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Now Canada warns ticketers over ‘drip pricing’

The Competition Bureau, which has previously fined car-hire companies $4m+ for not including extra fees in prices, has told ticket agencies to fall into line

By Jon Chapple on 11 Jul 2017

John Pecman, competition commissioner, Competition Bureau Canada

image © FTC

The Competition Bureau, the government agency responsible for enforcing competition law in Canada, has warned sellers of entertainment and sports tickets they could face court action unless they end the practice of ‘drip pricing’.

In a statement, the bureau calls on ticket agencies, both primary and secondary, to “review their marketing practices and display the real price of tickets upfront”. “To attract consumers, some companies in the ticketing industry offer low prices online or on mobile apps,” it reads. “However, additional mandatory fees, taxes or charges are added later in the purchasing process, and the real price of the tickets ends up being much higher.”

The intervention by the bureau follows a similar warning by its counterpart in the Netherlands, the Authority for Consumers and Markets, which has given ticket agencies until 1 October to include all additional “unavoidable costs” in the base price of tickets.

Research by the Competition Bureau shows additional mandatory fees could increase the prices consumers pay for concert tickets by up to 57% more than advertised.

“To promote continued innovation … it’s critical that consumers have confidence the prices they see online are the ones they will pay”

“Canadians spend billions of dollars online each year buying tickets to their favourite sporting and entertainment events,” comments John Pecman (pictured), the Canadian commissioner of competition. “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.”

The bureau further warns that, although it “tries to settle matters without resorting to lengthy and costly court proceedings”, it “will not hesitate to take the necessary action to ensure compliance with the law”.

The Competition Bureau has previously taken successful legal action against car-hire companies it found guilty of drip pricing. Hertz and Dollar thrifty were fined C$1.25 million (US$968,000) in April, while Avis and Budget were forced to fork out C$3m (US$2.3m) the previous June.

 


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