A Lawsuit Accuses Cineplex Of Illegal Drip Pricing & Wants 'Restitution' For Affected Customers

Cineplex denies any wrongdoing.

Staff Writer
The outside of a Cineplex building in Canada.

The outside of a Cineplex building in Canada.

Movie tickets are only getting pricier, but the Competition Bureau of Canada says Cineplex has been adding extra costs illegally. The bureau is launching legal action against the theatre company for allegedly advertising tickets as cheaper than they really are online, in what the agency claims is an example of "drip pricing."

Drip pricing is the process of listing something at a certain price point, then adding a mandatory fee that increases the cost.

The Competition Bureau investigated Cineplex and alleges that advertised prices are often not true to the final online and app sale prices of each ticket, which includes a flat $1.50 booking fee.

Some fees are fine, like government-imposed sales taxes, but mandatory fees with no clear purpose are considered junk fees and are illegal under recent amendments to the Competition Act, the bureau says.

Cineplex has included the $1.50 fee since June 2022, so the bureau claims the company has been able to "[generate] significant revenues" from it.

In response to the bureau's action, Cineplex released a statement denying any wrongdoing. "We are disappointed by the statements made today by the Competition Bureau at a time when the [Competition] Tribunal has not yet considered and decided the matter," the company wrote. "Our online booking fees are not misleading and fully comply with the letter and spirit of the law."

Cineplex claims its "online booking fees are entirely optional and allow for advance seat selection."

It's seeking a dismissal of the lawsuit.

The bureau, meanwhile, wants a penalty for Cineplex and "restitution" for any affected customers.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Willa Holt
Staff Writer
Willa Holt is a Creator for MTL Blog, often found covering weird and wonderful real estate and local politics from her home base in Montreal.