On October 21st 2012 Alitalia—Compagnia Aerea Italiana S.p.A. started a promotional campaign on their Japanese website. The core of the marketing strategy was a voucher code - PROMOJP - which allowed customers to deduct JPY 25,000 of the booking price. The promotion was planned to run out on October 26th 2012.
The website stated that the promotional voucher had NO restrictions, except that it cannot used for flights between 20.12.2012 and 06.01.2013.
After a lot of customers, probably thousands, booked flights via the Japanese Alitalia website using the promotional voucher code, lots of them were able to get flights at a very reduced price or even for free because the voucher was worth the booking price.
After customers booked their flights, they received a confirmation e-mail from Alitalia including date and time of the flight, e-ticket numbers, seat numbers and the booking price after the voucher deducted.
Some customers even called the service team of Alitalia booking flights through their hotline. It was no problem using the promotional voucher there as well.
After Alitalia realized that thousands of people booked cheap flights or even flights at the price of 0 Euro / 0 Japanese Yen, the airline started to send out mass e-emails saying the bookings/reservations have been cancelled due to their anti-fraud system. This means, Alitalia says only Japanese people are meant to use the promotional voucher.
Neither the website nor the hotline of Alitalia stated the fact that only Japanese people with a Japanese IP-address or Japanese credit card can book flights using the voucher. This means, the terms and conditions at the time of the booking apply. These were as stated above (no restrictions except a date). Legally, the people who booked their flights entered a binding contract with the airline company.
Furthermore, a lot of people didn't even had to enter their credit card details due to the voucher code and therefore the excuse of Alitalia that a fraud happened (using a non-Japanese credit card) is not valid.
Alitalia has no right to cancel all booking that used the promotional voucher, just maybe because they realized after how many people would be able to buy tickets at a very low fare.
Therefore, this behaviour shown by Alitalia breaks European legislation, namely: Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91.
Therefore, we call the European parliament to oblige Alitalia to allow customers to use their purchased tickets, also if they used the promotional voucher and therefore reduced their booking price to 0 Euro / 0 Japanese Yen.
A failure in a company's marketing strategy should not be forwared to customers and punish them.
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