StubHub again accused of breaking ticket touting regulations


November 29, 2021

StubHub has again been accused of breaking the rules regarding ticket touting in the UK, in particular by failing to declare when tickets are being sold on its site by professional touts.

According to The Guardian, recent analysis found that tickets for shows by artists like Adele and Coldplay were available on the StubHub platform without any details available about the sellers. The same tickets for the same seats at the same shows were also available on Viagogo, but on that site the identities of the professional touts selling the tickets were published. Imagine that, we’ve got to the point where it’s Viagogo following the rules that shows up StubHub!

Viagogo, of course, owned StubHub for a while, having announced a deal to buy its main rival in the secondary ticketing domain in late 2019. However, the two companies never properly merged because the UK competition regulator launched an investigation into that transaction. In the end, to placate the Competition & Markets Authority, Viagogo committed to sell all of StubHub’s operations outside of North America, with US investment entity Digital Fuel Capital then stepping forward to as a buyer.

It’s also the CMA that is in charge of ensuring that sites like StubHub and Viagogo comply with all relevant UK consumer rights laws, with both companies previously agreeing to various obligations set by the regulator, including publishing the identities of professional touts selling tickets on their platforms. StubHub was previously accused by the CMA of failing to fulfil those obligations in January 2020, but the regulator said the site was back in line with the rules by August that year.

In its latest report on the operations of StubHub, The Guardian cites sources in the touting world who say that they tried to upload the legally required seller information alongside tickets being resold on the platform, but that that information didn’t appear on the site. The newspaper also claims that some of that information did start to appear after it had contacted StubHub about the alleged failure to comply with its CMA set obligations.

For its part, StubHub insists that it is obeying the rules as as a matter of course, adding: “If we are made aware of non-compliance, we take corrective action to remove listings and notify sellers”. However, anti-touting campaigners have urged the CMA to investigate.

Sharon Hodgson MP – who has long led the campaign against for-profit touting in Parliament – said it appeared StubHub might be “rowing back on their legal obligations”. She then added: “Either the evidence presented to the CMA stands up or it doesn’t – if it does, then I would urge [the regulator] to do their job, to start enforcement action, and help protect British consumers”.

Meanwhile, Adam Webb from the anti-touting FanFair Alliance said that the evidence of rule-breaking at StubHub was “clear cut”, adding that: “I can only assume the CMA is either ignoring this evidence, or they don’t believe it’s important enough to intervene”.

The CMA told The Guardian that they would take “appropriate action” if there was evidence firms were failing to comply with consumer rights law.

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