ASA Adjudication on Vue Entertainment Ltd
Vue Entertainment Ltd
10 Chiswick Park
566 Chiswick High Road
17 October 2012
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
A website ad, on www.myvue.com, described Vue's 'Kids AM' promotion for children's cinema tickets. Text stated "Keep the kids amused from only £1.50* every Saturday and Sunday morning and every day in school holidays. *3D movies £2.75".
The complainant challenged whether the claim was misleading and whether the promotion had been conducted equitably and fairly, because they understood that the promotion had been changed shortly before the school summer holidays so that it only applied to Saturday and Sunday mornings.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Vue Entertainment Ltd (Vue) confirmed that, prior to 20 July 2012, the Kids AM ticket price was available at all Vue cinemas on weekend mornings and on weekdays during school holidays. They said, however, that over the past few years they had tested and introduced different pricing models, and as part of their ongoing pricing review, they had introduced a pilot project on 20 July to assess the impact of Kids AM pricing on the behaviour of their customers. That pilot project involved changing the Kids AM pricing structure in half of their cinemas so that it applied to weekend mornings only.
Vue said they considered that the Kids AM pricing was part of their pricing structure and therefore the change to the pricing constituted a routine notification of pricing changes; they believed that the Kids AM pricing was not a sales promotion for the purposes of the CAP Code and therefore was not subject to Code rules relating to promotions. They said their website had a separate page listing competitions and prizes, which was where they listed sales promotions.
Vue said that each of their cinemas had its own specific web page which listed the applicable Kids AM pricing for that cinema and other pricing information. They said that next to each cinema's prices, text stated "All ticket purchases are subject to ... ticket terms and conditions", with a direct link to the terms and conditions, which included "Ticket prices relate to the screening you wish to attend, not the day or time at which you purchase your ticket ... Please note that ticket prices vary". Vue considered their pricing terms were therefore transparent and made clear their prices were not 'fixed' or forward-looking.
The ASA noted Vue's belief that the Kids AM pricing did not constitute a sales promotion for the purposes of the CAP Code. However, we understood that the Kids AM pricing represented a discount on the price of both peak and off-peak children's tickets in all Vue cinemas across the UK, which provided an incentive for parents to take their children to screenings at Vue cinemas at certain times. We also noted that Kids AM was specifically promoted on web pages titled "Offers + savings". We considered that the Kids AM pricing had been actively promoted as a special offer and concluded that it therefore represented a money-off offer to which the Sales Promotion section of the Code applied.
We considered that consumers who viewed the ad in the weeks before 20 July would understand that the promotion would be available every day during the forthcoming school summer holiday, which for most schools started around the date that the terms of the promotion were changed. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading where it appeared on the main page of Vue's website and on the individual pages of cinemas in which the terms of the promotion were changed, because it implied that the promotion would apply to the forthcoming school holiday when that was not the case.
Furthermore, we understood that as a result of viewing the ad, the complainant had made plans to take her children to her local Vue cinema on a regular basis throughout the school holiday, and we considered it likely that other families would have made similar plans to take advantage of the promotion. We therefore considered that, by changing the terms of the promotion in half of their cinemas at the same time as most schools began their summer holidays, Vue had not dealt fairly and honourably with potential participants and had caused unnecessary disappointment. We concluded the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 8.2 (Sales Promotions).
We told Vue to ensure their ads were not misleading, to ensure they conducted their promotions equitably and dealt fairly and honourably with potential participants, and to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.