The consumer watchdog looked into bookings where additional costs are added to the price of the tickets in later stages of the sale. Photo: Domino Postiglione►MATT CARR: Perils of buying e-tickets
Australia’s largest ticketsellers Ticketek and Ticketmaster have been forced to clean up their act after an investigation by the consumer watchdog of their pricing practices.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission looked into ticketsellers’ “drip pricing”, where a ticket for an event is advertised at a certain price, but ends up costing more as various charges come on top during the later stages of the booking process.
The ACCC found examples where Ticketek and Ticketmaster had failed to clearly state what they called “single minimum total prices” by not including “unavoidable fees” in 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.”
As a result of the investigation, both companies now include payment processing fees in their per-ticket advertised price of tickets.
In addition, Ticketek include their service/delivery fee as soon as the customer selects the number of tickets required and the delivery method, while Ticketmaster includes its handling fee once the number of tickets has been chosen.
Three types of fees were targeted during the investigation – the payment processing fee, Ticketek’s service delivery fee and Ticketmaster’s handling fee.
The payment processing fee applies to certain events and for people using a credit or debit card to complete their transaction. It doesn’t apply to transactions at the box office when using cash or redeeming gift vouchers.
Ticketek’s service/delivery fee is charged on a per-transaction basis for certain events, varies depending on delivery method, but is unavoidable when applied, irrespective of the payment method.
Ticketmaster’s handling fee is also charged per transaction for certain events and when applied is also unavoidable.
“The steps taken by these ticketing companies should give consumers more clarity up-front about the total cost of buying tickets for entertainment events,” Ms Rickard said.
To avoid paying more than they expect, consumers should be aware of drip pricing practices online, particularly in the airline, entertainment, accommodation and car hire industries, the consumer watchdog advised.
They should also shop around and weigh up all payable charges when choosing the best price, and be prepared to walk away from transasctions that add additional charges in later stages of the sales process, the ACCC said.Continue Reading →