Tiger Airway’s FREE (but with charges) ANZAC DAY sales drive is disgraceful, disrespectful and insulting.

As pointed out in this item in Crikey today, it is also contrary to rules and laws that its competitors obey.

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Tiger Airways launched a blatant Anzac Day rip off this morning leaving itself open to prosecution under the Crimes Act and by the ACCC.

It announced a special ANZAC Day sale ‘with more than 30,000 FREE seats’ for travel between 1 June and 30 September.

Two problems. The use of the term ANZAC is protected under Australian law from commercial exploitation except under very limited and specific conditions which include the prior approval of the Veterans Affairs department.

And under ACCC rules an advertised free seat or fare means $0.00, not $0 plus airport charges and GST of between $22.08 and $35.13 plus a ‘convenience fee’ of $5.

The ACCC’s rule on domestic air fares and the law in relation to GST prohibit the breaking out of that tax and other sub components of a fare and compel the advertising of the full price of the goods or services being offered to the consumer.

The national president of the RSL, Major General Bill Crews said this morning “Potentially Tiger is in breach of the act in relation to the protection of the names Anzac and Anzac Day from commercial exploitation.

“I note that particularly in this case we are not talking about air fares available for use on Anzac Day, which could have been of benefit in relation to reunions and the commemoration of the day.

“The first flights on offer under this Anzac Day sale are not available until June.

“The whole purpose of this exercise seems to be to associate the commercial sale of seats for use in a general sales promotion with Anzac Day and has no proper association with the observances of this day, and this is of considerable concern.”

The Minister for Veteran Affairs Alan Griffin is in France in advance of ceremonies marking Anzac Day but guidance issued by the department is that this is a most serious issue, and that approvals for activities which associate themselves with Anzacs or Anzac Day must among other things be directly related to its observance .

All of which makes Tiger Airways Australian managing director Shelley Roberts sound rather grubby.

Roberts spruiks the FREE ANZAC Day sale in the media release saying “ANZAC DAY (her emphasis) is a special time for Australians to unite for commemorations.

“As Australia’s true low fare airline, we’re thrilled to offer consistently the lowest airfares across the country so Australians can come together or take a well deserved break, more often,” she is quoted as saying.

This crass drivel might pass for typical low grade PR on an ordinary day, but this is about Anzac Day, and this effort to cash in on it by the Singapore Airlines controlled token low cost entry in the Australian market is offensive and illegal.

Under the relevant parts of s.4B of the Crimes Act as applied to an Anzac Offence a person can be imprisoned for up to 12 months or fined $6600 or both, and a body corporate can be fined up to $33,000.

Earlier this week a Perth brewery renamed a special brew made to a World War 1 recipe a ‘Memorial Ale’ to avoid infringing the act protecting the word Anzac from commercial exploitation.

Apart from permitted social and fund raising events on the day, the only widespread commercial use of the term Anzac that is allowed is in relation to Anzac Biscuits, and they have to conform strictly with the original recipes.

In several conversations with Tiger’s spokesperson in Australia the airline has claimed that the public doesn’t understand low cost airlines and the manner in which they work to achieve very low fares.

I’ve suggested in reply that keeping money for flights that don’t operate, or double debiting customers, or making it impossible for people to contact the carrier isn’t a case of providing low fares at all. It is a matter of theft, or at least very bad manners.

Those who have been complaining to Crikey and other media about Tiger paid money and have received nothing as yet in some cases. The Tiger claim to be providing cheap fares for those who actually get nothing in return is clearly false.

And it is patronising to suggest that Australians don’t understand low cost carriers given the rise of Virgin Blue and Jetstar in the years before Tiger arrived, and the substantial price competition from Qantas that has taken place.

What we don’t seem to understand is an airline that can’t be contacted and hasn’t mastered the corner shop art of reversing a credit charge charge in less than one minute.

The question has been asked here several times just what the majority stakeholder in Tiger, Singapore Airlines, thinks about the consumer disquiet about this unpleasant and unaccountable little outfit, and how inconsistently it sits with its own profile of being a top quality yet fiercely price competitive brand in the Australian market?

This needs fixing.

This statement was issued by Tiger late this afternoon:-

Tiger Airways apologises if its latest sale offer, which coincides with ANZAC Day weekend, may have caused any offence.

This was not at all intentional. Tiger Airways has contacted the RSL in this regard and has offered its apologies.

Tiger Airways is making a donation to the National RSL as a gesture of goodwill.

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