New York, NY – October 18, 2023 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs has closed a Fast-Track SWIFT challenge initiated by Fareportal Inc., operator of the online travel agency websites CheapOAir.com and OneTravel, regarding advertising by Smarter Travel Media LLC.
Fast-Track SWIFT is an expedited process designed for single-issue advertising cases brought to NAD.
Fareportal challenged Smarter Travel’s “80% off” travel bookings claim featured in search engine ads for BookingBuddy.com, including Google searches for “CheapOAir” with headlines such as “80% Off Cheap Flights? – 80% Off Student Flights?”
Fareportal argued that the challenged claim was not supported. In response to Fareportal’s SWIFT challenge, Smarter Travel informed NAD that during the inquiry it was voluntarily and permanently discontinuing all variations of its “80% off” claim in its online advertising. Therefore, NAD did not review the claim on its merits and will treat the claim, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended it be discontinued.
Smarter Travel agreed to comply. In its advertiser statement, Smarter Travel stated that its “search engine listings have included headlines framed as disbelieving questions – i.e., ‘80% Off . . . ?’ It added “Smarter Travel continues to view such phrasing as properly inviting healthy skepticism on the part of consumers. Yet, we acknowledge the view that at least some readers could misconstrue it as making an affirmative (albeit implied) claim.”
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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
Name: Jennie Rosenberg
Job Title: Media Relations