The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a National Express advert, ruling that it “did not provide adequate evidence to back up its quoted journey times” between London Heathrow and London Victoria.
It came after a frequent traveller on the route challenged whether the 45-minute journey time for the 1730hrs Friday departure was misleading.
The advert on National Express’ website said: “Leaving Friday 30 October 2015 London (Victoria Coach Station) to Heathrow Airport London.” Below was a schedule listing two services to Heathrow Airport departing at 1730hrs and arriving at 1815hrs, with the journey time quoted as “0h 45m”.
In response to the ASA, National Express said the journey time would be affected by external factors such as traffic, weather, roadworks and time of day and that it regularly reviewed journey times.
It provided details of a number of services’ actual times, showing some faster and some slower, resulting in an average journey time of 45 minutes.
Upholding the complaint and ruling that the advert must not appear again in that form, the ASA says National Express had only provided actual running times for one 1730hrs departure that took 47 minutes, but did not say on which day it ran.
The ASA says National Express holds data for that particular service, which runs at peak time, with actual departure and arrival times over a sufficient period of time to calculate an accurate estimated journey time.
Therefore, because National Express had not provided the data, the ASA concluded that the 45-minute journey time quoted “had not been substantiated and was misleading.” As a result it breached advertising rules covering misleading advertising, substantiation and exaggeration.