/ Travel & Leisure

Have you been let down by a ticket resale site?

Stubhub ticket resale

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.

Resale tickets

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.

Ticket disappointment

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?

Share your experience


It just goes to show that StubHub, and others, are happy to have a business model which offers smoke and having minimised all their overheads they can afford to offend a number of customers without any comeback.

It would seem to me that we have had offer and acceptance of a deal. The position of StubHub in this is unclear. I would think that the stadium authorities should be advised of this situation to establish who was using those seats and had they also bought them [at no doubt a higher price] from the same party as Mrs Lovell.

My own feeling is that one should never encourage these parasitic sites who provide a glossy interface to the seedy practice of ticket touting.


It is interesting to consider the “deal” position. Stubhub were very quick to point out that the seller had not received any monies, ergo the contract was entirely with them…..


It is still an interesting position as presumably there is some form of contract and StubHub is either an agent for you or the seller. It seems it claims to be in a limbo where it collects/takes a cut of the deal but has no involvement in the process where the vendor fails to deliver.

However I cannot easily find anything online regarding the legal position. This is unfortunate .

However there is probably a well of material in the the Parliamentary sessions. I have read the report and it links to these recent 2017 sessions:

The Which? section on your rights with StubHub I feel is inadequate in that whilst true it is skimpy on the implications of what it write. Usefully it could also link to worked examples :

In the Which? advice it does specifically say that cancelled concerts is a refund of the face price of the tickets which seems to contradict advice referred to by the Lucy Lovell. Perhaps Which? Legal could clarify here what the correct answer is in Lucy’s case. Then it could amend the special page that StubHub gets to cover the situation.

BTW ” If you an’t attend the event then you can re-list the tickets on the site.” – I suggest a spell-checker or a human checks what Which? publish.


Caveat emptor so don’t use stubhub or similar. Twickets I hear are more ethical.

Colin Phillips says:
12 May 2017

I booked a weekend in London for an anniversary. Never having been to a ballet I booked seats through a “reputable” booking company. When we arrived we discovered the seats were in the top left corner behind a column. I asked if I could upgrade but was told the booking company had a block of seats, all the worst in the theatre. Again because we booked through a third party the theatre could not change our seats. I had to book new seats and tear up the original tickets, costing about £160. Never again.


I see no reason that you should not advise the name of the not-so reputable company. It would help others avoid them.

On the same theme in NYC this:
“The Attorney General’s office found that one of the ticket brokers, Prestige Entertainment, had used two different bots and thousands of credit cards and Ticketmaster accounts to buy tickets for many New York shows. The investigators allege that the company used IP proxy services to hide its use of bots from retail ticket marketplaces. In one specific case, the company allegedly used its bots to purchase over 1,000 tickets to a 2014 U2 concert at Madison Square Garden in just one minute.

Because of its pervasive use of ticket bots, Prestige will be paying the highest fine at $3.35 million. Concert Specials will pay $480,000; Presidential Tickets will pay $125,000; BMC Capital will pay $95,000; Top Star Tickets will pay $85,000; and Fanfetch will pay $55,000.

In addition to paying the fines, each company is required under the settlement to maintain proper ticket reseller licenses and abstain from using ticket bots in the future.


Hi Colin, thanks for sharing your experience – sounds very disappointing and frustrating. Who did you buy the tickets from? Was it a ticket resale website? Thanks

Joanne Bartley says:
14 July 2017

I bought tickets from Viagogo and didn’t get to see the final total cost… I thought the cost was for 2 tickets not 1 and the fee was an awful shock. I’d never have paid as much as the total amount! But I didn’t see the total to confirm the cost – the money was gone. They said I couldn’t get a refund and had to resell the tickets to get any money back. So I did… It meant I’d lose money, but I just wanted something back.

But then I sold the tickets, and came to send these tickets a few days before the event and I realised that I had etickets and the buyer wanted paper tickets. The only ‘help’ on my ticket sales page said, ‘Is there a problem with the sale?’ I clicked yes… and somehow with one click the sale was cancelled.

I thought the button was to contact support. I wrote to support to say I didn’t know the sale would be cancelled. I had no intention of cancelling this sale…!

There was no response from support. (I’d tried them loads of times to complain about the purchase & never heard back.) So, as the event was fast approaching & I heard nothing from support I was desperate to try to get some money back. I listed the tickets again. They sold, I sent the tickets. But I didn’t get paid.

Viagogo are saying I’m liable for the cancelled sale so they won’t pay me. I had no idea what happened when this sale was cancelled… No confirmation ‘are you sure you want to cancel?’ pop-up appeared. No email explaining what this meant. Nothing. The wording in the T&C is vague and confusing,. I still had the tickets, I’d have sent them to the buyer if Viagogo had just told me to do that. Or if they’d told me I was liable for the sale cost I would not have relisted them. There was no information at all.

So basically I’ve lost £466. They’re telling me I’m responsible. But I think they actually encourage and profit from mistakes like mine. Because a) they made a profit on my purchase b) they reserve the rights NOT to provide alternative tickets. So if the ticket price was going up in this case I think Viagogo would have told the buyer with the cancelled sale they couldn’t replace the tickets… I know they do this regularly and refund some buyers. I think the decision whether they do this is will be based entirely on whether they can profit, not on fair practise to buyers.

I expect they regularly give lower value tickets, or profit from the market in tickets which does go up and down (the ticket price of my event was falling.) So I feel they may encourage these kinds of cancellations on tickets that were in fact perfectly valid.

This is an awful site. It’s so badly designed the customer has no chance, whether the customer is a buyer or a seller.