Deceptive advertising by CrossCountry

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All Line Rover

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CrossCountry, the nation's favourite TOC, is once again being deceptive with their advertising.

Attached is a screenshot of their homepage (it may differ if you visit the website yourself because of cookies). In the middle of the page they are advertising some nice cheap fares! Leeds to York for just £10.60, eh? Not bad. So I check, and guess what - this is a "Route Harrogate" fare priced by Northern!

Looking a bit further down, what else do we see? A bargain basement fare of £4 for Exeter to Bristol! Wow! So I check again, and guess what - this is a First Great Western Advance fare!

When I visit Virgin Trains' website, do I see them advertising "Birmingham to London - just £3!" in the middle of their homepage? No, of course not, as that is a London Midland fare. They only advertise fares that are available on their own trains - the fares that I expect to see when visiting their website.

When I, and I imagine most other people, visit the CrossCountry homepage, I assume that the fares advertised are for their own trains - not for other operators! Their actions are a testament to how ridiculous their fares structure really is. :roll:
 

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calc7

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Good find! I can't decide if this is better or worse than East Coast's "25 reasons to go First Class" lie.
 

SS4

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I don't see what's wrong with it. It's not like they're explicitly stating that it's their own fare although they could questionably be implying it. Perhaps one for ASA to look at?
 

calc7

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I don't see what's wrong with it. It's not like they're explicitly stating that it's their own fare although they could questionably be implying it. Perhaps one for ASA to look at?


Route Harrogate can't even be used on their trains, never mind that fact it isn't priced by them, though.
 

SS4

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Route Harrogate can't even be used on their trains, never mind that fact it isn't priced by them, though.

Is the average passenger going to care? Sure they could be a bit more upfront that it's not travelling on their trains but as long as they make it clear to their passengers I don't see too much of an issue.
 

tbtc

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When I, and I imagine most other people, visit the CrossCountry homepage, I assume that the fares advertised are for their own trains - not for other operators!

If a TOC wasn't bringing up the cheapest option (when it meant using another TOC) people would be complaining too.

XC make their margin (10%?) for flogging tickets that don't involve their own trains, so it makes sense that they'd promote them.

I don't have a problem with XC advertising/ selling cheaper tickets for trips run by other TOCs - would you be unhappy with Tesco promoting a cheap price on Coca Cola instead of boasting about their "own brand" drink?
 

185

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Potentially could be used to prosecute under description of goods / services.

The advertised fare on CrossCountry's website, is listed alongside their service descriptions of trains with catering, Wifi, tables, aircon, intercity standard trains etc.

Consider you went onto British Airways site "Fare to New York for £300!", bought it, then ended up on an oil tanker via China. You wouldn't be happy.
 

calc7

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Is the average passenger going to care? Sure they could be a bit more upfront that it's not travelling on their trains but as long as they make it clear to their passengers I don't see too much of an issue.

I'm not sure of the legal implications of it all, but it's a bit dodgy that an InterCity operator is headlining fares not even valid on its trains. It doesn't really help the customer that, on further investigation, the £10.60 fare is for a clapped out Pacer trip taking well over an hour. One can't help but think some form of deception is taking place here.
 

hairyhandedfool

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So if they advertise the cheapest fare from Leeds to York as the 'best fare' it is deceptive? What would you say if it didn't show the cheapest fare from Leeds to York as the 'best fare'?
 

Clip

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Indeed HHF.Just because they are not valid on their services does not mean that they are misleading anyone imo.

In fact they are being quite clever as they want to direct more traffic to their own site to get the comission for flogging the ticket. As long as on the next page it clearly states the route and the TOC its available for i see no problem with it.
 

Roylang

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Indeed HHF.Just because they are not valid on their services does not mean that they are misleading anyone imo.

In fact they are being quite clever as they want to direct more traffic to their own site to get the comission for flogging the ticket. As long as on the next page it clearly states the route and the TOC its available for i see no problem with it.

Fully agree - people have got to learn to de-couple Cross Country the train operator from Cross Country the ticket sales. Nothing wrong with what they are doign in my book.

Roy
 

ushawk

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Its fine that they are advertising the fares as those prices can be booked through their booking engine - but it must be made clear that they arent XC fares.
 

ralphchadkirk

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So a TOC advertises the cheapest fares and someone complains about it. I bet the same person would complain if they were not the cheapest fares, but the cheapest of the ones that solely use XC.

You just can't win.


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All Line Rover

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If a TOC wasn't bringing up the cheapest option (when it meant using another TOC) people would be complaining too.

XC make their margin (10%?) for flogging tickets that don't involve their own trains, so it makes sense that they'd promote them.

I don't have a problem with XC advertising/ selling cheaper tickets for trips run by other TOCs - would you be unhappy with Tesco promoting a cheap price on Coca Cola instead of boasting about their "own brand" drink?

Bringing up the cheapest option when people search for tickets isn't the issue here (that's a definite benefit!). The issue is that they advise people to visit their website for the best fares (which when you see such a poster on a CrossCountry train, implies that they are referring to the best CrossCountry fares), yet they advertise headline fares on their website that aren't even valid on their own trains! Do you see Virgin advertising "LM Only" fares in place of "Any Permitted" fares, or East Coast advertising "Hull Trains Only" fares?

It's also worth noting that the "Route Harrogate" fare does not appear on their booking engine by default.

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---

To clarify, I have no issue with CrossCountry selling the cheapest tickets, especially when they are clearly displayed in their Journey Planner. But to have a list of journeys on their own network, but with fares via different via points or other TOCs, is clearly misleading, as the average customer would expect these fares to be valid on CrossCountry trains.
 
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tbtc

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The issue is that they advise people to visit their website for the best fares (which when you see such a poster on a CrossCountry train, implies that they are referring to the best CrossCountry fares), yet they advertise headline fares on their website that aren't even valid on their own trains!

As long as it is clearly explained in the ticketing what service(s) the price is valid for I'm not sure that I see the problem.

It looks like another excuse to bash XC about ticketing again, tbh.
 

CC 72100

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Like other posters have said, as long as on the next page it specifies that these prices may not be for an XC service, rather the FGW Cardiff - Paignton via Weston SM as it may be in the Bristol - Exeter case I don't see much of an issue with it.

The prices is more of an ad for 'look what good value train tickets we can find' with a focus on their ticketing side rather than a 'travelling with XC is so cheap'
 

sonorguy

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The issue is that they advise people to visit their website for the best fares (which when you see such a poster on a CrossCountry train, implies that they are referring to the best CrossCountry fares), yet they advertise headline fares on their website that aren't even valid on their own trains! --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

To clarify, I have no issue with CrossCountry selling the cheapest tickets, especially when they are clearly displayed in their Journey Planner. But to have a list of journeys on their own network, but with fares via different via points or other TOCs, is clearly misleading, as the average customer would expect these fares to be valid on CrossCountry trains.

It doesn't imply anything of the sort. All the TOCs will sell you tickets for other TOCs, if they only sold their own people would be complaining that it was anti-competitive. GC will happily sell you EC, XC and even WCML/FGW tickets if you want them, whether they're cheaper or not.

It's not misleading or against any laws, and not 'prosecutable under goods/services'.
 

Bellwater

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If you buy a first class advance on XCs website, do you have to sit next to someone and get a refund if you don't like it?
 

All Line Rover

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If you buy a first class advance on XCs website, do you have to sit next to someone and get a refund if you don't like it?

No, you don't get a refund. It's actually quite common on XC because of the limited capacity in their single First Class carriage. (Even though First Class is still empty, whilst Standard Class is rammed, on many off-peak services because XC stubbornly refuse to release a meaningful number of cheap First AP's).
 

LE Greys

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Let's be honest, it's better doing things this way than having to check all the various possibilities or let The Trainline have its pound of flesh.

Consider you went onto British Airways site "Fare to New York for £300!", bought it, then ended up on an oil tanker via China. You wouldn't be happy.

I'd be quite happy about that, but then that's just me.
 

johnnychips

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Consider you went onto British Airways site "Fare to New York for £300!", bought it, then ended up on an oil tanker via China. You wouldn't be happy.

If you buy a ticket on the BA (or in fact any airline) website, it makes it clear if the airline/equipment used (because of connections/codeshares) is not its own, so you are not surprised/disappointed by its service standards, seat types, legroom etc.
 

Stats

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Since Arriva launched the current booking engine on the CrossCountry website they have always treated the website as a National Rail booking engine as opposed to one specifically targetted to promoting their own fares. I've seen them show best fares for routes they don't even run in the past.

As for deceptive advertising, it's nothing of the sort. For a start the prices state 'from' and crucially in the title banner on every page it says "Buy train tickets for any train journey in Britain".
 

Masboroughlad

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As much as I think XC have done misleading advertising in the past, I don't have a problem with this. They can sell tickets for any TOC. What I find more annoying is when they advertised their own advance fares and they aren't widely available, usually only if you travel at obscure times!
 

moonrakerz

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Surely this is what goes on all the time, not only in advertising, but in all walks of life ?

A BBC news bulletin yesterday, reporting on the bad weather, stated that the rain had brought about the cancellation of The Badminton Horse Trials for the second time in "recent years".
This statement may, or may not, have been deliberately misleading.
The last time the weather caused cancellation at Badminton was 1987 (recent years ??) It was canceled "recently" in 2001 - but this was due to the foot and mouth outbreak not the weather.

The Trainline's advertising could be described as misleading - it tells the truth though ! (but not the whole truth)

Caveat Emptor !
 

SGS

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A BBC news bulletin yesterday, reporting on the bad weather, stated that the rain had brought about the cancellation of The Badminton Horse Trials for the second time in "recent years".

Well, I hope those horses don't think they are going to escape justice again.

In the same vein as the XC advert, I caught a glimpse of a TV advert for Northern last night, advertising cheap fares available on its website, and like XC, none of those promoted were for its own services (although none were skirting the boundaries of naughtiness, like the Leeds to York fare which is not valid on a route which XC serves). I find it quite amusing that this Northern one, and other adverts like those for The Trainline, try to leave the impression that ticket are actually cheaper by buying from them, when they're the same everywhere!
 

Masboroughlad

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What I find more annoying/concerning/confusing is the 'Your recent jouneys' area on the side.

1) I hardly ever book with XC on on their website because I prefer others
2) When I have booked with them, I have not done the majority of journeys ever - with tix from XC or any other website!!

Can anybody help me please?
 

PFX

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On the subject of misleading advertising, I received a promo e-mail from Stenaline today offering me a rail and sail deal to London for the Heineken Cup final. It offers "return rail travel from Cairnryan to London". As far as I'm aware, the rail line hasn't been reinstated to Cairnryan anytime recently.
 

IanXC

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In the same vein as the XC advert, I caught a glimpse of a TV advert for Northern last night, advertising cheap fares available on its website, and like XC, none of those promoted were for its own services (although none were skirting the boundaries of naughtiness, like the Leeds to York fare which is not valid on a route which XC serves). I find it quite amusing that this Northern one, and other adverts like those for The Trainline, try to leave the impression that ticket are actually cheaper by buying from them, when they're the same everywhere!

Northern's website does exactly the same thing, just visited it now and they're advertising:

Halifax-Newcastle £14
Harrogate-London £31
Glossop-London £13.50
Blackburn-Glasgow £16

Now I'd guess that none of these are Northern priced, some will also be possible without travelling on a Northern train too.

No different to XC (other than using obscure routes I suppose), I can't really see the issue here to be honest.
 

sonorguy

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(although none were skirting the boundaries of naughtiness, like the Leeds to York fare which is not valid on a route which XC serves). I find it quite amusing that this Northern one, and other adverts like those for The Trainline, try to leave the impression that ticket are actually cheaper by buying from them, when they're the same everywhere!

It's not naughtiness in any way at all. Incidentally some tickets ARE cheaper from some websites, as depends on the booking fees accrued. Some charge, some don't.
 

tbtc

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Northern's website does exactly the same thing, just visited it now and they're advertising:

Halifax-Newcastle £14
Harrogate-London £31
Glossop-London £13.50
Blackburn-Glasgow £16

Now I'd guess that none of these are Northern priced, some will also be possible without travelling on a Northern train too.

No different to XC (other than using obscure routes I suppose), I can't really see the issue here to be honest.

I think that the issue is that it's XC doing it, and some people don't like XC because they don't offer loads of dirt-cheap advanced tickets (for the simple reason that they don't have spare capacity on their services to do so), so nothing that XC do will be right in some people's eyes (even when its promoting other TOCs).

Maybe that's just me?
 
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