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StubHub fined in Canada, as Viagogo ‘completes’ takeover

StubHub and StubHub Canada have been penalised $1.3m by Canada's Competition Bureau for ‘misleading’ drip pricing

By Jon Chapple on 17 Feb 2020

Paul Nowasad, GM of StubHub Canada

Paul Nowasad, GM of StubHub Canada


StubHub Canada and its San Francisco-based parent company, StubHub Inc., have been fined a collective C$1.3 million (US$983,000) by Canada’s Competition Bureau for ‘misleading pricing claims’ in the resale of tickets for entertainment and sports events.

An investigation by the Competition Bureau, Canada’s competition regulator, found that StubHub “advertised tickets at unattainable prices on its websites, mobile apps and in promotional emails to Canadians”. The listed prices were unattainable due to StubHub’s mandatory fees, which are added later – a practice known as ‘drip pricing’, which has drawn the ire of the bureau previously.

In addition to the fine, StubHub will in future list all mandatory fees throughout the ticket-purchasing process, as well as establishing a compliance programme to prevent further unlawful competition or advertising issues in future.

“Prices advertised online for event tickets should reflect the true cost of buying those tickets.

“The bureau is committed to challenging false or misleading pricing claims”

“The bureau is committed to challenging false or misleading pricing claims in the digital economy, and reminds all vendors to review their marketing practices,” comments Matthew Boswell, Canada’s commissioner of competition.

Paul Nowosad, general manager of StubHub Canada, is rather more pro-StubHub about the penalty, saying the company is “ once again enhancing the experience for fans from the outset of the purchase process.”

The fine comes as Viagogo announces it has ‘completed’ its acquisition of StubHub from eBay, despite the US$4bn mega-merger still needing sign-off by multiple regulatory bodies, including the CMA in the UK.

Explaining the mysterious press release, a Viagogo spokesperson tells IQ the companies remain separate businesses – and will be until regulators give the go-ahead – but that the financial aspects of the deal have been completed.

 


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