• An investigation from Canada’s Competition Bureau found Ticketmaster at fault for advertising ticket prices that were not attainable for consumers
  • The CCB found through “mandatory fees” Ticketmaster charged from 20 percent to over 65 percent more than the advertised price
  • Last year Ticketmaster was accused of working with ticket scalpers following an undercover story from CBC News and the Toronto Star

Ticketmaster is facing a $4.5 million fine after Canada’s Competition Bureau decided the company was taking part in deceptive marketing practices due to mandatory fees applied to ticket costs during later stages of the purchasing process. The CCB determined the purchase process regularly added fees ranging from 20 percent to over 65 percent of the advertised prices.

What Happened

In January of last year, the CCB took legal action against Ticketmaster and their parent company Live Nation for advertising ticket prices that were deceptive. The CCB accused the company of “drip pricing,” the practice of adding on fees during the purchasing process that forces the consumer to pay much higher than the advertised price. Ticketmaster’s “mandatory fees” included “service fees,” “facility charges” and “order processing fees.” These mandatory fees reportedly charged some consumers over 65 percent of the advertised price.

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. Together, these actions send a strong signal to online retailers: consumers must have confidence that advertised prices are the ones they will pay.

John Pecman Comissioner of Competition

In response to the initial accusations from the CCB, Ticketmaster claimed to have “long practiced transparency to enable informed purchasing decisions.” Ticketmaster said they would continue to “work closely with Provincial governments to enhance consumer protection.”

Ticketmaster 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.

Ticketmaster

A Hefty Fine

Despite Ticketmaster’s claim of transparency for consumers, the CCB decided to fine the company $4 million along with an additional $500,000 for the bureau’s investigation costs. Ticketmaster LLC, TNow Entertainment Group Inc. and Ticketmaster Canada LP were named in the hefty fine. The CCB’s investigation found the company’s advertised prices were “not attainable because they added mandatory frees during the later stages of the purchasing process.”

Other Accusations

Later in 2018, Ticketmaster was also accused of working behind the scenes with online ticket scalpers to gain more commission revenue. If the accusations are true Ticketmaster would be violating their own terms and use policy. Journalists from the CBC News and the Toronto Star went undercover as ticket scalpers in Las Vegas and claimed Ticketmaster offered to help them do business. The reporters went undercover for the three-day Ticket Summit 2018 convention in Las Vegas.

Reporters listened as a Ticketmaster booth dished out a sales pitch for a proprietary software program designed to help bulk buyers resell thousands of tickets. The web-based tool called Trade Desk allows scalpers to sync their Ticketmaster purchasing accounts with their online resale operations. That means the bulk tickets bought would quickly and seamlessly go on sale on ticket reselling websites such as StubHub, Vivid Seats and Ticketmaster’s own website. If sold through Ticketmaster’s website the company gets a second commission off the “verified resale” ticket, as the company already receives a commission off the original sale. The practice would be one that directly violates Ticketmaster’s own general terms and conditions.

Use of automated means to purchase tickets is strictly prohibited.

Ticketmaster General Terms and Conditions

Ticketmaster has denied the allegations. Catherine Martin, a spokesperson for Ticketmaster, stated the presence of a “secondary market” comes with “supply and demand.” Martin went on to say it is Ticketmaster’s job to provide a safe marketplace for consumers to buy and sell tickets from both the primary and the secondary markets. In 2016 Ticketmaster claimed to have stopped five billion purchase attempts by bots.

As long as there is an imbalance between supply and demand in live event tickets, there will inevitably be a secondary market. As the world’s leading ticketing platform … we believe it is our job to offer a marketplace that provides a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy and sell tickets in both the primary and secondary markets.

In addition to our work fighting the use of automated bots, we have also taken the most restrictive stance on speculative ticketing, not allowing any seller, professional or otherwise, to post tickets we have not validated to our TM+ pages.

Catherine Martin Spokesperson for Ticketmaster

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