Tech: EaseMyTrip-ASCI tussle gets intense over ‘misleading’ consumer ad

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) The tussle between the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and EaseMyTrip over a ‘misleading’ consumer advertisement has reached its nadir as the leading travel platform has now filed a lawsuit against the advertising industrys self-regulatory body.

The ASCI alleged in its recommendations that EaseMyTrip published a misleading advertisement “with a blanket claim of charging ‘0 Convenience Fee’ and as a result it ‘Always’ offers the ‘Lowest’ prices for bookings, without representing the “Terms & Conditions Applicable” for the same, which is a mandate.

“EMT has published a misleading advertisement wherein it has illegally used IBIBO Group Pvt Ltd’s trademark, without authority to unfairly denigrate, attack and discredit IBIBO Group Pvt Ltd,” the ASCI said.

In a statement, EaseMyTrip said that the actions of ASCI are “beyond jurisdiction and non-est as EMT is not a member of ASCI”.

“As per ASCI’s own rules, it cannot exercise any right over non-members, thus, any decision or proceedings by ASCI is void at the outset,” Himank Tripathi, President, External Affairs & Investor Relations, EaseMyTrip, told IANS.

EaseMyTrip said that it has filed a civil lawsuit “assailing the decisions of ASCI on many counts and presently the matter is sub-judice before the court and it is next listed on 22.03.2022”.

“The court has issued a notice to ASCI in the said matter,” said Tripathi.

According to the ASCI, the EaseMyTrip advertisement was in contravention of Chapter I of the ASCI Code.

EaseMyTrip claimed in its advertisement that it is India’s “second largest online travel aggregator”, which was found to be misleading by ASCI’s consumer complaints council (CCC).

“The CCC discussed that on a particular date/day it may be possible that EaseMyTrip offers lowest prices for bookings, but this cannot generalise that they always offer lowest prices as compared to their competitors. EMT charges a Convenience Fee which is only waived by using a coupon code and this has not been clarified in the advertisement, which is misleading and is in contradiction of the claim made,” according to the ASCI.

The CCC observed that the official website of EMT only consisted general terms and conditions and not the specific terms and conditions applicable for the claims made.

Based on these observations, the CCC concluded that the voice over claims, “ticket prices on EaseMyTrip are always lowest as you don’t pay convenience fee”, and “0 Convenience Fees”, were not substantiated and are misleading by omission.

“The claims are likely to cause widespread disappointment in the minds of the consumers,” the ASCI said in the CCC recommendations.

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