Movie tickets – clearer online pricing

Palace Cinemas Pty Ltd (Palace Cinemas) has paid a penalty of $10,800 after being issued with an infringement notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as a result of ACCC concerns with Palace Cinemas’ online pricing practices of their movie tickets. 

Palace Cinema - movie tickets
The place depicted is both the head office (not pictured, on the right), and original cinema  of Palace Cinemas in Australia. Photo by Colliric (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The ACCC issued an infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Palace Cinemas had breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by failing to prominently disclose the total single price of movie tickets, including the compulsory booking fee, for movie tickets purchased using its online booking process.

The ACCC was concerned that Palace Cinemas made a part-price representation without prominently specifying a single total cinema ticket price throughout the booking process.

“Online traders risk breaching the Australian Consumer Law if they make price representations that exclude mandatory booking fees when advertising ticket prices online,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“This sort of conduct has the potential to affect the purchasing decisions of consumers who focus on the advertised price, without being aware of the final price which includes additional fees that have to be paid as part of the transaction, such as booking fees. It may also reduce the extent to which consumers shop around because searching and comparing prices between websites is made more difficult,” Mr Sims said.

This outcome follows broader ACCC engagement with the online cinema ticketing industry, aimed at improving pricing practices to ensure that the advertised prices of movie tickets do not exclude mandatory applicable booking fees.

“The ACCC is pleased that its focus on clearer pricing by cinemas selling movie tickets online has resulted in some improvements. Consumers now have access to more straightforward pricing information which enables them to make more informed decisions about buying movie tickets online,” Mr Sims said.

The payment of a penalty following the issue of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ACL. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice if it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.

Further information about the ACL single pricing provisions and component pricing can be found at Advertising and selling guide.



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