…are you ready for it? New UK laws to clamp down on unfair pricing practices for concerts and other consumer purchases | Fieldfisher
Skip to main content

…are you ready for it? New UK laws to clamp down on unfair pricing practices for concerts and other consumer purchases


United Kingdom

As arguably the biggest tour of the year arrives in London on 21 June 2024 – that's Taylor Swift's Eras tour in case you've missed it – Jonathan Peters in our London Regulatory team takes the opportunity to look at how the new Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) Act will affect ticket pricing practices for concerts.

The UK's consumer protection law regime is being overhauled, with several major changes expected to come into force from October 2024 following the passing of the DMCC Act. One of the most significant is a ban on drip pricing, which aims to put a stop to the surprise added costs that are sometimes added at the checkout stage of an online purchase.

This will impact on a number of common scenarios where consumers may have become accustomed to facing 'hidden' prices – from purchasing concert tickets, to travel fares, rental cars and holiday accommodation.

The DMCC Act in particular specifies that:

  • An invitation to purchase must include the total price of the product, which includes any fees, taxes, charges or other payments that the consumer will necessarily incur if the consumer purchases the product.
  • If any part of the total price cannot reasonably be calculated in advance (for example, delivery costs that depend on distance), the invitation must explain how the price (or that part of it) will be calculated.

The Act does not regulate the ability of, for instance, a concert promoter, to add charges to the face value price (e.g. booking, handling and delivery fees), which might be significant. Such charges have attracted much controversy in recent years. But businesses will need to state the price upfront rather than only when the consumer reaches the checkout. The hope is that this avoids situations where concert fans and the like, who have items in their basket, feel pressure to complete the purchase when they have not had a previous opportunity to consider the full price. 

We understand all too well that with new and strict regulation, there is the risk of unintended consequences. While all mandatory fees must be shown upfront, optional fees, such as airline seat and luggage upgrades for flights, will not be within scope of the rules. It is possible that businesses will offer more elements of their products and services as 'optional extras' in order to get around the rules, even if in reality most consumers will want and expect those parts of the services.  

Businesses found in breach of the laws face hefty fines – up to 10% of worldwide turnover – for infringing consumer law. There is also the cost and resource burden of responding to lengthy investigations, and a risk to the reputation of businesses under scrutiny by the CMA. It's been a long time coming, but this is a landmark development that is expected to avoid many cruel summers for concert-goers and increase significantly the deterrent for businesses that breach consumer law.

Our fuller summary of developments under the DMCC Act is available here. If you would like to discuss this topic with a Fieldfisher lawyer, please contact Jonathan Peters.

Areas of Expertise

Public and Regulatory