/ 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

Comments

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 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:
parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/culture-media-and-sport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/inquiry1/publications/

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 :
which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/ive-bought-tickets-through-stubhub-what-are-my-rights

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.

Joanne,

Sounds like what happened to me, almost a year later. They did not show the final total until after I had put in my card number, and there was no opportunity to cancel the sale once I ha seen the total. Instead there w a dialog box asking if I had any question about the total cost, and once I ticked that box I got a confirmation number, rather that a place to ask my question. Deception all the way. Bu tell me, did you ever contact your bank for help?

Mark Pyne says:
15 July 2017

I would urge Which? to seriously investigate ALL ticketing agencies and WHY they are allowed to get away with the HUGE mark ups they do. Its a disgrace! Also, The O2 Docklands Arena needs investigating, specifically with the shocking way they sold tickets for Ed Sheeran gigs earlier this year. I want to know WHY they allowed individual applicants up to four tickets each, therefore letting fans like me down by being kept in a ‘Virtual Waiting Room’ for an hour, watching a map of the seating area slowly reducing the seats available. There is NO reason why individual applicants should be allowed any more than two tickets each. Disgraceful, especially when many people who were successful in getting 4 tickets, sold 2-3 of them onto the sharks aka ticketing agencies…Something needs to be done as it is a MAJOR bugbear of mine. Sadly, my individually fighting this issue has no effect in doing anything to change this situation…

Ruth Bissett says:
28 July 2017

Before The Stones tickets went on sale for Hyde Park in 2013, Mick and Keith appeared on Radio 4 announcing the news. Mick clearly stated over the air, the tickets are on sale from Friday morning and are priced at £85 each, nobody should be paying a penny over. So before, London went crazy on prices, I managed to book a hotel easily within minutes. On the Friday morning, I was all set before 0800 hrs, to attempt the ticket purchase (1 for me, and 1 for my son), with cards ready. At 0800:02 hrs, the site was backed up with too many hits. I attempted several times in the next 2-3 minutes, to make the purchase, at 0803hrs, Ticketmaster reported, ‘sold out’. By 0810hrs, I had discovered availability on GetMeIn. I knowingly purchase 2 tickets, each at over £160, almost double the face value.
I suppose while we go ahead and buy tickets, these ‘merchants’ will continue to reap their margins and profits. This must be technology working within TicketMaster for their gain, so why won’t the showbiz elite conduct their own investigations, if they really want to give back to the fans. Mick must have known this would happen.
I tried to purchase tickets from The Stones app, (which I downloaded especially for this purpose) earlier in the summer for the Barcelona gig. All day, I was trying and failed, so had to go via the TicketMaster.ES site, where I am convinced the tickets have all been seriously inflated on the 1st general sale day.

Wheels within wheels and some computing algorithms going on I suspect.

In May 2017 bought a single ticket for the Rolling Stones appearing in Paris in October. Having failed on the Stones site, I paid 361 euros for the ticket from Viagogo and was denied entry at the Arena. The Arena staff told me that they wouldn’t accept tickets bought from viagogo. My only option was to buy another one from the official box office on site. As you can imagine I was very distressed and eventually did so. Luckily I got one of the last remaining seats for 331 euros. Actually in a much better position as my original “ticket” which only had a face value of 125 euros! I did not realise that when I bought the original ticket. I did get my money refunded about 10’days later from Viagogo only after about 25 phone calls – but it was a very stressful and upsetting experience and I would advise anyone never to buy from a secondary ticketing site. I did not realise that’s what it was until much later. They should be outlawed or at least highly regulated.

MARION MACLEOD says:
12 February 2018

I purchased 2 tickets in December ’17, on Viagogo for ‘Wicked’ at Edinburgh Playhouse for a show in
May ’18.
The tickets arrived today for row DD seats 4 and 5 right on the edge of the back stalls. The tickets cost £42:50 each, or £85 for both. I paid £215:74. I’ve just checked the theatre web site and there are currently seats available in every area. They have made a profit of £130. I have contacted them requesting better seats for my money!
Foolishly, I didn’t realise I wasn’t booking with the theatre directly, when I made the booking. Needless to say I will be more careful and will not book with any secondary agent ever again.

gary graham says:
16 May 2018

Working away from home my wife phoned with bad news about her health so to cheer her up I told her to buy 2 tickets for warhorse at mayflower theatre Southampton ,on that day she thought she was on official website but turned out to be viogogo which sent her email after payment confirmation 2 tickets priced at £53 each plus costs total £149.On returning home I downloaded tickets to find they were the lowest price tickets you can buy at £18 each so ripping us of for £35 a ticket consumer law in this country is a joke as it does not protect the consumer from online ticket sites ..

Nadine says:
4 June 2018

Today I purchased 2 tickets for my birthday to see David Seders from Viagogo at £114 pounds each. Thought it was expensive but as its my birthday I went ahead. I was dumb struck when confirmation came through of my purchase with a total bill of £319.48! Then I found the Viagogo reviews. I feel sick. The extra £101.48 I have questioned with the company but am guessing I won’t get a refund. I also hear that the seats mysteriously change in the run up to the event leaving you with worse seats than expected. I’m also concerned that some concerts will not accept tickets sold through Viagogo. Can it get any worse?

Patrick Taylor says:
4 June 2018

I have for several years asked that Which? copy the highly effective Australian consumer body Choice which annually hands out fake awards to the worst firms in Australia. These awards [ Shonky] get enormous publicity and that is what is needed to make the public highly aware of the nature of the beast, And of course whilst we await our lame legislators to take action.

Viagogo would be a surefire winner here in the UK. It regularly heads complaints in many countries. The French have just fined it 70,000 euros and is starting a whole raft of investigations into its breaches of existing laws for selling tickets to the French Open currently on in Paris.

Reza Jafari says:
24 January 2019

Last night me and my partner searched over the net to purchase 2 tickets. After finding the event on Viagogo website and inserting my Visa card detail, we were checking our diaries to see if the event does not have any conflicts with our activities. The website had a 10 minutes countdown timer. Bizarrely, the purchase completion message popped up without clicking on the pay button.

I tried to call my bank to express my concern about this suspicious activity. They told me there is not anything they could do at this stage because the money has already been debited and advised me to contact Viagogo and explained the issue which I had done before.

Today, I called them on the phone and after a disappointing conversation, they rudely said that while a purchased is done is done and we are sure that our website is completely fine and it is your problem.

Finally, I called Citizen Advice Consumer helpline and they referred me to contact the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).
I am writing to strongly insist that it is fraud from my point of view and ask you kindly help me in this matter guys. It is 2019 and these sort of activities are not acceptable and should be condemned.