The advertisement text “Last chance! We have 1 room left” on the website of Booking.com has once again been the subject of a complaint submitted to the RCC (Dutch Advertising Standards Authority). This time it concerned an ad text for the Trimstone Manor Country House Hotel on Booking.com.
We already reported previously at length on the earlier decision from the Board of Appeal of the RCC which found that Booking.com’s promotional texts ‘We have 1 room left!’ and ‘Only 1 room left at € [price]’ are misleading. This was in response to a justified complaint from journalist Max Kohnstamm.
The RCC’s most recent decision, concerning the Booking.com ad for Trimstone Manor, explicitly cites the decision from the Board of Appeal mentioned above. This decision now clearly serves as guidance. In this case, the complainant argued that claims like “Last chance! We have 1 room left” are inaccurate and incite consumers to make a booking. According to the complainant, this text just means that the particular hotel has made only one room available to be booked via Booking.com’s platform. The RCC agreed with that and held that:
“In relation to the notice “Last chance! We have 1 room left”, the Authority refers to the decision from the Board of Appeal of 3 July 2014 (file 2014/00190) concerning (among other things) a similar complaint filed against Booking.com. In this decision the Board held – summarised briefly here – that it is not adequately clear to the average consumer that “we have 1 room left” specifically concerns Booking.com’s supply and that “we” does not refer to the particular hotel. The Authority sees no reason to deviate from this opinion in the case at hand.
As such the notice in question is accompanied by ambiguous information in relation to availability as referred to in the opening lines and in b of section 8.2 NRC. Since this could prompt the average consumer to take a decision on a transaction that he would not otherwise have taken, this notice is misleading and consequently dishonest in the sense of section 7 NRC.”
Booking.com was advised to stop advertising in this manner.
By Joost Becker