Canada’s government has announced plans to introduce rules limiting so-called “junk fees,” mirroring a similar plan announced by President Biden in the United States. The effort, announced as part of the budget 2023 planning process, will target these “unexpected, hidden, and additional fees” in industries that include live event ticketing.
“Inflation is still making it difficult for many Canadians to make ends meet and put food on the table,” says the announcement of the budget priorities on the Department of Finance website. “That’s why Budget 2023 delivers new, targeted inflation relief for the most vulnerable Canadians to help support them with the cost of living.”
Details regarding Canada’s plans to address these fees, which in ticketing come about as “service” fees that are hidden from consumers until the last step of a transaction despite being unavoidable, are minimal. The announcement merely states that the government will work with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories to reduce junk fees for Canadians.
President Biden’s campaign against Junk Fees began late in 2022 and has begun to take shape, most notably in the recently announced “Junk Fee Prevention Act” introduced by democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
In that proposed legislation, ticketing would see the imposition of an “all-in” pricing model, where the price shown must actually be the price a consumer will pay for tickets if they choose to purchase them. It would also limit excessive fees across many industries, while impacting ticketing with rules surrounding the disclosure of ticket “holdbacks” (tickets held from public sale at the time they are initially offered), and “speculative” ticketing (when tickets are listed for sale before they have been purchased from the box office, in effect “short-selling” the ticket market in anticipation of prices falling).
While some have questioned how holdback transparency is lumped in with “junk fees,” President Biden directly asked for holdbacks to be dealt with in his fees reform plans. This is because the practice of holding back tickets is often done in deliberate fashion to imply that events are closer to being sold out than they actually are, fueling perceived supply shortages that are designed to convince consumers to buy tickets, even when prices are surged at early stages in the sales process.
It is unclear how closely Canada’s rules surrounding “junk fees” will mirror the proposals on this side of the border, but it signals the continued willingness of governments in North America to intervene on behalf of consumers to deal with issues in the ticketing marketplace.
Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Dave Clark