Competition Bureau sues Ticketmaster for inflating prices with mandatory fees

In this May 11, 2009 file photo, Ticketmaster tickets and gift cards are shown at a box office in San Jose, Calif. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File

Canada’s Competition Bureau is suing Ticketmaster for deceptive practices.

The Bureau claims that the ticket sales and distribution giant, along with its parent company Live Nation, is at fault for using “drip pricing,” when the company adds mandatory fees that inflate the price of the ticket late in the sales transaction.


The practice is misleading, officials said, because the ticket can never be purchased at the advertised price.

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They claim the tickets can be inflated by more than 20 per cent, and “in some cases, by over 65 per cent.”

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The Competition Bureau is a federal agency that is part of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and oversees competition in Canada.

The Bureau first warned all ticket vendors about the “misleading” practice in July 2017, when officials asked companies to review their marketing practices.

“Ensuring truth in advertising in Canada’s digital economy is a priority for the Bureau and targeting hidden fees is a key part of its efforts,” officials wrote in July.

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The Competition Bureau announced Thursday, seven months after the warning, that they filed an application with the Competition Tribunal and were seeking an end to drip-pricing along with a fine.

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“In July, we called on ticket vendors to review their marketing practices. Today, we are filing an application with the Tribunal to stop Ticketmaster from making deceptive claims to consumers,” John Pecman, Commissioner of Competition, said in a release.

“Together, these actions send a strong signal to online retailers: consumers must have confidence that advertised prices are the ones they will pay.”

Ticketmaster officials didn’t mention the lawsuit while responding to questions from Global News Thursday afternoon.

“Ticketmaster remains committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans and has long practiced transparency to enable informed purchasing decisions,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Ticketmaster continues to work closely with Provincial governments to enhance consumer protection and provide the best ticketing experience for fans.”

It’s not the first time the company’s run aground of the Competition Bureau. In 2010, the bureau reviewed the merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation.

The bureau found that in order to resolve competition concerns Ticketmaster had to sell its subsidiary business Paciolan and license its ticketing system to its competitors.


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