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Netherlands orders clarity on ticket pricing

Competition regulator ACM has reminded online sellers of their legal obligation to include "unavoidable" fees in tickets' face values, giving them until 1 Oct to comply

By Jon Chapple on 05 Jul 2017

Saskia Bierling, ACM

image © ACM

The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the Dutch competition watchdog, has given online ticket agencies trading in the Netherlands until 1 October to comply with the legal requirement to include all additional fees in ticket prices.

According to ACM, Dutch law mandates ticket sellers include all “unavoidable costs”, including booking or processing fees, in the “base price” of a ticket. “Avoidable costs”, such as optional extras or upgrades, may be displayed at a later stage in the booking process.

The organisation – which replaced the Netherlands Competition Authority in 2013 – lists ensuring ‘clear prices and conditions’ for event tickets as one of its key priorities.

Bernadette van Buchem, director of ACM’s consumer department, says: “Consumers must not be confronted with additional costs during the booking process that they were always required to pay.”

Ticket sellers have until 1 October to adjust their prices, after which ACM can compel them to do so.

“Consumers must not be confronted with additional costs they were always required to pay”

The intervention comes after a number of complaints to ACM regarding the cost of concert, theatre and festival tickets. “They particularly reported that they were confronted with additional costs during the booking process that were not indicated beforehand, but that they still had to pay,” adds ACM consumer protection spokeswoman Saskia Bierling (pictured), “such as administrative costs, service fees or print costs.

“Tickets that initially seemed like a good deal soon became considerably more expensive – up to 20% more than the original price.”

CTS Eventim, which operates in the Netherlands as Eventim Nederland, has been instructed by two German courts it may no longer charge fees for printing tickets; it has appealed the decisions to Germany’s supreme Federal Court of Justice.

ACM last year dropped an investigation into the Dutch secondary ticketing market, saying it had found “no evidence” primary and secondary outlets were colluding to gouge prices.


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