Australia’s leading ticketing outlets Ticketek and Ticketmaster will be forced to be more upfront with consumers about additional ticket charges, following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into “drip pricing” practices.
The investigation into “drip pricing” – the practice of incrementally heaping on additional ticketing fees and charges during the course of online purchases – began earlier this year, spurred on by complaints from customers and consumer rights watchdogs.
In the course of their investigation, the ACCC found instances where Ticketek and Ticketmaster did not adhere to Australian Consumer Law when they failed to clearly state “single minimum total prices” by not including “unavoidable fees” in the initially advertised ticket prices.
“Although the law does not prevent traders from charging fees, it does require that they are disclosed clearly to avoid consumers being misled,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said. “Drip feeding consumers with hidden charges has the potential to cause detriment to competition and to consumers.”
For years now consumer body 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.”
While these fees won’t exactly disappear, both companies will now have to include payment processing fees upfront in their online advertised ticket prices. Additionally, Ticketek will include their service/delivery fee when the customer selects the number of tickets and the delivery method, while Ticketmaster will includes its handling fee once the number of tickets has been chosen.
“Ticketmaster is committed to transparency and we have implemented these practices to strengthen this commitment, which the ACCC has acknowledged,” said Ticketmaster Australia’s Managing Director, Maria O’Connor, in a statement (via TMN). “We see ourselves as the leading example of good practice in the ticketing market and will continue to work to provide customers with fair and transparent pricing structures.”
“The steps taken by these ticketing companies should give consumers more clarity upfront about the total cost of buying tickets for entertainment events,” added Rickard. The ACCC has also warned consumers to be aware of misleading drip pricing practices when shopping online, to do your research by shopping around and to make sure you reject anything you do not want to purchase by thoroughly checking your booking before making any final payments.