US Department of Transportation to airlines -- be careful what you tweet.
The DOT reached a $50,000 settlement with Spirit Airlines over tweets and billboard advertising which didn't adequately disclose the taxes and fees associated with the airline's $9 one-way fares.
In addition, the tweets didn't reveal that passengers needed to purchase roundtrip tickets to get the one-way $9 fares, the consent order says.
"A review of Spirit’s Twitter feed disclosed additional instances where Spirit failed to comply with the Department’s full-fare advertising rule and case precedent," the DOT says.
Here's an example of the offending tweets, which supposedly ran for a few days: "Check out our [fares] ~ from just $9* each way!"
The DOT f0und fault with the Spirit Airlines tweets because they didn't mention that passengers also needed to pay taxes and fees, and didn't cite a roundtrip purchase requirement.
In addition, people who clicked on a link in the tweet navigated to a landing page which didn't disclose the amount of taxes and fees. Instead, to learn the amount of taxes and fees, consumers had to navigate to a second page, the DOT says.
In its defense, Spirit Airlines says it thought it sufficient that the roundtrip purchase and taxes and fees requirements were cited on its Twitter homepage.
In June, Spirit also advertised its $9 fares from trucks with billboards, and although the airline disclosed “additional taxes, fees, terms and conditions apply,” the airline was guilty of deceptive practices because it didn't cite the amount of those taxes and fees, the DOT says.
In reaching the settlement, Spirit Airlines ceased these practices and didn't have to admit any wrongdoing.
As is customary in these cases, the airline has to pay a $25,000 fine within 15 days, but won't have to pay the additional $25,000 fine unless it violates the agreement within a year.
Meanwhile, some may refer to Spirit's Twitter transgressions as a case of passenger mis-tweet-ment.