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StubHub says critics ignore its positive efforts

By | Published on Friday 22 June 2018


StubHub has responded to recent comments made by the anti-touting FanFair Alliance. The eBay-own secondary ticketing platform says that critics of the ticket resale market often ignore the positive work it does for music fans.

Earlier this week FanFair called on Google to stop taking advertising money from StubHub’s more controversial rival Viagogo, on the basis it has failed to comply with UK consumer rights law and has been sanctioned by both the Competition & Markets Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority.

However, FanFair also criticised other secondary ticketing platforms, including StubHub, for using Google ads in a way that – campaigners say – confuse consumers, and which can drive music fans to touted tickets at marked up prices even when face value tickets are still available from primary ticket agents.

FanFair noted that Live Nation’s resale site Get Me In! sometimes does this even when the official primary seller is Live Nation’s Ticketmaster. And eBay’s StubHub does the same for shows at venues with which it has an official partnership, like the AEG-run O2 Arena and Wembley Arena.

Although not responding directly to those criticisms, StubHub did issue a statement this week more generally defending its position in the ticketing ecosystem. It insisted that most of the sellers on its platform are individuals rather than professional touts, and added that tickets sell on its website below face value as well as above.

Said the eBay firm: “Approximately 40% of ticket transactions on StubHub’s UK site sell below face value, allowing fans who can’t make it to an event to pass them on to someone who can. Those with a vested interest in controlling ticketing and fan access omit this fact as they seek to diminish the work that StubHub does on behalf of fans around the world to provide access to the events and experiences they love”.

It went on: “In fact, 99% of sellers on StubHub are fans and our site serves as a marketplace for them to transfer their tickets and recoup losses since primary ticket sellers do not offer refunds”.

Noting recent efforts by the political community to tackle customer confusion, it said: “We are supportive of more transparency and are actively engaged with members of Parliament to advocate for fans and their freedom of choice when it comes to tickets”.

However, a spokesperson for FanFair has questioned StubHub’s commitment to boosting transparency for music fans, while also critiquing the firm’s stats.

The campaigning group told CMU: “It is a positive development that resale platforms such as StubHub are now actively engaged with regulators and politicians. However, it did take the CMA to agree undertakings under the Enterprise Act before they complied with UK consumer law. And, prior to that, to reportedly raid StubHub’s offices in order to obtain information about relations with high-profile ticket touts. So to describe themselves as ‘supportive of more transparency’ might possibly be open to question”.

“StubHub’s use of statistics is also intriguing”, they went on. “By their own estimation, nearly two-thirds of their UK transactions are at over face value. If that wasn’t excessive enough, at high-demand events we regularly see 100% tickets listed at prices significantly over face value. And with a high proportion listed by professional sellers, including touts based in Singapore, the USA and Quebec”.

Expanding on that latter point, FanFair concluded: “So when StubHub claim 99% of their sellers are fans, what they likely mean is that the 1% of sellers who are not fans account for a bulk of their listings and are key to their business model. Which is why they pay them in advance, why they run incentive schemes for top sellers, and why they reportedly operate a StubHub Sellers Council”.

StubHub is yet to respond to FanFair’s response to its response. But we’ve asked.