Canada's Competition Bureau Investigates Ticketmaster, Live Nation on 'Deceptive' Pricing

Courtesy Photo
Ticketmaster

The Government of Canada’s Competition Bureau, an independent law enforcement agency that ensures businesses operate in a competitive manner, took action Thursday (Jan. 25) against Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation for “allegedly making deceptive claims to consumers when advertising prices for sports and entertainment tickets,” according to a statement.

“In July, we called on ticket vendors to review their marketing practices,” comments John Pecman, Commissioner of Competition. “Today, we are filing an application with the Tribunal to stop Ticketmaster from making deceptive claims to consumers. Together, these actions send a strong signal to online retailers: consumers must have confidence that advertised prices are the ones they will pay.”

The investigation determined that Ticketmaster inflated its advertised price in the late-stage of the purchase, adding several mandatory fees -- including service fees, facility charges and order processing fees -- known as “drip pricing.” Customers reportedly ended up paying more than 20 percent more than the advertised price, and, in some cases more than 65 percent

Last July, the Competition Bureau called “on sporting and entertainment ticket vendors to review their marketing practices and display the real price of tickets upfront” and linked to a complaint form page for consumers.

The Bureau states that Ticketmaster -- which sold more than 480 million tickets worldwide in 2016 -- has allegedly made the deceptive marketing claims on various websites, including ticketmaster.ca, ticketsnow.com and ticketweb.ca, and on mobile applications.

The Bureau has filed an application with the Competition Tribunal seeking, among other things, an end to the alleged deceptive marketing practices and an administrative monetary penalty.

The Canadian Press story on the filing includes a statement from Ticketmaster claiming it "remains committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans and has long-practised transparency to enable informed purchasing decisions” and that it's working with the provincial governments to enhance consumer protection.

Live Nation could not be reached for comment.