Another StubHub loophole uncovered, yet some still don’t seem to see the problem.
Today many on Twitter woke up to another bombshell in the shameful saga surrounding StubHub at Tottenham Hotspur. A story was doing the rounds of a season ticket holder who had sold his seat on StubHub at face value, only to find his seat re-listed on StubHub a couple of days later at the staggering price of £200.
This isn’t some kind of trick. This is actually a ‘feature’ of the StubHub system. Here it is, in black and white:
If you can’t attend the rescheduled match, you can always list your tickets on StubHub and give someone else a chance to buy them. But we understand that’s not always possible. If you can’t make the rescheduled date, you can contact StubHub customer service to return your tickets for a credit towards a future purchase.
So the reasoning behind this is that people who might have bought a ticket for a match that has been rescheduled can dispose of their ticket if they can’t make that match on the rescheduled date. That sounds reasonable. But wait, this is not the only scenario in which you can resell tickets purchased on StubHub.
If you’re an Everton, Sunderland AFC or Tottenham Hotspur season ticket holder, you can sell tickets for home matches (for your respective club) – all you’ll need to get started is a StubHub account and your club customer number. And if you buy tickets on StubHub.co.uk but can no longer attend the match, you can resell these same tickets – even if you’re not a season ticket holder – by clicking the ‘Resell tickets’ link in the ‘Orders’ section of My Account.
Ladies and gentlemen, there we have it. The smoking gun.
Of course, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to uncover this loophole which turns StubHub into a ticket tout’s paradise. The usual practice of touting tickets is similar to any other market where shady traders try to game the market. Try to gain a sizeable number of tickets through any possible channel, wait for the supply via primary (and legal) channels to dry up, and then try to maximize profits by selling the tickets at the highest possible price.
Doing this with regular, physical tickets is strictly prohibited by both Premier League regulations and Tottenham Hotspur’s own ticketing terms and conditions. But on StubHub, it’s simple, anonymous and most of all, perfectly legal under the watchful eye of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
It’s a disgrace that a football club which ran a campaign called ‘Out The Tout‘ a couple of years ago has invited this form of touting onto its supporters. Where touting outside the ground has been condemned and actively policed for years, StubHub allows the touts to stay at home, kick their feet up and even legally continue their questionable business of ripping off supporters.
It is not like the club couldn’t have known that the business of professional ticket touts has thrived because of marketplaces like StubHub. A 2012 article by Penman & Sommerlad in The Mirror described how StubHub actually invited known ticket touts to their “first-ever UK seller event” to schmooze up to these big shots of the touting business.
The article even points out that StubHub offered lower seller fees to some of the top brasses in the touting industry. A StubHub spokeswoman even confirmed this by saying that StubHub offered discounted introductory rates to “a select number of sellers with a proven track record”. She then even went on to say: “We have a multitude of sellers from individuals selling their extras to those who sell tickets for a living.”
Making season ticket holders look bad
Now that this practice has been identified, it also shines another light on the extortionate listings on StubHub. Tottenham Hotspur were quick to point the finger at season ticket holders, their most loyal and important customers, as the cause of the inflated ticket prices being asked on StubHub. After all, they were the only sellers on there, weren’t they?
With what we know now, it is impossible to point at the season ticket holders as the only ones responsible for the price levels on StubHub. It is very likely that a large share of the tickets that are being sold in excess of sometimes £500 are actually the listings of professional ticket touts who bought a ticket off a season ticket holder and then re-listed it at a ridiculous price. Therefore, some of the stick season ticket holders have endured has been completely off the mark as they might not be the actual sellers.
After the launch of the Stop StubHub campaign last week there have been some voices saying that there’s nothing wrong with the way StubHub works. They argue it’s a simple case of supply and demand. If you take a simplistic view, this is true. But now, with these latest revelations, are they still such big advocates of ‘free market mechanisms’ when it comes to ticket resale?
It’s clear that third parties are using, or should I say abusing, the StubHub marketplace to flip tickets at vastly inflated prices. Not only do they rip off the buyers of these tickets, they are also misleading season ticket holders into thinking they are selling their reasonably priced tickets to real Spurs supporters. Instead, they are unwittingly supplying the professional ticket touts with tickets they are trying to flip at a massive profit. But who gets the blame for these inflated ticket prices? That’s right, the season ticket holders.
Some also say, there are plenty of opportunities to buy your tickets directly from the club, be it during the windows for One Hotspur member or when tickets go on general sale. This is true, but does that mean that those supporters who can make the game only on short notice should pay 2,3 maybe 6 times the price that’s listed on the ticket itself? Is one ticket worth more than the other? Imagine your schedule changed which meant you could make a home game on short notice, wouldn’t you want to be able to get a ticket for a reasonable price?
Let’s go back to StubHub. Not only are they enabling professional touts to move their illegal business off the streets onto a legal online platform, they apparently are also actively courting these touts with discounted commission rates. They know what’s going on but they simply do not care. Certain seats at White Hart Lane have been listed for £999.98 per seat for the Chelsea game, £749.98 for the West Ham game, and £499.99 for the Hull City game. Yet, neither the club nor StubHub seem to think this is cause for a more close investigation into who is trying to sell these seats for three consecutive games at these kind of astronomical prices.
Some don’t seem to see the problem, but do they understand the possible, feasible ramifications of the justification of touting tickets online? If this touting seems to work, there’s no reason for StubHub not to try and expand the partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. Why wouldn’t they open up their market place for regular tickets One Hotspur members have purchased, or people who got tickets on general sale? The bigger the volume, the higher the prices, the better for StubHub because they will rake in more money off sellers (12%) and buyers (15% on top of the ticket price).
Spurs on their part, have shown before they are willing to take the money and run. They’ve signed on to this partnership, allegedly getting a flat fee whilst they are not making any money off the sales on StubHub. They seem completely fine with the idea of their own supporters getting ripped off by professional touts, as long as they get a cushty wad of cash in return from StubHub.
The lack of consultation with supporters on the introduction of StubHub at Spurs is another regrettable side to the current situation. Did the club really feel no consultation was needed in a case that so directly impacts supporters? Or did they anticipate an ‘unfavourable opinion’ from the supporters and therefore closed this deal without letting even the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust know of these impending changes in ticketing practices?
Is it really too much to ask for a fair and safe ticket exchange that doesn’t invite these kind of practices? Is it really that hard to freeze prices at face value, let season ticket holders recoup 100% of the face value, and maybe ask a small service fee to the buyers? The old Ticket Exchange system wasn’t far off. Granted, it gave a bit of a raw deal to season ticket holders since they only received 75-80% of the face value, but with some minor tweaks everyone would be happy.
One thing is clear. StubHub is not the way. Every week, every game that goes by, the problems become more clear. The prices stink, touts have free rein and everyone is charged way too much in commission and additional fees.
Therefore, support the Stop StubHub campaign, sign the petition, tell your mates and spread the word.
Sign the petition at www.change.org/stopstubhub