ASA Adjudication on Merseyrail Electrics 2002 Ltd
Merseyrail Electrics 2002 Ltd t/a
Lord Nelson Street
11 July 2012
Point of sale, Internet (on own site)
Holidays and travel
Number of complaints:
The website www.merseyrail.org, for a rail operator, stated "Get a GEMPass and enjoy discounted travel to College or University". Text on an application form accessed via the website included a section titled "The GEM Pass guide to fares and tickets on Merseyrail", which stated "With a GEM Pass you get discounted travel across the Merseyrail network anytime, day or night. So, you can save money on travelling to College or University during the week but you can also use your GEM Pass to get about during the evenings and weekends. All at much cheaper rates than standard fares".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because they noted that the price for a Monthly Adult GEM Pass that covered two zones or one area was £60.20, which was the same price as a Monthly Adult Railpass that also covered two zones or one area.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Merseyrail said that the GEMPass ticket was part of their Railpass family of season tickets and was targeted specifically at the student market. They told us that in addition to savings on fares, there were additional benefits to students in the form of discounts offered by local and national businesses. They explained that, as with most season tickets available across the UK rail network, the GEMPass offered discounted rates when compared to the price of a standard day return (SDR) and that the discount would vary depending on the period the ticket was valid for, with an annual pass offering the greatest savings. They said that an adult GEMPass and an Adult Railpass were sold at the same price because they were both season tickets offering a discount against the Merseyrail SDR rate.
The ASA noted the complainant felt that it was misleading for Merseyrail to state that the GEMPass offered "much cheaper rates than standard fares" when a standard adult Railpass season ticket was available at the same price. However, we considered that most consumers would understand that the savings offered by a rail season ticket were in comparison to standard daily fares, rather than in comparison to other season tickets. We noted that an Adult GEMPass was offered at the same price as an Adult Railpass, but that it also gave access to additional discounts for students. We therefore considered that the ad was not misleading and did not breach the Code.
The ad was investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.17 (Prices) but was not found in breach.
No further action necessary.