Cineplex sued for “junk fees”

*If you’ve bought a movie ticket in the last year, you may be entitled to compensation*

That's because Canada’s Competition Bureau is suing Cineplex, the country’s largest movie theatre chain, for advertising tickets at a lower price than what customers actually pay. The issue lies in an online booking fee of $1.50 that Cineplex has been adding to its checkout since June 2022.

  • These mandatory fees generated $11.7 million in extra revenue for Cineplex over five months, which the company was pretty fired up to share in its last annual report

Why it matters: Unfortunately for everyone selling anything, you can’t just start charging people hidden fees to make up for losing 57% in revenue the year before. The Bureau alleges that Cineplex is breaking the law by sneakily raising the price of its online tickets.

  • The Bureau is looking for Cineplex to 1) cut it out, 2) pay a penalty, and 3) issue restitution to affected consumers.
  • We regret to inform you this might not mean Cineplex tickets will get $1.50 cheaper, since the chain could (very legally) bump up its base prices.

Catch-up: In 2022, the Bureau amended the Competition Act to call out drip pricing explicitly—also known as “junk fees”—as a harmful business practice. 

Zoom out: In 2019, the Bureau sued Ticketmaster in a similar case of what we’re calling “mandatory fee swindling,” which ballooned the advertised prices of tickets through the late stages of the purchase process. Ticketmaster was ordered to pay a $4 million penalty.—SB