Reading time: 3 minutes

How many times have you gone to purchase your movie tickets online only to find that the cinema has snuck in a mandatory booking fee? Fear not – the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is on your side. The ACCC has recently fined Palace Cinemas Pty Ltd (Palace Cinemas) $10,800 for not properly displaying the total ticket prices of movies in the online booking process.

The ACCC issued Palace Cinemas with an infringement notice because it was concerned that Palace Cinemas was making a part-price representation by not providing the purchaser with the total ticket price during the booking process.

Instead, the $1.30 booking fee was only displayed at the very last page. The user did not have an opportunity to factor this cost in until they were at the end of the booking process.

Leaving out the compulsory booking fee when making price representations is considered a breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the ACCC can issue infringement notices where it believes the ACL has been contravened.

According to ACCC Chairman Rod Sims, other cinema chains such as Hoyts and Village have responded to the ACCC’s concerns about the pricing representations, but Palace Cinemas did not respond well.

Chief Executive of Palace Cinema Pty Ltd, Benjamin Zeccola, defended the business and remains adamant that they have always been compliant with the ACL as far as their technology would allow. He backed his position by explaining that their website did not have the capability to display the mandatory booking fee until the last page. Zeccola explained that the website could not calculate the total price of the ticket and the booking fee and that it required the user to click ‘proceed’ to calculate the total fee.

Palace Cinema has paid the penalty of $10,800, but it is not an admission of the contravention. Rather, Zeccola explained that they paid the fine in this situation because there is no other mechanism to dispute it.

While Chairman Sims acknowledged Zeccola’s explanation of the technology hindrance, the primary goal of the ACCC has been to work with the cinema industry to improve pricing practices. Sims views cinemas presenting clearer pricing information as a way to assist consumers in being able to make more informed decisions when it comes to movie ticket prices.

It is not the compulsory online booking fee that is the concern, but rather the fact that it was not clearly displayed and communicated to users before reaching the end of the booking process.

Key Takeaways

To avoid being issued with a similar infringement notice, make sure that you display clearly your prices for goods or services. If there is any additional fee that will be added to the total price, let the consumer know early. If the ACCC considers your pricing representations to be part-prices, or not adequately displayed, you may be found to be in contravention of the ACL.

***

If you have any questions about complying with the ACL, get in touch with our consumer lawyers on 1300 544 755.

Webinars

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Online
Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards