The Federal Trade Commission is accepting public comments on a proposal made by New York University academics on banning so-called “drip pricing” in ticket purchasing. The comment period is open through Wednesday, with anyone able to submit comments through the FTC website here.
Drip pricing is the practice, common in ticketing, for fees to be hidden from consumers until the final stage of the transaction process. Often, this even means after personal contact information or payment details are added, with the real price hidden until that point. The proposal moves to ban that practice through FTC rulemaking.
The proposed regulatory language put forth by the NYU group, The Institute for Policy Integrity:
“It is an unfair or deceptive act or practice and unfair method of competition to advertise or solicit the sale of a product or service without prominently disclosing the entire price to be paid by the customer inclusive of all unavoidable fees and service charges (excluding government taxes). Although unavoidable fees and charges included within the single total price disclosed may also be stated separately from the total price, such statement of fees and charges may not be false or misleading and may not be presented more prominently or in the same or larger size as the total price. In addition, all other fees or service charges that might foreseeably be assessed in connection with the sale of the product or service, including additional fees for optional services, must be conspicuously disclosed in the advertisement or solicitation.”
In short, the proposed rule levels the playing field for consumers by doing away with the practice of hiding unavoidable fees until the very end of a purchase.
“A ban on hidden fees and drip pricing would represent a huge win for consumers and improve the functioning of markets where the practice has taken root,” said Max Sarinsky, a senior attorney with the Institute in an op-ed published by the New York Times last summer. “For the commission’s new majority, which is eager to protect consumers, such a regulation should be a high priority.”
Ridding the market of drip pricing has been a sticking point for some regarding ticketing, as some marketplaces have embraced an all-in pricing model for consumers, while others doggedly stick to the drip model.
FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter indicated the organization’s willingness to make rules related to such practices back in 2019 during the agency’s “That’s the Ticket” workshop addressing online ticket sales. A number of ticketing operations have taken her warning to take consumer-friendly action related to pricing disclosures to heart, offering either a true all-in pricing model such as MegaSeats or TickPick, or at minimum a toggle allowing for prices with fees to be displayed by default, according to a recent survey by TicketNews.
For those wishing to leave their own comments regarding the FTC and drip pricing, visit the comments page, and click tbe blue button (Comment).