Oct 12, 2023 2 min read

Proposed new FTC rule would force all-in pricing on ticketing platforms in the US

The US Federal Trade Commission has proposed a new rule to ban ‘junk fees’, which, among other things, would force ticketing platforms to adopt all-in pricing, highlighting upfront the full cost of a ticket including booking fees

Proposed new FTC rule would force all-in pricing on ticketing platforms in the US

The US Federal Trade Commission has proposed a new rule to target what President Joe Biden refers to as "junk fees".

"Junk fees cost American families tens of billions of dollars each year and inhibit competition, hurting consumers, workers, small businesses and entrepreneurs", the White House said in a statement yesterday welcoming the proposed new rule. "Junk fees also make it hard for honest businesses to compete, stifle innovation and hurt small businesses".

Junk fees are mandatory extra costs added to purchases during a transaction process, so that a product ends up costing more than the originally advertised price. Although such fees are found in various sectors, one industry that is routinely criticised in this domain is ticketing.

How ticketing platforms deal with booking fees and suchlike varies from country to country, often depending on local regulations. In some countries, such as the UK, all-in pricing is standard practice, which means the price listed in ads and on the main page of a ticketing website includes any additional fees. But in some places, including the US, the fees are usually added at the final stage, sometimes significantly increasing the total cost of a ticket.

Actually, most ticketing companies in the US support a shift to all-in pricing. However, if one platform voluntarily makes the move, it means that - at first glance - its tickets look more expensive than those being sold by its rivals. Therefore many in the ticketing business have called for a regulation forcing everyone to move to all-in pricing at the same time.

The Biden government has made banning junk fees in the US a priority objective. Its statement yesterday explained that, if finalised, the new rule being proposed by the FTC "would ban businesses from charging hidden and misleading fees and require them to show the full price up front. The rule would also require companies disclose up front whether fees are refundable".

Bill Pascrell Jr, one of the members of US Congress who has been calling for more regulation of the ticketing business - including mandatory all-in pricing - yesterday welcomed the FTC's proposed new rule.

“Today’s latest announcement is a major victory for Americans who remain under the thumb of deceptive ticketing pricing schemes", he said. "It has also been over three years since the FTC’s ticket workshop I pushed for where every major ticket seller in the primary and second marketplace announced their support for all-in pricing. But President Biden is turning happy talk into action and accountability, and I believe he can get this consumer victory done".

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