Daniel Macduff booked himself a "champagne service" flight to Cuba expecting attractive archipelagos and some champagne. In February, en route to his destination, a disgruntled Macduff was poured "a couple of ounces" of inexpensive sparkling wine in a plastic cup.
The Quebecer filed an atypical class-action lawsuit against Canadian airline Sunwing for what Macduff considers misleading advertising. According to the National Post, he is demanding compensation for the cost of the wine and punitive damages. The case remains unsettled and has "yet to be certified."
The lawsuit boils down to semantics, tangled in misleading buzzwords that Macduff interpreted as literal. ("Does a 'champagne vacation', or 'champagne service' imply tall flutes of bubbly?") Macduff's lawyer, Sebastian Paquette, says: Absolutely.
"You have to go beyond the pettiness of the (wine cost) per head," Paquette said to the National Post on Tuesday. "What's important is you're trying to lure consumers by marketing something, and you're not giving them that something … It's a dishonest practice."
Macduff, a retired civil servant, booked his holiday to an island resort of Cayo Coco in November 2016, swayed by the promise of "service au champagne." By February, Macduff boarded the plane only to receive a cheap alternative costing mere dollars.
Roughly 1,600 additional class members concede with Macduff's issue with Sunwing's use of "champagne" in a champagne-less travel package. But the Canadian airline is dismissive, pointing out that its award-winning "champagne service" suggests the level of service, and not to be taken literally.
Since Macduff filed the lawsuit, Sunwing exchanged its "champagne service" buzzwords with "welcome glasses of sparkling wine."
The Champagne wine region deals with mislabeling regularly, which is obvious considering the champagne brand itself epitomizes a particular first-rate product. The cheapest bottle of champagne in Ontario goes for $40 a pop and tops off at $3,000.
If you hear someone "popping bottles" at a party, you think "Wolf of Wall Street" level of extravagance and Jim Jones on auto-tune. Champagne wine culture is so attractive that competitors offering actual champagne or "champagne-adjacent" services are held in high regard. Bubbly and island resorts are aspirational; the coupling is obvious. All along Toronto highways are Sunwing billboards featuring grinning vacationers set beside bubbling flutes of wine.