The Brag Media ▼
News October 27, 2015

Fairer ticketing practices after ACCC’s ’drip pricing’ investigation

Both Ticketek Australia and Ticketmaster Australia state they have improved their ticketing practices after an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into “drip pricing”.

The inquiry began in February after complaints from customers and consumer rights advocates as Choice about hidden fees which are progressively unveiled (or “dripped”) during the course of online purchases. These include separate booking fees and charging customers for printing their own tickets.

The ACCC specifically looked at the 1.95% payment processing fees charged by Ticketek and Ticketmaster on top of the advertised ticket price. Ticketek charges $8.95 for service/delivery and Ticketmaster adds $8.35 for handling.

The ACCC announced yesterday that the full price of the ticket must be stated – and prominently so – from the outset including compulsory fees and charges. Any ’later’ charges must not be compulsory.

Its Deputy Chair Delia Rickard declared, “Although the law does not prevent traders from charging fees, it does require that they are disclosed clearly to avoid consumers being misled. Drip feeding consumers with hidden charges has the potential to cause detriment to competition and to consumers.”

Ticketek and Ticketmaster, the two largest in the Australian market, now disclose minimum fees when they quote the price or in the first stages of the transaction.

Ticketmaster Australia’s Managing Director, Maria O’Connor, said in a statement yesterday: “Ticketmaster welcomes the conclusion of the ACCC examination into pricing practices within the ticketing industry. Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, Ticketmaster had introduced new, streamlined pricing that provided an enhanced online purchasing experience for our customers and more clearly displayed ticket prices and fees.

‘“When a customer initiates an online ticket purchase, the first price displayed is inclusive of any applicable payment fee. Delivery fees are added once a customer selects their preferred delivery method, however the options and prices are displayed up front.

“Ticketmaster is committed to transparency and we have implemented these practices to strengthen this commitment, which the ACCC has acknowledged. 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.”

In June, the ACCC took action against Jetstar and Virgin Australia for failing to sufficiently disclose credit card fees at the beginning of each transaction.

Choice suggested that customers should be prepared to shop around for cheaper final prices (rather than the advertised one), back out of transactions when additional charges emerge unexpectedly, and be on the look out for offers of more expensive ’selected’ seating than random ones.

The live sector’s peak music association Live Performance Australia had earlier warned its members of the expenses of any ACCC legal action. The LPA said on its website that it “appreciates that upfront pricing clarity is difficult when fees and charges are applied to the whole ticket order, not each individual ticket.” But it emphasised all possible fees and charges be declared at the initial price representation, and to get advice from it on pricing clarity.


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