June 28, 2019
By Amanda Branch and Iris Cheung
On June 27, 2019, the Competition Bureau reached an agreement with Ticketmaster and related companies. Under the agreement, Ticketmaster L.L.C., TNow Entertainment Group, Inc. and Ticketmaster Canada LP will pay a $4 million penalty and $500,000 for costs incurred by the Bureau during its investigation. The companies will also establish a compliance program within 90 days after the execution of the agreement. This consent agreement concludes the Bureau’s legal action against the companies on allegedly misleading pricing claims in online ticket sales.
The Bureau filed for an application to the Competition Tribunal on January 25, 2018, alleging that Ticketmaster and related companies had engaged in deceptive marketing practices by promoting the sale of tickets to the public at prices that are not in fact attainable and then supplying tickets at prices above the advertised price on their online ticketing platforms. The Bureau’s investigation concluded that Ticketmaster’s advertised prices were not attainable because they added mandatory fees during the later stages of the purchasing process. These additional fees could often add more than 20% and, in some cases, over 65%, to the advertised prices.
In recent years, the Bureau has been targeting deceptive pricing practices and has launched several investigations to address the tendency of some advertisers in the digital economy to trumpet a very appealing price for a product, while concealing the true total cost. For instance, in July 2017, the Bureau issued a public statement calling on all sporting and entertainment vendors to review their marketing practices and to ensure the real price of tickets was displayed upfront. The Bureau has investigated several companies in the car rental industry on alleged misleading representations and has reached four consent agreements that led to a total of $5.95 million in administrative monetary penalties since 2015.
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