The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertisement by the short let management service Airsorted because the firm was unable to substantiate comparative claims made about a rival service.
Airsorted was also unable to prove claims about how much the typical customer could expect to earn if they used its services.
The issue arose after Facebook and Airsorted’s own website carried a grid earlier this year, comparing services offered by Airsorted itself and a rival operator, Hostmaker.
The comparisons included “Free 24hr check-in … Anytime [sic] of day or night”, “More flexibility … Adjust our pricing to your needs”, “Business ready travel compliant … Tap into the growing corporate travel market” and “Personal dedicated service … You get a client success manager who knows your home”.
Against each of those categories, the grid stated “Yes” for Airsorted and “No” for Hostmaker.
In addition, a Facebook ad seen on February 20 featured text which stated "Airsorted is the World's biggest Airbnb Management Company" and "We can help you earn around 300% more from your property".
Further text stated "Airsorted - 1 bed in Whitechapel Made £3112 last month".
Hostmaker complained to the ASA challenging whether the comparative claims in the grid and the claims "World's biggest Airbnb Management Company" and "We can help you earn around 300% more from your property" were misleading and could be substantiated.
Hostmaker also challenged whether the comparative claims in the grid were verifiable.
Airsorted told the ASA that it would make changes to the grid advertisement but did not specify what changes would be made or, in the words of the ASA “provide any substantive response to the complaint.”
The ASA has now upheld the complaints, with judgements suggesting that Airsorted had not provided any documentary evidence to substantiate the claims made within the grid table, such as demonstrating that Hostmaker did not offer a free 24-hour check-in to their customers.
“We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading” says the authority.
The judgement says Airsorted had not provided any documentary evidence to substantiate the two written claims made, such as data comparing the earnings with their competitors for the same or a similar Airbnb listing.
“Because of that, we concluded that both claims were misleading” says the ASA.
In conclusion the authority has stated: “The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Airsorted to ensure that future ads did not make claims by comparison with identifiable competitors, unless they held adequate evidence to substantiate and verify the claims.”