LAXintl
Topic Author
Posts: 20183
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 12:12 pm

DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:21 pm

DOT entered into two consent orders this week.


Skywest Airlines was assessed a $40,000 civil penalty for facilitating the publication of non-compliant advertising material.

DOT found Skywest created and distributed various airport advertisements failing to properly disclose the existence of code-sharing arrangements and identify the actual operator of air-service which could result in consumer being deceived regarding the operating airline identity.

Order-2011-11-25



In second case, the department assessed Spirit Airlines a $50,000 consent decree civil penalty for violations of advertising requirements.

Spirit Airlines during a period in June 2011 ran a truck-borne billboard campaign to promote new service including advertising fares. The signs did not include language disclosing existence or amount of additional taxes and fees applied to the fares.
Additionally, it was noted Spirit’s Twitter feed failed to comply with fare advertising rules by not disclosing roundtrip purchase requirements, plus the existence and amount of fees for fares mentioned in Tweets.

Order-2011-11-23


The Spirit Tweet violation is a bit of joke imo. With so little room to get a message out, trying to cram in information on all the taxes and fees on a short 140-character message is a bit too much.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
ScottB
Posts: 5414
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 1:25 am

RE: DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:29 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Thread starter):
With so little room to get a message out, trying to cram in information on all the taxes and fees on a short 140-character message is a bit too much.

True, but then perhaps tweets aren't an appropriate medium for fare promotion for a carrier with so many fees. Or they could mention "(Fees up to $999 may apply)" using under 20% of their 140 characters.
 
RamblinMan
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Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:57 pm

RE: DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:29 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Thread starter):
The Spirit Tweet violation is a bit of joke imo. With so little room to get a message out, trying to cram in information on all the taxes and fees on a short 140-character message is a bit too much.

Just because there's a character limit doesn't mean there should be an exception to the rules. They should figure out how to be in compliance or stop using Twitter.
 
LAXintl
Topic Author
Posts: 20183
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 12:12 pm

RE: DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:48 pm

Actually seems to me what Spirit did was quite reasonable.

More specifically it tweeded following:
"Check out our fares ~ from just $9* each way!” with a link to its website.

Additionally to the website link, the restrictions and additional fees were posted on its Twitter homepage


The DOT even acknowledges it faced a precedent setting situation with this Twitter case. Ultimately as technology and advertising media changes, the department will have to review the applicability of its policies. For instance here in California soon we might have digital license plates with advertising on them when the vehicle is not moving.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
ScottB
Posts: 5414
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 1:25 am

RE: DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:27 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 3):
the restrictions and additional fees were posted on its Twitter homepage

Not everyone receiving those tweets would necessarily visit Spirit's Twitter homepage. And I'm not really a fan of diminishing consumer protections merely because of technological limitations. It seems they could post additional tweets each time disclosing fees & restrictions.
 
nws2002
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RE: DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:43 pm

Would something simple like "*add'l fees may apply" or "*see link for details" meet DOT regs?
 
ikramerica
Posts: 13730
Joined: Mon May 23, 2005 9:33 am

RE: DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:45 pm

Quoting ScottB (Reply 4):
Not everyone receiving those tweets would necessarily visit Spirit's Twitter homepage. And I'm not really a fan of diminishing consumer protections merely because of technological limitations. It seems they could post additional tweets each time disclosing fees & restrictions.

And considering there is no actual technological limitation, just a choice by Twitter to limit the characters allowed, it's no excuse. If Twitter wants to promote it's use for this type of purpose, they need to accommodate the legal requirements companies will be held to.

You can't advertise falsely in a newspaper ad simply because you have an artificially imposed limit on characters for the size ad you choose to buy in the classifieds, and the same should hold for use of Twitter.

As others have stated, maybe Twitter isn't the place to be announcing fare details.

Spirit could easily have just said "Fares so low, you might crap your pants!" and not faced these fines...  
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
 
rfields5421
Posts: 5548
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:45 am

RE: DOT Fines Skywest & Spirit

Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:05 am

Quoting nws2002 (Reply 5):
Would something simple like "*add'l fees may apply" or "*see link for details" meet DOT regs?

The deal IMHO was the asterix after the $9 - but not amplification that the asterix meant "check the web site for requirements and details".

"req'd taxes & fees will apply" would have met the requirement IMHO.

I believe the statement that fees MAY apply is blatant false advertising. There are always fees and taxes in addition to the base ticket price.

Unless the quoted price states "includes all taxes and fees" - there is no MAY APPLY.

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