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July 5, 2017

On July 4, 2017, the Competition Bureau (Bureau) issued a statement warning sporting and entertainment vendors to ensure that their upfront pricing was accurate.

In particular, the Bureau cautioned ticket sellers that engaging in “drip pricing” (i.e., only disclosing a portion of the price upfront with additional mandatory fees, taxes or charges added later in the checkout process) can violate the misleading advertising provisions of the Competition Act.

The failure to accurately disclose the price of a product or service upfront can potentially violate the Competition Act as either a literally false claim (e.g., the upfront price is false) or as a misleading claim (i.e., the failure to disclose additional important terms or conditions, such as additional fees).

Upfront pricing disclosure is one of the Bureau’s top advertising enforcement related priorities and the Bureau has commenced several major drip pricing related cases over the past several years (e.g., cases against Avis and Budget for allegedly violating the Competition Act by failing to adequately disclose the full prices for car rentals). See Avis and Budget to ensure prices advertised are accurate.

Brands and agencies should also note that even if the terms and conditions for a purchase are legally enforceable from a contract law perspective, they can nevertheless raise Competition Act misleading advertising issues where there is inadequate disclosure of important terms, such as the failure to clearly state the price of a product upfront.

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    WELCOME TO THE CANADIAN COMPETITION & REGULATORY LAW BLOG

    I am a competition and advertising lawyer based in Toronto who blogs on competition and advertising law and interesting legal and policy developments relating to business, white-collar crime, corruption and Internet and new media law.

    I offer business, association, government and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, regulatory and new media law. I also offer compliance, education and policy services.

    My more than 15 years experience includes advising clients on hundreds of domestic and cross-border competition, advertising and marketing, promotional contest/sweepstakes, conspiracy/cartel, abuse of dominance, compliance, refusal to deal and pricing and distribution matters.

    For more information about my services, see here.