Secondary ticketing company StubHub to face court in US over hidden fees
In a court case set to ignite much interest in the Australia live music sector, a San Francisco judge has ruled that secondary-ticketing giant StubHub must go to court over drip-feeding of prices.
In February, Susan Wang filed a class action over its practice of waiting until the end of a ticket transaction before beginning to load on extra fees.
Called “drip feeding”, Wang contended that the price of a seat could rise by between 20% to 30% as a result.
It questions why these fees are so high when they are being offered as digital downloads.
She argued that this was akin to bait and switch tactics, and similar to previous legal cases involving bricks and mortar stores who lured customers in with promises of marked-down prices and, once getting people inside, then claimed the goods were not available or sold them at original prices.
She charged, “Only at checkout does StubHub for the first time list a total amount that includes hidden fees — after consumers have already selected seats at a lower advertised price (that does not include fees), created a StubHub account or entered login credentials, entered credit card information, and clicked ‘go to check out.”
In March, StubHub, which is owned by eBay, tried to get the case be sent to arbitration.
It said that its user agreement made it clear that “any and all disputes or claims that have arisen or may arise between you and StubHub … shall be resolved exclusively through final and binding arbitration.”
In other words, it would be where the company would explain to Wang that her claims were wrong and smooth things over.
However Judge Harold Kahn of the San Francisco Superior Court said that the case should head to court.
He said the plaintiff “adequately alleges sufficient facts that StubHub engaged in deceptive practice of bait and switch advertising, and that such false advertising was a substantial factor in influencing Ms. Wang’s decision to purchase tickets, thereby causing her economic injury.”
Last month StubHub UK updated its website to display all-in ticket prices initially after the Advertising Standards Authority came down hard on secondary tickets after extensive lobbying by the live music industry and consumer groups.