Visa/American Express ad dispute heads to National Advertising Review Board

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Visa USA, continuing a dispute with American Express Co., will ask the National Advertising Review Board to review a finding by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus that Visa lacked adequate substantiation for its "preferred lodging card" ad claim.

The case will be heard by a special panel appointed by the National Advertising Review Board, New York. The appeal was disclosed Dec. 23.

Ruling in American Express's favor, NAD said the ad implied that consumers prefer to use their Visa card to pay their lodging expenses, that hotel merchants prefer that costumers use Visa to pay for lodging, or that the lodging industry, overall, prefers the Visa credit card. NAD said the "preferred lodging card" line should be modified to better reflect the available evidence.

In appealing the ruling, NARB said, Visa stood by its contention that market data and other material support its preference claim. Visa had told NAD it leads all major credit cards in terms of number of cards issued, transactions made and revenues for "general spending." It also said it has the highest percentage of credit card revenue for hotels worldwide. NAD ruled such data did not support a general "preference' claim.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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