I am usually extremely excited for the release of Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest‘s line-up. In case you aren’t from Ottawa, Bluesfest is the largest most extravagant music event held in the Nation’s capital. It is a two week long outdoor festival that attracts world renown talent including: Rise Against, Billy Talent, The Tragically Hip, Death Cab for Cutie, The Black Keys, Blue Rodeo, and Death From Above 1979, just to name a few. This year, Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest targeted youth by advertising discounted festival passes, great idea right? The day of the line-up release, Bluesfest’s website advertised these Youth Festival Passes for ages 10 – 25 with prices to be released a few days later. Pre-sale tickets had just gone on sale, and as a 23 year old I decided to wait for the youth price to be released knowing that it would be a much better deal. I was right, Youth Festival Passes went on sale for $99, however, as soon as the price was released, the upper age limit was decreased to 21. How can an organization get away with misleading their customers like this? As a business student, I knew something was not right so I decided to investigate further. Turns out this false advertising is actually a “Bait and Switch” which is a violation of the Competition Act. I have made multiple attempts to contact Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest to rectify this situation with no success. I received an e-mail last week offering me the pre-sale ticket price for two festival passes ($230), which is not what I requested of them. This is an illegal act on their part and I will not be satisfied with this. I e-mailed back asking to be put in touch with upper management, and I have not yet heard anything. It has been a week. So, what next? I am not going to put up with this, and nor should you. Anyone between the age of 22 and 25 should have an opportunity to purchase Youth Festival Passes at the advertised $99. If this relates to you I strongly suggest standing your ground and abstaining from buying tickets until they are ready to face the consequences of their misleading actions. With power in numbers we will get what are entitled to and deserve. Tweet your thoughts using #bluesfestfail, let’s fix this.
Below are details regarding Bait and Switch selling. (From the Competition Bureau)
What Is the Competition Act?
The Competition Act is a federal law governing most business conduct in Canada. It contains both criminal and civil provisions aimed at preventing anti-competitive practices in the marketplace.
Bait and Switch Selling
Under the Competition Act, retailers are prohibited from advertising products at bargain prices that they do not have available in reasonable quantities.Liability will be avoided where the advertiser can establish that the non-availability of the product was due to circumstances beyond its control, the quantity of the product obtained was reasonable, or the customer was offered a rain check when supplies were exhausted.Retailers who contravene the law may be ordered by a court to stop the conduct, to publish a corrective notice, and/or to pay an administrative monetary penalty. For more information on bait and switch selling, please visit http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/ or contact the Competition Bureau.
How bait and switch selling affects you as a consumer
You are attracted to a store by an advertisement for a bargain-priced product. Once inside, you discover that the product that was advertised, the “bait,” is sold out or otherwise not available. The switch occurs when a salesperson pressures you into purchasing a higher priced item as a replacement, or if you find yourself induced to make other purchases while inside the store. In both cases, the retailer successfully captures your shopping dollars by luring you to the store with an advertised bargain that was never intended to be made available in reasonable quantities.