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StubHub faces class action in Canada too over its COVID-19 refunds policy

By | Published on Tuesday 26 May 2020


A Canadian law firm last week confirmed that it had begun legal proceedings against StubHub over the ticket resale site’s decision to not offer cash refunds to people who bought tickets to shows cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

It follows a lawsuit filed in the US last month which accused StubHub of changing the terms of its much promoted FanProtect guarantee scheme in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown of live entertainment.

In that lawsuit, it was claimed that StubHub’s previous policy was to offer cash refunds to anyone who bought tickets from resellers on the secondary ticketing platform to a show that was then cancelled. As the COVID-19 shutdown kicked in, it then started offering the option of taking a voucher worth 120% of the price of the cancelled ticket.

But then, on 25 Mar, terms were changed on the resale firm’s website so that ticketholders could be forced to take the voucher instead of cash – at “StubHub’s sole discretion” – unless the ticket was bought in a country where consumer rights law obliged the ticketing firm to provide a cash refund. It was that change that led to the class action lawsuit in the US courts.

With similar policies seemingly being applied in Canada too, Toronto based law firm Koskie Minsky last week said that it was also commencing a class action against StubHub “on behalf of all persons resident in Canada who purchased one or more tickets from the defendants before 25 Mar 2020, for an event that has been cancelled, or is cancelled prior to certification of this claim, and who have not received a refund prior to certification of the class action”.

A partner at the firm, Kirk Baert, told reporters: “StubHub has reneged on its promise to refund class members’ money. This is obviously wrong and hurts everyday Canadians whose household budgets are stretched right now”.

Many ticketing companies have been struggling with the challenge of issuing refunds on so many cancelled shows as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For secondary sites like StubHub, they have the added challenge of extra links in the chain between promoter and fan, with the reseller being reliant on the refund policies and procedures of the primary ticket agent. It remains to be seen how StubHub responds to these two lawsuits.