Computicket accused of being anti-competitive

Computicket’s commissions and fees are excessive, according to the Competition Commission, which intends prosecuting the ticket service for anti-competitive practices.

Computicket, owned by Shoprite Holdings, has a market share of 95%. The commission says it maintains its stranglehold over the outsourced ticketing services market by violating the Competition Act.

The commission referred its case against Computicket to the Competition Tribunal this week, following complaints by rival companies Strictly Tickets, Artslink, Going Places, TicketSpace and Ezimidlalo Technologies lodged between February 29 2008 and September 17 last year. The complaints have been consolidated into a single case.

Computicket stands accused of using 1 155 long-term exclusive contracts to close more than 90% of the market to competitors. Normally lasting for about three years, these allegedly prevented customers from selling tickets through competitors.

Its ticketing rivals have 10 contracts between them, none exclusive.

“It appears from the commission’s investigation that Computicket commenced concluding these exclusive contracts with inventory providers when a company called Ticketweb entered the relevant market in competition with it in 1998,” says the commission’s referral affidavit.

Although it acquired Ticketweb in 2001, it allegedly continued concluding exclusive contracts with inventory providers.

The commission has asked the tribunal to levy an administrative penalty of 10% of Computicket’s 2009 turnover and declare the exclusivity clauses in its contracts void and of no effect.

Shoprite Holdings said that Computicket cooperated with the commission during its investigation and explained the exclusivity provisions.

“In recent years Computicket has extended its ticketing services to be made available to all South African consumers at their local supermarket — and at more than 600 stores,” said the holding company.

“It does not determine the ticket prices charged for events and it does not control the types of events organised. It collects a commission only on the sale of tickets.”

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Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye is a freelance journalist and one of the founders of The Con.

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