Canada’s Competition Bureau has ruled that ticket reselling website StubHub will pay a $1.3 million penalty to correct what it says were misleading price listings by the retailer.
Tickets for entertainment and sporting events were listed on the website, its advertisements and corresponding app, at prices lower than what consumers were being charged at final sale, thanks to hidden fees. Those fees were not visible until the final stages of a transaction unless users had turned on a filter that would enable them to see the actual cost of an event with all the fees factored into the price.
The Competition Bureau also found that even in instances with the right filters turned on, consumers were still being charged more at final sale than the price that those filters listed as being fully inclusive of fees.
“Prices advertised online for event tickets should reflect the true cost of buying those tickets. The Bureau is committed to challenging false or misleading pricing claims in the digital economy, and reminds all vendors to review their marketing practices,” said commissioner of competition Matthew Boswell in a statement.
StubHub is voluntarily cooperating with the bureau. Part of the court-ordered, 10-year-binding agreement includes the retailer establishing a compliance program to prevent discrepancies in pricing from arising again. The program will make the boundaries of the Competition Act and its violations explicit to all its employees.
This news comes a year after Ticketmaster paid $4.5 million in penalties and costs incurred to the Competition Bureau after an investigation concluded it was also misleading consumers with prices that weren’t actually attainable. Ticketmaster’s practices were similar to that of StubHub where additional fees were only tacked on during the final stages of a transaction. The bureau found that the additional fees sometimes amounted to over 65 per cent of the original advertised price.
The bureau made misleading costs a priority target in a 2017 announcement, saying that ticket retailers should make their sales practices more transparent to consumers. Similar rulings were made against car rental agencies Avis/Budget, Hertz, Enterprise and Discount for their own opaque pricing practices, what the bureau dubs “drip-pricing.”
To date, successful actions against these companies have resulted in $11.25 million in penalty fees.