Ticketmaster and Live Nation have found themselves in the crosshairs of Canada’s Competition Bureau, which announced Thursday that it is suing the entertainment giants for allegedly misleading consumers on pricing for sports and other ticketed events.
According to multiple outlets, the investigation found that advertised prices are deceptive because consumers wind up paying additional fees added later in the purchasing process, which they referred to as “drip pricing.” The investigation found that Ticketmaster’s fees often inflated the prices of a ticket by more than 20 percent. In some cases, the fees totaled as much as 65 percent of the price consumers pay.
The Competition Bureau has requested that the Competition Tribunal – another governmental agency – put an end to the deceptive marketing practices and hit the Live Nation-owned company with a financial penalty.
“In July, we called on ticket vendors to review their marketing practices. Today, we are filing an application with the [Competition] Tribunal to stop Ticketmaster from making deceptive claims to consumers,” Commissioner of Competition John Pecman said in a statement.
“Together, these actions send a strong signal to online retailers: consumers must have confidence that advertised prices are the ones they will pay,” Pecman said.
In response, Ticketmaster issued a statement, telling the CBC that it “remains committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans and has long practiced transparency to enable informed purchasing decisions. Ticketmaster continues to work closely with provincial governments to enhance consumer protection and provide the best ticketing experience for fans.”
It should be noted that transparency was exactly the part of Ontario’s recent ticketing regulatory udpates that the industry fought hard against, and got taken out of the final version of the bill that passed in 2017.
Following fan outcry due to the rapid sellout of the farewell tour by The Tragically Hip after the terminal diagnosis of frontman Gord Downie, the Ontario government introduced legislation aimed at banning “bots” used to purchase tickets rapidly and in bulk, capping resale markup, and requiring resellers to display the original face value of tickets. It also included a requirement that promoters and venues make known to the public the actual number of tickets available to the general public for any show, after the numerous layers of holdbacks for fan clubs, venues, promoters, politicians, and others.
That last bit – transparency – was cut out of the final bill after Live Nation and Music Canada Live essentially told Ontario officials that many acts might avoid Ontario altogether should such a requirement be put in place.