Ticketmaster Canada Settles Deceptive Pricing Lawsuit for $3.4 Million

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TORONTO -- The Government of Canada's Competition Bureau has determined that Ticketmaster Canada will pay a total of $4.5 million (USD $3.44M) after an investigation into its online and mobile app ticket price practices revealed it topped up advertised costs by more than 20% -- and sometimes as much as 65%.   

The Bureau sued Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation in January 2018.  

The fines levied against Ticketmaster L.L.C., TNow Entertainment Group, Inc. and Ticketmaster Canada LP are a $4 million penalty plus $500,000 for the costs incurred by the Bureau during its investigation.

"This concludes the Bureau's legal action against Ticketmaster and other related companies," the news release issued by the government states. "The Bureau's investigation concluded that Ticketmaster's advertised prices were not attainable because they added mandatory fees during the later stages of the purchasing process. In the Bureau's view, the price representations were misleading even though the amount of the fees was disclosed before consumers completed their transaction."

In addition to the required payment, Ticketmaster L.L.C., TNow Entertainment Group, Inc. and Ticketmaster Canada LP registered a 10-year "consent agreement" with the Competition Tribunal, which includes establishing a compliance program to ensure all of their advertising abides by the law.

"The Bureau publishes various guidelines, bulletins and pamphlets to provide information and to promote compliance with the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, the Textile Labelling Act and the Precious Metals Marking Act," it states on the government's corporate compliance programs page.

"The Bulletin on Corporate Compliance Programs provides guidance to help Canadian businesses design their own program to prevent or minimize their risk of contravening the Acts, and to detect contraventions, should they occur."

In 2017, The Competition Bureau sports and entertainment ticketing companies to reassess their marketing practices and advertise the real, final-end price of tickets.  The addition at check-out of taxes, service fees and other charges is called "drip-pricing," deemed misleading to consumers.

Ticketmaster has already applied "a number of changes" to its websites and mobile apps, the release states, to ensure compliance and transparency to consumers.

"Canadians should be able to trust that the prices advertised are the ones they will pay when purchasing tickets online," said Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition, in a statement. "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 Bureau encourages Canadians to report deceiving pricing claims via the Bureau's online complaint form or by phoning 1-800-348-5358.

UPDATE: On June 28, Ticketmaster released the following statement:

Today Ticketmaster announced that it has resolved proceedings brought by the Commissioner of Competition in Canada.
Last July, Ticketmaster was the first ticket company to voluntarily ensure total prices were displayed upfront to Canadian consumers.  We look forward to the Competition Bureau and individual provinces ensuring that all other ticket marketplaces in the live event industry meet the same standards.
Ticketmaster is committed to leading the industry in consumer safety and transparency and has also adopted best practices to protect Canadian live entertainment consumers that include:
1.      Clearly disclosing if tickets are being sold at the original face value or are being resold at prices that may be above or below face value    
2.      Banning the practice of listing tickets for sale at inflated prices before they are even purchased, a practice known as "ticket speculation” 
3.      Clearly identifying if we are the official primary ticket marketplace for an event and, if we are not, identifying which marketplace is
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.