Ticketmaster troubles; Tim Hortons offers treats to settle class-action suits: CBC’s Marketplace cheat sheet

CBC Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Consumer and health news from the week starting Aug. 1

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How does Ticketmaster get away with charging so much? It's complicated

If you've been to even a single concert in the last few decades, you've probably spent some time trying to answer the above question about Ticketmaster's prices.

While it stretches nearly as far back as the establishment of the ticket seller, it recently centred on Bruce Springsteen. Two weeks ago, after spending hours waiting in a digital line to get tickets for his upcoming North American tour, many fans of the Boss came face to face with all that was left: "dynamic price" tickets — which shift up and down based on demand — going for as much as $5,000 US, with all of the more modestly priced face-value tickets long gone.

Upset over Ticketmaster's market dominance and lack of transparency, Springsteen fans are demanding to know the reasoning behind the ticket giant's seemingly nonsensical prices.

WATCH | The high cost to see the Boss:

Springsteen fans express outrage over Ticketmaster’s ‘dynamic pricing’

4 days ago

Duration 2:00

Bruce Springsteen fans were shocked to see ticket prices as high as $5,500 US for his upcoming tour. At the heart of the controversy is Ticketmaster’s ‘dynamic pricing’ policy, which automatically surges some ticket prices when demand is high.

But given a closer look, their frustrations are nothing new — it's just a symptom of a monopolistic industry and the complicated nature of ticket-selling.

Pascal Courty, a professor of economics at the University of Victoria, believes breaking up Ticketmaster's monopoly would help create an incentive to solve some of these problems. But Shiraz Mawani, an independent ticket broker and YouTuber in Toronto, says it's not that simple.

Mawani said that while the company could mitigate fan anger by making it so "verified fans" don't somehow find themselves on a web page offering dynamic pricing after hours of waiting, the issue will persist regardless of whether Ticketmaster shrinks or grows.

"You're always going to have this problem," Mawani said. "There's always going to be that discrepancy between how much someone is willing to pay at face value versus what someone's actually gonna be paying, down the street, for market value."

Ticketmaster did not respond to a request for comment from CBC, and both Ticketmaster and Springsteen's team have defended the dynamic pricing model. Read more

Tim Hortons wants to settle class-action lawsuits with a very on-brand solution: free coffee and doughnuts

Tim Hortons says it has reached a proposed settlement in multiple lawsuits alleging the restaurant's mobile app violated customer privacy which would see the restaurant offer a free coffee and doughnut to affected users.

The proposed settlement comes after an investigation by federal and provincial privacy watchdogs found Tim Hortons mobile ordering app violated the law by collecting vast amounts of location information from customers.

In a report released last month, privacy commissioners said people who downloaded the Tim Hortons app had their movements tracked and recorded every few minutes — even when the app was not open on their phones.

The company says the settlement, negotiated with the legal teams involved in the lawsuits, still requires court approval. Read more

A pot of Tim Hortons coffee sits on a hot plate in a coffee shop.

Inflation is eating into family budgets. Here's how to avoid some of its worst effects

From child care and housing, to food and vacations, we've all noticed the effects of rising inflation this year.

But how can we keep our budgets balanced even as prices rise across the board?

Scott Hannah, CEO of the Credit Counselling Society, suggests that with ballooning costs, some sacrifices may be necessary.

Analyzing what can be eliminated from your family's budget, or replaced with cheaper alternatives, is a good place to start. He also suggests using a coupon app for grocery shopping.

"Late night while you're bottle-feeding or breast-feeding the baby, flip through the Flipp app and find some deals and do some price matching when you're in the grocery store."

Buying in bulk is another option, Hannah says, with small families teaming up with larger ones. Shoppers can also cash in loyalty points and swap name brands for generic ones. Even a slightly awkward conversation with family members to lower holiday gift expectations may be wise.

"No one wants to receive a gift from someone who can't afford to give it," he said. Read more

Do you have an inflation story to share? Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca

Two people wearing masks examine school supplies in the aisle of a store.

As big investors eye Canada's housing market, advocates worry individuals won't be able to compete

Could big investment firms intent on buying homes in Canada make it harder for the average Canadian to purchase their first home?

These firms have become the biggest new buyers of U.S. homes — and advocates worry about what the consequences for individual buyers will be if and when the companies move into Canada.

The trend of money managers buying single-family homes to rent out is "a new phenomenon" for the Canadian market, said Christopher Alexander, president of ReMax Canada. He thinks the notion could catch on here as it has south of the border, especially given recent price declines.

"The lower you can buy as an investor, the higher the chance of selling high," Alexander said in an interview.

"They are well capitalized, they are smart and they have the means to make an impact in the marketplace."

Meanwhile, advocacy groups fear families won't be able to compete against money managers with billions in assets. Read more

A man with a face mask wears a cardboard house on his head atop a bike helmet.

What else is going on?

Toronto's Pearson airport has a PR problem: It's known as the worst airport in the world

Some tourism groups fear travellers may choose to bypass Toronto.

After the Great Resignation, where did all the Canadian workers go?

Stories from across the country tell of people leaving their jobs during the pandemic and turning to new careers, education and priorities.

Here's why all of your social media is trying to be TikTok now

Social media giants like Facebook and Instagram are trying to catch up to TikTok's video dominance, and users don't like it.

Marketplace needs your help

Do you love shopping at malls? What draws you into a store and keeps you browsing? Tell us about your favourite stores and why! If you're in the GTA, we may even take you shopping with us for an upcoming episode! Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca

Getting stuck in a long line at the grocery store is one thing, but how about when it comes to health care? Tens of thousands of Canadians are waiting for surgery, and for many, as that wait drags on, so does the pain and suffering. Email us your surgery wait time stories at marketplace@cbc.ca

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