Consumer Commission Will Investigate Ticket Price Gouging

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has said it is investigating the presence of hidden ticketing fees and charges, plaguing consumers with high, unforeseen ticket prices.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, punters attending gigs, festivals, sports and productions around the country are charged up to $9.15 on top of already expensive tickets, regardless of how they purchase them.

“The practice of incremental disclosure of additional fees and charges – often referred to as drip pricing – is a key focus,” an ACCC spokeswoman told Fairfax, while declining to disclose how many complaints it has received about booking fees.

Most of the money from these added booking fees goes directly to the event organisers or venue, according to the Herald. Profits are also sometimes split with the ticketing agency when ticket sales are outsourced.

“Consumers should not be continually frustrated by out-dated booking systems, especially when paying top dollar to use them,” wrote consumer advocate body Choice in a report last year. “Choice believes all components of a ticket price should be revealed to consumers up-front.”

For years now Choice have highlighted Ticketek and Ticketmaster as the two biggest culprits of excessive booking fees. “To get exclusive ticketing rights, these companies have to pay the venue owners ‘key money’, which they recoup through high ticket profit margins,” the consumer body wrote in a 2009 report. “The result is a duopoly that does little for competitive pricing…”

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey told the SMH these extra booking fees or “credit-card surcharges by another name” are too expensive and that the ticket price should already include the cost of providing the ticketing service.

He also said that credit-card surcharges should be capped at less than 1 per cent of a transaction. The Reserve Bank introduced similar measures last year, allowing credit-card companies to cap the credit-card surcharges retailers pass on, but as of yet Australia has no regulatory body overseeing this.

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