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Misleading holiday home advertisements banned

A Cyprus property owner has been rapped by advertising watchdogs for posting misleading and untruthful descriptions of an apartment and luxury villa on holiday websites by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK.

A WOMAN who complained about Lorraine Nevins on behalf of a 15-strong wedding party said the exaggerated claims made the holiday an ‘absolute nightmare’.

Mrs Nevins, from Prestwich, near Bury, was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority after complaints about a three-bed villa and two-bed apartment the group had booked near Larnaca in southern Cyprus.

One advert for a ‘stunning three-bed villa’ in Pyla Village said it was a 15-minute drive from Larnaca Marina. The woman holidaymaker however claimed it took twice as long.

The advert stated that it took 15 minutes by car to reach Larnaca Airport, a figure the woman again said should have been 30 minutes.

A bowling centre was described as ‘only a 15-minute walk away’.

But the woman, who asked not to be named, said: “It was more like a 45-minute walk. Nothing was in walking distance at all. There was one corner shop within walking distance and that was it.

“It was nothing like the situation on the advert. You needed a car to get anywhere, despite what it said on the website. The beach was described as a five-minute walk away. It was more like 30 minutes.

“You put so much trust in the people who you book with. I just want people to be aware.

Mrs Nevins however disputed the claims – and said she had paced out distances personally.

But the ASA, which monitors national standards, upheld all the complaints. Investigators found Ms Nevins admitted that the bowling centre was double the stated distance away. And they concluded that the rest of the advert was ‘misleading’ as no evidence of distances was provided.

The guests were given an information sheet but received no detailed map, the ASA ruled.

Mrs Nevins, of Old Hall Lane in Simister, was ordered to change the wording of the adverts. She owns and rents out eight apartments and a villa in the area. Both villa and apartment at the centre of the complaint are virtually next door.

The ASA said: “The complainant challenged whether the claims in the ads were misleading and could be substantiated. Because we had not seen sufficient substantiation in support of the claims relating to journey times from the apartment and villa, we concluded that the advert was misleading on those points.

“The adverts must not appear again in their current form.

Summer prices per week for the apartments and villa, which include swimming pools and jacuzzis, were around £575.

Ms Nevins however, who subsequently walked and drove the distances herself, accused the party of the leaving the apartment and villa unclean and ‘in a right state’.

The holidaymaker dismissed that claim as ‘completely false’.  Mrs Nevins said: “I think that the ASA has been a bit harsh. Maybe I was wrong about the distance from the bowling alley. I went through everything when I was notified of this.

I still say now that the distances are not far off. We do recommend a car in Cyprus. I acknowledge the report and have changed what needs to be changed but it is not all one-sided. I have done everything to the best of my ability. All the ASA had to do was to call me up and ask me to change it. They have made a mountain out of a molehill.

“It was not done deliberately to mislead anyone.

menc

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