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StubHub warned it is breaching UK consumer law (again)

By | Published on Thursday 30 January 2020


The UK’s Competition And Markets Authority has warned secondary ticketing company StubHub that it faces court action if it doesn’t address various issues with its website.

The regulator has also published a list of those issues. It says that StubHub is: failing to adequately warn people that tickets may not get them into an event; using misleading messaging about ticket availability; targeting UK consumers with tickets for events listed on overseas versions of its website, which may not comply with UK law; failing to ensure people know exactly where they will sit in a venue; and failing to take sufficient steps to ensure that the full addresses of business sellers are always displayed.

Back in 2018, the CMA demanded that all UK secondary ticketing sites make various changes in order to fall in line with UK consumer rights law. Ticketmaster responded by shutting down its two secondary sites – GetMeIn and Seatwave – while the ever rogue Viagogo initially did nothing, resulting in legal action. StubHub, however, keen to present itself as the friendly face of secondary ticketing, voluntarily made the changes asked of it.

However, it seems that things have been slipping at StubHub HQ since then, with the CMA saying that its most recent checks on whether the StubHub site is complying with the law threw up all of the issues outlined above. StubHub has apparently already promised to address everything on that long list, but the CMA has also warned that if it doesn’t – or doesn’t address them to its liking – it will begin court action.

In a statement, CMA chief exec Andrea Coscelli says: “StubHub had previously committed to make important changes to the information on its site, so anyone buying a ticket would know what they were getting before parting with their money. It’s therefore unacceptable that we have now found these concerns”.

“We have demanded swift action to resolve these problems and are pleased that StubHub has said it will make changes in response”, he continues. “We will closely monitor the firm’s efforts and, if it does not quickly implement changes that satisfy us, we will take further action – potentially through the courts”.

Coscelli added that Viagogo’s compliance was also reviewed at the same time as StubHub and no issues were found. Although, of course, having only recently fallen in line with the CMA’s demands, Viagogo has had less time to go back to its old ways.

All of this is also interesting in the context of Viagogo’s current bid to buy StubHub for $4 billion from current owner eBay. One concern of that merger is that champion rule breaker Viagogo would be in control of the ticket resale platform that has generally complied with the rules. Though the latest CMA announcement shows StubHub is actually more than capable of breaking those rules without Viagogo’s help.

The CMA is also currently investigating that merger and may as yet block it.

Commenting on the news that StubHub is being newly reprimanded by the regulator, Adam Webb, Campaign Manager for anti-touting organisation the FanFair Alliance, says in a statement: “This is a welcome announcement from the CMA, which again highlights continuing dysfunctions in the secondary ticketing market. StubHub have had years to comply with UK consumer law, they were forced to sign legal undertakings in April 2018, and yet they still fall short of expected standards”.

He adds: “If StubHub and other secondary ticketing platforms continue to mislead UK audiences, we would urge the CMA to take decisive action through the courts. Today’s developments should also provide yet more impetus for regulators to thoroughly investigate the proposed merger between Viagogo and StubHub”.

The deadline for submissions to the CMA’s investigation into Viagogo’s StubHub deal passed earlier this month, with an announcement on what it plans to do next still to come.