad. As you say, if you want to go by rail at 0730 on a midweek morning from Bristol to Paddington then it's going to set you back 109. In essence that is the only "deal" available on that train, so you could call it best deal or worst deal but it wouldn't make any difference (unless one starts complicating things further with a first class ticket, but NE doesn't do first class anyway)

My point was that whilst a traveller can get to London by National Express for 6.00 - not 5 - the booking fee is also shown in the small print but hardly emphasised in the ad, the vast majority of passengers will pay a lot more (I believe National Express run an hourly service Bristol to London but I haven't checked). Conversely, a rail passenger can pay 109 for a single to London but the vast majority will pay a lot less.

Another side issue that crossed my mind is why National Express are offering this promotional fare in the first place. No-one in their right mind would contemplate commuting from Bristol to London by coach, so their market is going to be almost exclusively leisure travel. I suspect that an 0730 departure is going to be too early for many of their passengers, so they probably have a lot of empty seats on that bus, which may of course get far better loadings on the trip back. GWR, conversely, have plenty of willing punter for the 0730 BRI PAD so they wouldn't need to discount the fare, even leaving to one side the rules on off peak validity. That latter point is one that should also be taken on board by those who naively think that a renationalised railway would result in lower fares Wink

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