Canada's Competition Bureau took legal action today against Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation for allegedly advertising ticket prices that are deceptive.
The bureau argues that the prices are deceptive due to "mandatory fees" that are added later in the purchasing process. The practice, dubbed "drip pricing," results in consumers paying much higher prices than are initially advertised.
The "mandatory fees" include "service fees," "facility charges" and "order processing fees." The bureau found that Ticketmaster's mandatory fees can inflate the advertised price a ticket by more than 20 percent and, in some cases, by more than 65 percent.
"In July, we called on ticket vendors to review their marketing practices. Today, we are filing an application with the Tribunal to stop Ticketmaster from making deceptive claims to consumers," commissioner 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."
UPDATE (01/25, 4:14 p.m. EST): Ticketmaster has released a statement regarding the Competition Bureau's actions. It reads as follows:
Ticketmaster remains committed to getting tickets into the hands 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.
The Competition Bureau has filed an application with the Competition Tribunal, seeking to end the "alleged deceptive marketing practices," in addition to "an administrative monetary penalty."
The organization called upon sporting and entertainment ticket vendors to review their marketing practices and display the real price tickets up front in a public statement last July.