Being a ticketless fan for an in-demand event is never much fun, but those lucky few may find tickets available on a resale site. So what happens when fans are also let down by the resale sites? Disappointed rugby fan Lucy Lovell joins us to share her story…
Many times before I’ve bought good value tickets for sports events from StubHub (a resale site) without any problems. Typically these tickets would be returned seats from season ticket holders who couldn’t attend on that day.
My family loves rugby union and for years we’ve wanted to see England play at Twickenham. We’d tried and failed to secure tickets to the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and I knew that the Six Nations tickets would be hard to come by too.
But then December 2016 I was delighted to see that StubHub had tickets available for 2017 Six Nations England matches. They were expensive but given supply vs demand, I was happy to spend over the odds.
I picked out specific seats in the middle ‘tier’ and in the centre of the pitch for the best view. These were expensive (approx. 5 times face value), but this was a once in a decade family treat, so I wanted to maximise our enjoyment.
I bought the tickets with my credit card on 8 December and payment was taken by StubHub for the event in late February.
I kept it secret from the family until Christmas Day, when we all enjoyed sharing the big surprise.
Tickets would be sent to me in the post by the seller in late January, when they were issued by the RFU/Twickenham, and because of my positive experiences with StubHub I wasn’t at all concerned about waiting for them to arrive.
England hats and scarves were purchased and excitement mounted by the day throughout January.
Then I received this email from Stubhub on 3 February:
‘The seller has contacted us to advise the tickets they are unable to complete the sale with the tickets they listed however, they can provide replacements that we can offer on their behalf.
The replacement tickets for the even on offer are Lower Tier 31, Row 25.
These tickets are different to your original order placed, however we would like to confirm that you accept these tickets before we complete the replacement.
Because we are a live website, it’s possible these tickets may not be available by the time you contact us back. If you accept these tickets, please reply to this e-mail as soon as possible, or you call us on 0800-358-8585 which is free phone from land lines.
Thank you for using StubHub. We look forward to hearing from you.’
These replacement seats were in the bottom tier, in the corner, where we’d see very little of the action.
In short, they weren’t of equal value to the ones that I had originally picked and I would never have purchased them, regardless of the price. In any case, if I didn’t reply quickly, they’d sell them to someone else, so they weren’t even earmarked for us.
StubHub apologised, but said they were offering replacement tickets, as per their Ts&Cs. Eventually, after I protested many times, they offered a 3% per ticket discount to make up for the poor seats.
StubHub told me that they seek no evidence of ticket ownership from the sellers, except for ‘major’ events such as the football world cup final. So sellers can list whatever they like, at whatever price they choose.
In my opinion, this is ideal for ticket touts – list multiple tickets apparently in excellent seating locations at inflated prices, with no intent to fulfill the purchase. Wait until close to the event when you’ve maximised profits and left the buyer with no alternative channels.
We didn’t go to the match, as it would have been a huge disappointment to sit in those seats at that price. StubHub did process a full refund, but I’ll never use their services again.
This is a guest contribution by Lucy Lovell. All views expressed here are Lucy’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.
Which? contacted StubHub about Lucy’s story, a StubHub spokesperson said:
‘StubHub offers the opportunity for fans to re-sell tickets to events that they can no longer attend in a safe and secure way. As such, the tickets which are sold on StubHub are owned by the individual sellers, not by StubHub. It is the sellers’ responsibility to ensure that all their listings are accurate and ensure they update their listing should there be a change of circumstances. In this particular instance, unfortunately the seller could not fulfil their order as promised. In accordance with our market-leading FanProtect Guarantee, we contacted the buyer immediately to offer replacement tickets. However, despite the buyer being offered two alternative sets of tickets, the buyer chose to receive a full refund which StubHub fully honoured.’
We know that ticket resale sites are far from perfect. We want to investigate this further – we like to know what your experiences of using ticket resale websites have been like, can you help us?