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The Canadian government, through its Competition Bureau, has issued Ticketmaster with a CND $4.5 million fine ($3.44 million in U.S. dollars).

The fine was issued after an investigation revealed that the company had inflated the advertised prices of tickets purchased either online or through one of its mobile apps from 20% up to 65%.

The ruling came after the government had sued Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, in January of last year.

The fine includes a CDN $4 million penalty and an additional CDN $500,000 fine for the cost of the investigation.
In addition to the fine, a number of Ticketmaster subsidiaries will have to submit to a 10-year agreement that will ensure that they will comply with all relevant laws into the future.

The Competition Bureau’s investigation determined that consumers could not buy tickets at the advertised prices because of fees that were required at the end of the purchasing process.

The Bureau also stated that the Ticketmaster subsidiaries had 30 days to comply with Deceptive Marketing Practices Provisions of Canada’s Competition Act.

The mandatory fees that Ticketmaster added at the later stages of the purchasing process are known in the industry as “drip pricing,” and they can include such things as:

  • Service fees
  • Facility charges
  • Order processing fees

Inflated ticket prices are not the only issue Ticketmaster has been struggling with as of late. At the same time the Competition Bureau was conducting its investigation, the company battled charges that it was actively working with various ticket resellers to artificially inflate ticket prices.

Ironically, those charges stemmed from an investigation by the Toronto Star, which secretly recorded a Ticketmaster employee disclosing secret deals with scalpers.  The stunning admission helped to explain why ticket prices are frequently unavailable, or only purchasable at extreme prices.

Jared Smith, who is the president of Ticketmaster, denied the allegations when they were made.  Still, he added that the company was conducting an internal investigation into the matter.  The charges eventually led to another lawsuit against Ticketmaster.