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Caution for car dealers over wording of fixed service adverts

Car dealers are urged to take care in wording adverts for fixed price servicing after Toyota GB was criticised by the advertising watchdog.

The carmaker ran a radio advert which stated: "Ever wonder why some garages call fixed price servicing 'fixed price', when prices aren't actually fixed? You know how it works, you bring your car in, somebody takes your keys, you come back hoping everything's fixed and then the fixed price bill arrives. But it wasn't fixed: this needs fixing, that needed fixing. The bill? Not fixed. At Toyota, we've got a national fixed price for servicing your vehicle. A fixed quote, with all the work you needed fixed, at a price fixed with you. Toyota fixed price servicing from only £99. For conditions visit, participating Toyota centres only."

After a complainant challenged whether additional charges might apply if further work was required, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled the advert was misleading.

Toyota had maintained that the meaning of "fixed" and what was included within "a fixed price" were made clear in the ad, and listeners were directed to a dedicated servicing website for further information, which detailed three levels of service plus certain nationally fixed price repairs.

They also maintained that it was clear from the website that customers might have to pay more for specific maintenance options, which were not included in the fixed price because Toyota could not know beforehand if a vehicle required such work.

The ASA ruled: "We considered that the ad had not made any reference to what was included in the fixed price apart from a reference to the website for further information. Because we considered that their "fixed" price was as subject to change as the other garages with which they were comparing themselves, we concluded that the ad was misleading."


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