Canada’s Competition Bureau fines StubHub CAD $1.3m

Canada’s Competition Bureau has fined StubHub Canada Ltd. and StubHub Inc. CAD $1.3 million for “misleading pricing claims in the online sale of tickets to entertainment and sporting events”.

An investigation carried out by the Canadian competition watchdog determined that StubHub advertised tickets at “unattainable prices” on its websites, mobile apps and in promotional emails to consumers in the country.

StubHub’s penalty in Canada was announced the same day (February 13) that Switzerland-based secondary ticketing firm viagogo distributed a press release announcing the completion of its $4.05 billion acquisition of StubHub – amidst an ongoing inquiry by The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the merger.

The CMA issued an enforcement order, effective from February 7, stating the two companies are banned from anything that may “lead to the integration of the StubHub business with the Viagogo business or “transfer the ownership or control of the Viagogo business or the StubHub business or any of their subsidiaries” while the CMA mulls over whether to launch a fuller investigation into the deal…

Speaking to Billboard, Viagogo MD Cris Miller said that “the two businesses, Viagogo and StubHub, will remain separate globally in line with the recent order from the CMA until their examination into the deal is complete”.

In a separate investigation, the UK’s CMA told StubHub last month that it needs to fix issues identified on the company’s UK website or face court action for potentially breaking consumer law.

In Canada, the country’s Competition Bureau also found that consumers could not buy tickets at advertised prices because StubHub charged consumers mandatory fees in addition to the prices advertised.

Unless consumers clicked or tapped to turn on optional filters to see prices inclusive of fees, those fees were only revealed at later stages of the purchasing process.

The Bureau concluded that “providing these optional filters and disclosing fees later in the process did not prevent the initial prices from being misleading”.

In addition, the Bureau found that, in some cases, consumers who filtered results to see inclusive pricing were still asked to pay more than the prices shown as inclusive of fees.

As part of an agreement registered with the Competition Tribunal, StubHub will ensure that prices for tickets to events in Canada will now include all mandatory fees throughout the ticket purchasing process.

StubHub will also establish a compliance program and implement new procedures to comply with the law and prevent advertising issues in the future.

“The Bureau is committed to challenging false or misleading pricing claims in the digital economy, and reminds all vendors to review their marketing practices.”

Matthew Boswell, Competition Bureau 

Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell, said: “The Bureau acknowledges StubHub’s voluntary cooperation in resolving this matter.

“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.”

 Music Business Worldwide

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