Ticketmaster has been fined C$4m ($3m/€2.7m/£2.4m) and agreed to make a number of operational changes following proceedings brought by Canada’s competition watchdog over deceptive ticket pricing.
The Live Nation-owned ticketing giant, along with its Canadian arm and subsidiary TNOW Entertainment Group, will pay the penalty, as well as $500,000 for costs incurred by the Canadian Competition Bureau (CCB) during its investigation into the ‘drip pricing’ practices.
Under the consent agreement, the companies will establish a compliance programme to confirm that their advertising complies with Canadian consumer law.
The CCB investigation found Ticketmaster’s advertised ticket prices did not reflect the final cost to the consumer after mandatory fees were added on later in the purchasing process.
The CCB, which is an independent Canadian law enforcement agency that ensures that markets operate in a competitive manner, said that the price representations were misleading even though the amount of the fees was disclosed before consumers completed their transaction. The additional fees often added more than 20 per cent and, in some cases, over 65 per cent to the advertised prices.
Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition at the CCB, said: “Canadians should be able to trust that the prices advertised are the ones they will pay when purchasing tickets online. The Bureau will remain vigilant and will not tolerate misleading representations.
“The Bureau expects all ticket vendors to take note and review their marketing practices, knowing that the Bureau continues to examine similar issues in the marketplace and will take action as necessary.”
The agreement, signed yesterday (Thursday), follows the Bureau’s January 2018 application to the Competition Tribunal seeking to put an end to alleged false or misleading advertising by Ticketmaster, and a public statement in July 2017 calling on all sporting and entertainment vendors to review their marketing practices and display the real price of tickets upfront.
The Bureau claims that Ticketmaster has already made a number of changes to its websites and mobile applications, and has applied these changes across Canada.
The ticketing giant said in a statement: “Ticketmaster welcomes new consumer protection legislation across Canada to improve transparency, fight cheater bots that steal tickets, and reduce fraud in the secondary sales market and will continue to actively participate in federal and provincial conversations to create the safest ticketing environment for fans and event owners alike.”