cineplex called out over hidden online booking fee scaled
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Cineplex called out over hidden online booking fee

The Competition Bureau of Canada accuses Cineplex of deceptive advertising, and it’s taking its case to the Competition Tribunal.

Legal action against the entertainment company alleges it is breaking the law by charging customers more for tickets than the price listed on its website.

“A bureau investigation found that many consumers cannot buy tickets on Cineplex’s website or mobile app at advertised prices because it adds a mandatory $1.50 online booking fee to the price of a ticket,” read a statement from the bureau.

Amendments to the Competition Act consider hidden fees a harmful business practice that is misleading under the law. Only governments are allowed to levy those costs in the form of a sales tax.

The suit said the booking fee generated significant revenues for Cineplex since it introduced it last June.

“Consumers expect to pay the advertised price,” said Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell. “For years, we have urged businesses, including ticket vendors, to display the full price of their products upfront.”

The application to the Competition Tribunal calls on Cineplex to stop “the deceptive advertising,” pay a penalty, and reimburse consumers who bought tickets through its website or app.

Cineplex said the fee is not misleading and fully complies with the law.

“We have been working with the bureau since late 2022 in an open and transparent manner,” it said in a statement. “Our online booking fee is entirely optional and provides the convenience of advance seat selection. All of this information is clearly stated on our website.”

It expects the tribunal will dismiss the suit.

It’s not the first time the bureau has targeted companies over unlisted fees. It’s also gone after car rental companies and the online sporting and entertainment industries.

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