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Greater Anglia tickets claim leads watchdog to warn rail operator

PUBLISHED: 11:22 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:22 30 April 2019

Greater Anglia will continue to issue paper tickets for weekly season tickets. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Greater Anglia will continue to issue paper tickets for weekly season tickets. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Greater Anglia has removed an online claim that "It's the end of weekly paper tickets" after the advertising watchdog warned them it could be misleading.

The rail company is trying to encourage people with weekly season tickets to switch to smart tickets or have tickets on their mobile phones – but under the terms of their franchise paper tickets still have to be available.

That was made clear in the small print at the bottom of the online notice, but the Advertising Standards Authority said this contradicted the top of the article.

A spokesman for the watchdog said: “I can confirm that we received a complaint in connection with an ad seen on the Greater Anglia website for Smart Cards.

“The complainant objected to the fact that the claim 'It's the end of paper tickets!' was contradicted by statements made elsewhere about the issuing of paper tickets on specific routes and under certain circumstances, and that the claim was therefore misleading.

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“We considered there to be a potential problem under our rules and contacted the advertiser to issue an Advice Notice; Greater Anglia agreed to amend its advertising.”

He said there was no need to launch a full investigation because Greater Anglia agreed to amend its website as soon as the advisory notice was sent.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said the notice was always due to come down on April 30. She added: “The print at the bottom made it clear the paper tickets were available fore specific routes, but most people with these kind of tickets prefer to have smart tickets – they are more flexible and quicker to get you through the barriers.”

The company's campaign had attracted more people to take up the smart tickets.

Derek Monnery from the Essex Federation of Rail Users' Associations said the company had been caught out – and this should be seen as a warning to them.

He said: “They are trying to promote more modern tickets, but this time they got a bit over-enthusiastic! The fact is that while new tickets might be more convenient for most people, paper tickets still have to be available under the terms of their contract and that has to be made clear in any advertising that the company does.”

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