Expedia Singapore has ceased its "Daily Deals" promotion, after the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) deemed the promotion as false claims and its advertising as misleading.
According to CCCS, the “Daily Deals” promotions involved the listing of certain deals that the platform claim is only available for 24 hours. This would mean that the deals will expire at 11.59pm every day. However it was found that at least 55 of the promotional prices remained the same even after 24 hours. The promotions were advertised on the Expedia Singapore website, as well as through EDMs to consumers who were subscribed to the mailing list of its parent company, BEX Travel Asia.
In CCCS’s view, such false claims in relation to promotional prices mislead consumers into believing that there is a price benefit which is only available for a limited period, thus creating unwarranted pressure or a sense of urgency for consumers to make an immediate purchase. It was also found that the false claims on the "Daily Deals" promotions took place since 2016.
CCCS has since given BEX Travel Asia a warning for its breaches. BEX Travel Asia has also agreed to take prompt steps to cease any unfair practices it may discover in relation to communications (via any media) to consumers on promotions that can be booked through the Expedia Singapore website. It will also have to ensure that promotions that can be booked through the Expedia Singapore website are not communicated to consumers as being available for a limited time period when it is not.
In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesperson from Expedia said it has voluntarily agreed to review its internal marketing processes and guidelines. It will also continue to help customers book travel that meets their requirements and provide all relevant information that customers need. The spokesperson added that the company has "invested significant time and energy" over the past few months to work with CCCS, to find ways to improve the way it presents travel-related information to its consumers.
"As we look for ways to serve our customers and the broader travel community better, we remain focused on putting the needs of our customers first, to deliver on our mission to bring the world within the reach. We hope that the CCCS and the travel industry will continue to uphold the high standards set for information transparency and clarity, for the benefit of all consumers in Singapore," the spokesperson said.
CCCS said that it is closely monitoring consumer markets for possible unfair practices that harm consumers. Suppliers that specify a time period during which a product or service will be sold at a discounted price, should state the time period for when the discount is actually valid clearly and prominently and not make false claims or otherwise mislead consumers. These obligations also extend to suppliers which only provide booking services to consumers and suppliers that only promote goods and services, such as advertising platforms.
Expedia is not the first brand to be embroiled in a false advertising that leverages on time-sensitive deals. Earlier in October, discount retail store ABC Bargain Centre, Valu$, and ABC Express halted its use of “Closing Down Sale” and “Fire Sale” advertisements after investigations from the CCCS. CCCS said the advertisement, which were displayed continuously without any end date, was misleading to consumers and constitutes an unfair practice in breach of the Consumer Protection Act.
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