Industry News

Ticketmaster sued by Canadian watchdog

Ticketmaster is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Canada’s Competition Bureau over ticketing fees.

The issue is Ticketmaster’s practice of adding fees to the price of a ticket later in purchasing process, which is often called ‘drip pricing’.

While it is widely used in the industry in the form of ‘service fees’ or ‘facility charges’, the Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement agency, claims that Ticketmaster is increasing advertised ticket prices by more than 20 per cent, and sometimes more than 65 per cent.

In the suit, Ticketmaster is accused of being “deceptive” as originally listed prices change drastically. Consequently, the Competition Bureau has filed an application with the Competition Tribunal against Ticketmaster hoping to, among other things, bring “an end to the alleged deceptive marketing practices” and hand a financial penalty to the company and its parent.

The bureau’s application argues that the operator “earned gross revenue from sales affected by the conduct in excess of several hundred million dollars in a year in Canada.”

“To promote continued innovation and growth in the digital economy, it’s critical that consumers have confidence that the prices they see online are the ones they will pay,” Competition Commissioner John Pecman said in a news release.

A spokesperson for the ticketing giant stated: “Ticketmaster remains committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans and has long practiced transparency to enable informed purchasing decisions. Ticketmaster continues to work closely with provincial governments to enhance consumer protection and provide the best ticketing experience for fans.”

The regulation of the ticketing industry has become a hot topic in Canada in the last year. In December, Ontario passed several ticketing laws including banning ticket-buying “bots” and mandating a price cap on resold tickets of 150 per cent of the original price. 

In addition, Alberta promised to ban bots as well, although it stopped short of similar transparency measures.

Image: Jared Grove