LIVE NATION Entertainment-owned Ticketmaster (TM) has reached a settlement with the Competition Bureau (CB) and agreed to pay C$4.5 million (US$3.39m) in an alleged misleading pricing case.
Subsidiaries Ticketmaster LLC, TNow Entertainment Group Inc and Ticketmaster Canada LP will pay a C$4m (US$3.02m) penalty and C$500,000 (US$380,080) for costs incurred by the CB during its investigation.
The probe found that TM made allegedly misleading marketing claims on a number of its websites, including ticketmaster.ca, ticketsnow.com and ticketweb.ca, and on mobile applications, and consequently sued the company, its affiliate companies and parent Live Nation Entertainment in January 2018.
The settlement, called a consent agreement, has the force of a court order and will be binding for a period of 10 years. The CB will continue to examine similar issues in the event ticketing market and will take action as necessary.
The companies will also establish a compliance programme to ensure their advertising complies with the law and will implement new procedures to prevent advertising issues in the future.
The CB’s investigation concluded that TM’s advertised prices were not attainable because they added mandatory fees during the later stages of the purchasing process. In the CB’s opinion, the initial prices were misleading, even though the amount of the fees was disclosed before consumers completed their transactions.
The CB concluded that the additional fees often added more than 20 per cent, and, in some cases, over 65 per cent to the advertised prices.
“Canadians should be able to trust that the prices advertised are the ones they will pay when purchasing tickets online,” says CB commissioner of competition Matthew Boswell. “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.”
TM now has to clearly disclose tickets are being sold at the original face value or are being resold at prices that may be above or below face value; ban the practice of listing tickets for sale at inflated prices before they are even purchased, a practice known as “ticket speculation”; and. clearly identify if it was the official primary ticket marketplace for an event and, if not, identify which marketplace was.
In July 2018, TM said it was “the first ticket company to voluntarily ensure total prices were displayed upfront to Canadian consumers.”
“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,” says the company in a statement.